What was that again, Mr. Chertoff?
This blog has stated repeatedly
that al Qaeda's talk is just talk. That the cababilities
of al Qaeda must be examined. If the capabilities are minimal, then big talk about reestablishing the Caliphate is just a lot of hot air (but that hasn't stopped Bush from saying it's something to be afraid of).
Well, Michael Chertoff has an op-ed
in the Washington Post where he addresses all the components (intent, capability and consequences) in order to determine if this country is "at war" or not. Setting aside the "are we at war?" debate, let's examine what Chertoff has to say about al Qaeda's and related groups' capabilities: (emp orig)
Capability: The fanatics' intent, while grandiose, is not entirely fanciful. Islamist extremists such as those in al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated groups from North Africa to Iraq and South Asia are fighting for and sometimes achieving control of territory in which they can train; assemble advanced, inhumane weaponry; impose their own vision of repressive law; and dominate local life. To be sure, as Brzezinski observes, the geographic reach of this network does not put them in the same group as the Nazis or Stalinists when they achieved first-class military power. But without relentless vigilance and effort from the civilized world, Islamist extremists could gain control of a state or establish a network of radical "statelets" in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Did you get that? Here are the capabilities, according to Chartoff:
- fight for territory
- assemble advanced weaponry
- impose repressive law
- dominate local life
Where is the mention of capabilities as we normally think? Capabilities like:
- Anti-submarine weapons
- Air to ground missles
- Electronic surveillance
All Chertoff can really say along those lines is that they are assembling "advanced weaponry", by which he apparently means car and truck bombs. That's not advanced. Chertoff, like James Q. Wilson in the Los Angeles Times this week, raise a point and then pretends to answer it
. But he doesn't answer it. The purpose of Chertoff's essay is to make you think that he's examined the capabilities issue and answered it affirmatively and in doing so, justified administration policy. It's getting tiresome.
I suspect that the "advanced" rating could be given to the recent use of shaped-charge IEDs that can penetrate vehicle undercarriage armor.
At any rate, you've certainly picked a small nit to pick.