May 28, 2016

No, Boston Will Not Change Anything


The film “Casablanca” was an alarm bell for America back in 1941. I thought about an exchange from that script in regard to Boston:

Major Strasser: Are you one of those people who cannot imagine the Germans in your beloved Paris?

Rick: It’s not particularly my beloved Paris.

Heinz: Can you imagine us in London?

Rick: Ask me when you get there.

Major Strasser: How about New York?

Rick: Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.

But wait! They got to New York back in 2001. And have been back there about 18 times since then. They got to Washington DC that same year.

And now they are in Boston.

That’s what I thought about when I heard President Obama saying that the terrorists picked the wrong city to attack.

No, they didn’t.

Two kids paralyzed an American city with great ease just by willing to sacrifice their lives if necessary, which is after all the whole theory of the suicide terrorism, we believe in death you believe in life school.

Whether or not they had some brief training in bomb making and didn’t just take the Internet course isn’t that important. And remember that the Chechen nationalist movements have no interest in attacking the United States. This was al-Qaida, as we can see from the selection of YouTube videos by one of the bombers.

So, if we are going to be honest about it, the issue here is not the heroes who emerged or the quality of the police work done. It is that America is tremendously vulnerable.

But is that fair to say given the few big terror plots that have succeeded since September 11, 2001?

Well, yes, because there are a lot of small ones that have succeeded; a lot of plots that were deliberately not recognized as such so that the American people remained asleep. The United States is losing.

On September 11, 2001, only Iran and Afghanistan were ruled by revolutionary Islamist governments.

Today, Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Iran, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, and soon Syria make for a lot longer list.

This, then, is the one-two punch of Islamism: Terrorist movements plus political movements. Oh, and there’s another punch, too, Western denial.

Years ago there was a joke in South Africa, before the end of the apartheid regime. The government builds a giant computer and asks it, “In the year 2000 will South Africa be ruled by whites or blacks?”

The computer says, “Whites.”

But then the officials think of the friction between the Boers (Dutch-speakers) and the English speakers so they ask: “What language will they be speaking?”

And the answer comes back “Russian.”

This is sort of what happened with the hopes of the left” this week:

“What race will be the Boston terrorists be?”


“What a relief!”

“Yes, Caucasian Muslims.”

When I was watching the September 11 attacks on television, an announcer said, “From now on, everything will be different.” And I said out loud to the television set: “No, it won’t.”

For many years before 2001 I carried with me a secret. When reporters would ask me, “Why haven’t terrorists targeted the United States directly?” I didn’t answer.

That’s because the answer was: “Because they haven’t yet realized how easy it would be to do that.”

I didn’t want to be the one who tipped them off. Back then, in the 1980s, and 1990s, the Islamist terrorists knew they didn’t know America very well. Also, I suspect, they couldn’t believe how open the United States was, that there weren’t policemen who would follow them around because they were Muslim and Middle Eastern.

Here’s the irony: Only when the terrorist leaders realized that Islamophobia was not a big factor in the United States could they resolve to attack the United States with a belief that they would succeed.

Once again I hear that “everything will change” because of Boston. Again, a dozen years later, I don’t believe that either. It is absolutely clear what needs to be understood and what needs to be done. But that message will not be accepted by those with socio-political power.

You see, regarding the current dominant people and ideas ruling America, controlling its universities and mass media, there’s a Navaho proverb that applies: You can’t wake up someone who’s only pretending to be sleeping.

Back in 1941, the Pearl Harbor attack forced America to wake up. But America had its Pearl Harbor a dozen years ago and we’re still waiting.



About Barry Rubin

Prof. Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist for PajamasMedia at His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan)