US in denial on terror

Since the terrible bomb attack on the Boston Marathon, the US has been struggling with huge questions. The focus has not been on those murdered or injured in the attack, but on the attackers themselves. Who were these young immigrants? Why would a couple of Chechens with Jihadi songs on their playlists want to do such a thing to the US? What could possibly be their motivation?

Some people have actually acknowledged that there are terrorists out there who want to kill innocent Americans and even drawn a possible link between this and radical Islam. But still, there is a pressing need to understand exactly how did these people become radical Islamists?

The good news is that C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has some answers: “Everything that I see right now seems like they were radicalised through the Internet,” he said. This is a huge breakthrough. Now the government knows how to fight this war. It’s sounds like a terrible disease one can catch – “radicalisation” – and because we are all connected to the Internet, who knows who might catch it next. Such a disease could easily turn into an epidemic! Clearly they are focussed on what the real problem is – not radical Islam, but rather this process of “radicalisation” – one of the new words that has entered the vernacular of the war on terror. If only they could stop radicalisation, then we would all live together as one.

In further evidence of systemic denial, Max Abrahms suggested that the two perpetrators, “wherever they may have learned to make bombs or hate Americans, were no geniuses“. Unlike the contemporary definition of terrorists as highly trained, and rational and strategic in their approach, these guys were just a couple of dimwits. So relax America – this isn’t a repeat of the 9/11 attacks – this was just a couple of idiots who, on a whim we can’t understand, murdered and injured innocent people. And because they are not smart like real terrorists, we were able to catch them very quickly. We still don’t know where they learned to hate Americans, but that’s not so important because we got ’em. Mission Accomplished.

After the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden gloated and took responsibility in the traditional way terrorists do after an attack, and there was little scope for denial. When your enemy gets up and says how much he hates you, it’s hard to deny he is indeed the enemy. The process of grief quickly moved to anger as America’s military power was unleashed like a bull in a china shop – against an enemy they did not understand and did not know how to fight. Years later the region is still a mess, and while Obama’s drones are a little more accurate than previous methods, one can hardly say that the US has been effective in this long war.

The great Sun Tzu said:
… if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.

Not only does American remain in denial about the nature of the enemy and what they stand for, they have reached the point where the vernacular needed to articulate the enemy is all but banned from common usage. You have to wonder if they even know themselves any more.

About the Author
David is a public speaker and author, an experienced technology entrepreneur, strategic thinker and advisor, family office principal, philanthropist and not-for-profit innovator. Based in Melbourne Australia, David consults on high net worth family and business issues helping people establish succession plans, overcome family conflict, and find better work/life balance. He is an adjunct industry fellow at Swinburne University, with a focus on entrepreneurship. David incorporates his diverse background into his thinking and speaking, which cuts across succession planning, wealth transition, legacy, Jewish identity and continuity. He is passionate about leadership, good governance, and sports. David is married with five children.