More then one social observer has noted that the public's attention span extends to about two weeks on any particular outrage by public officials. While others have noted that if it wasn't on last night's evening news it didn't happen. Both cynical truths that are a little discouraging especially when you're trying to make the case that some current event should be viewed in its historical context. Terrorism isn't something that started on September 11, 2001, nor unfortunately will all acts of terrorism stop in our lifetimes. The Poor Man's Air Force, Commentary: A History of the Car Bomb
"You have shown no pity to us! We will do likewise. We will dynamite you!
— Anarchist warning (1919)
On a warm September day in 1920, a few months after the arrest of his comrades Sacco and Vanzetti, a vengeful Italian anarchist named Mario Buda parked his horse-drawn wagon near the corner of Wall and Broad Streets, directly across from J. P. Morgan Company. He nonchalantly climbed down and disappeared, unnoticed, into the lunchtime crowd. A few blocks away, a startled postal worker found strange leaflets warning: "Free the Political Prisoners or it will be Sure Death for All of You!" They were signed: "American Anarchist Fighters." The bells of nearby Trinity Church began to toll at noon. When they stopped, the wagon — packed with dynamite and iron slugs — exploded in a fireball of shrapnel.
"The horse and wagon were blown to bits," writes Paul Avrich, the celebrated historian of American anarchism who uncovered the true story. "Glass showered down from office windows, and awnings twelve stories above the street burst into flames. People fled in terror as a great cloud of dust enveloped the area. In Morgan's offices, Thomas Joyce of the securities department fell dead on his desk amid a rubble of plaster and walls. Outside scores of bodies littered the streets."
Buda was undoubtedly disappointed when he learned that J.P. Morgan himself was not among the 40 dead and more than 200 wounded — the great robber baron was away in Scotland at his hunting lodge. Nonetheless, a poor immigrant with some stolen dynamite, a pile of scrap metal, and an old horse had managed to bring unprecedented terror to the inner sanctum of American capitalism.
His Wall Street bomb was the culmination of a half-century of anarchist fantasies about avenging angels made of dynamite; but it was also an invention, like Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, far ahead of the imagination of its time. Only after the barbarism of strategic bombing had become commonplace, and when air forces routinely pursued insurgents into the labyrinths of poor cities, would the truly radical potential of Buda's "infernal machine" be fully realized.
Buda's wagon was, in essence, the prototype car bomb: the first use of an inconspicuous vehicle, anonymous in almost any urban setting, to transport large quantities of high explosive into precise range of a high-value target. It was not replicated, as far as I have been able to determine, until January 12, 1947 when the Stern Gang drove a truckload of explosives into a British police station in Haifa, Palestine, killing 4 and injuring 140. The Stern Gang (a pro-fascist splinter group led by Avraham Stern that broke away from the right-wing Zionist paramilitary Irgun) would soon use truck and car bombs to kill Palestinians as well: a creative atrocity immediately reciprocated by British deserters fighting on the side of Palestinian nationalists.
Vehicle bombs thereafter were used sporadically — producing notable massacres in Saigon (1952), Algiers (1962), and Palermo (1963) — but the gates of hell were only truly opened in 1972, when the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) accidentally, so the legend goes, improvised the first ammonium nitrate-fuel oil (ANFO) car bomb. These new-generation bombs, requiring only ordinary industrial ingredients and synthetic fertilizer, were cheap to fabricate and astonishingly powerful: they elevated urban terrorism from the artisanal to the industrial level, and made possible sustained blitzes against entire city centers as well as the complete destruction of ferro-concrete skyscrapers and residential blocks
Someone will occasionally use the term, and like flat earthers there are still no doubt some anarchists in the world, but at one time anachists were the radical islamists of their day.Their ideology was and it's practitioners were supposedly behind every door, their generation's pox on the future of civilization. Just as we seemed doomed to the occasional act of terror, we're also doomed to suffer the gross paranoia that follows. Today we're not fighting "mushroom clouds" we're still fighting car bombs and IEDs,
Second, they are extraordinarily cheap: 40 or 50 people can be massacred with a stolen car and maybe $400 of fertilizer and bootlegged electronics. Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, bragged that his most expensive outlay was in long-distance phone calls. The explosive itself (one half ton of urea) cost $3,615 plus the $59 per day rental for a ten-foot-long Ryder van. In contrast, the cruise missiles that have become the classic American riposte to overseas terrorist attacks cost $1.1 million each.
Third, car bombings are operationally simple to organize. Although some still refuse to believe that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols didn't have secret assistance from a government or dark entity, two men in the proverbial phone booth — a security-guard and a farmer — successfully planned and executed the horrendous Oklahoma City bombing with instructional books and information acquired from the gun-show circuit.
This does not mean that terrorism is something to yawn about, but it does mean that the conservative's insistence that Iraq or even the approach that Bush took to Afghanistan is the best way to fight terrorism is a glaring admission that they don't have a clue. They know they want to abuse, torture, and kill people and if that seems to be failing to return the desired results it is because we need to abuse and torture more fervently and kill even more. Or we could think of terrorism as a malignant growth, cut it out and address the causes that gave rise to it in the first place. Conservatives don't seem to care if we have to kill the patient , his family, or the family next door in order to stop terrorism. As morally deranged as that is, one could say that at the end of the day as bloody and morally relative as the conservative tact is, it may work, but the last five years suggests that it is a catastrophic experiment that has failed strategically and militarily. Roosevelt won a world war in less time and just as importantly did not give birth to the next generation of ultra-nationalists. Conservatives have failed to make a dent in jihadist terrorism and created a new generation of jihaist sympathizers in Iraq and Afghanistan, not because these nations haven't felt the full force of American military power, but despite it. Conservatism has done to militant Islam what we're all warned not to do with chemical fires, throwing on an excelerant. As the fire has grown they've become more afraid and more shrill. As the years go by and conservatives continue to direct our foreign policy expect more of the same. There will be no great epiphany where conservatives realize they got it all wrong since part of being a conservative is never having the humility to admit you're wrong. Horror of horrors to add insult to injury they would then be admitting that those with a more moderate studied approach to terrorism and the middle-east were right. Some of the neocon semi-intellectuals will try to rescue the movement by pleading "unintended consequences", but after five years and no end in sight, those whose heads are not buried in the ideological sand can't see anything but the reality of a determined maliciousness. The conservative agenda of failure in battling terrorism has been as well established as their record of corruption, pour on the speed more and more shrillness, paranoia and failure ahead.
Except for some jobs that were shed in the Post Office it looks like Bush is just a big gov'ment conservative. I don't mind if we need more federal employees to provide essential services and make gov'ment effective, but with this administration one just suspects that given their record the open positions were filled with unqualified conservatives cronies, Federal Employment Under George W. Bush
And the small net decline in employment since George W. Bush took office is more than 100% explained by the reduction in employment by the Post Office. Federal employment not including the Post Office has increased under George W. Bush.
Listen to Blue sing. She's on to
him. She says: got him.
Hail, that dog is jus' runnin' in
(returning from phone)
Captain says to wait 'til the Patrol
(listening to Blue)
She's on to him. You shoulda waited
fer me to git her out — loose like
she is, he kin run her crazy.
It ain't my fault you don't know how
to handle your dogs.
How my suppose to handle a dog someone
jus' let loose?
I'm beat. This ain't mah job, nohow.
from the screenplay "COOL HAND LUKE" by Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson