The Austin bomber offered a frightening reminder how vulnerable the U.S. is to asymmetrical attacks – something that should be kept in mind as U.S. leaders exacerbate tensions with Russia and other targeted regimes, writes David Hamilton.
By David Hamilton
Austin’s bomber revealed many things. Despite being inexperienced and not terribly bright, he terrorized a major city, stretched police resources to their limit, significantly disrupted commerce and grabbed worldwide headlines. He doubtless also caused the CEOs at UPS and Fedex to have nightmares.
Try to imagine what a very smart person with some professional training in explosives, ideological motivation and a strategic plan might be able to do, especially with a small and skilled support group.
The crucial factor is that significant targets are so limitless and far-flung that they simply cannot be secured. Forget blowing up random people while on surveillance cameras, what about those electric power lines crossing the desert to the far horizon? The power grid is flagrantly exposed. What about flyovers? Or the petro-chemical plant sitting beside the ship channel? Any bridge? Or Edward Abbey’s idea of a boat bomb floated against Glen Canyon Dam? Our ubiquitous, complex and crumbling infrastructure and our open society provide unguarded targets ad infinitum.
The immutable vulnerability cannot be eliminated by military means. We cannot patrol below every power line and bridge. No border wall will matter, just another target. Besides, our principal enemies are internal, not an alien invasion. The Austin bomber was not a Russian. Nor was Timothy McVeigh or the perpetrators at Parkland HS or at the Pulse nightclub or at the Mandalay hotel Las Vegas or at Sandy Hook Elementary, all terrorist attacks by white male Americans with no criminal record who probably considered themselves Christians.
There is no military means to fully guarantee our security. It is statistically irrefutable that having guns increases one’s likelihood of getting…