Friday, January 08, 2010

Cheap Talk

Snarking at a Bob Herbert column which -- quite accurately -- frets that Americans are getting distracting from the critical issues facing our country by obsessive focus on a few issues (such as the would-be Detroit airline bomber), Jeffrey Goldberg titles his post "Easy for You To Say" and writes "Try telling this to the people on that plane."

What does that even mean? Anytime someone faces a serious threat to their life, that's going to be a big deal to them. I don't mean to be callous, but that fact does not mean it automatically is a big deal for us as a society.

The failed attack on the airliner obviously is not a minor issue. But neither is it worthy of the all-consuming focus that it risks morphing into.


PG said...

Yeah, that's like Goldberg responding to a column complaining about media over-coverage on perils to pretty white girls by saying, "Try telling this to Natalee Holloway's parents." Why yes, the risks of getting drunk in Aruba would then be paramount in my mind, but for the 99.999999% of the population for whom that is NOT a concern...

joe said...

It's almost like Jeffrey Goldberg is being intellectually dishonest ;)

N. Friedman said...


With due respect, the most important issue for a country is its survival. The group of lunatics - and there are a whole lot of them - at war with the US will, lest they are eventually defeated, further and further undermine our country to the point where it is difficult to govern. So, dealing with the problem needs to be front and center.

In an interesting book review, which I would urge you to read, I note the following, which pretty much explains the tactics of people like the Christmas underwear bomber:

Here we can see again the most serious flaw in the clash-of-civilizations model. If jihad were being used simply as a means of conducting Clausewitzian warfare, it would indeed be a relic of the past about which none of us in the West would need to worry overmuch. If Muslim civilization only decided to clash with ours, we could clash back, and with overwhelming military force. If we were confronting the armies of Omar or of Tamerlane, there is little doubt which side would secure the victory. But the objective of jihad is not Clausewitzian politics continued by other means. Its objective is the destruction and dissolution of politics as we have come to understand it in the West. The jihadists are not interested in winning in our sense of the word. They can succeed simply by making the present world order unworkable, by creating conditions in which politics-as-usual is no longer an option, forcing upon the West the option either of giving in to their demands or descending into anarchy and chaos.