Janet and the Fonz

For those old enough to remember; Fonzi on Happy Days, tough guy good heart, had a horrible time choking out the words “I’m sorry” when an apology was in order, just couldn’t get the words out, short of spasm like contortions. 

Janet Napolitano has the same verbal tick as Fonzi did when it comes to using the word “terrorism”.   She just can’t deliver the line with feeling, clearly uncomfortable with messy implications including evidence contrary to the current world view.

Janet, come on, early reports: middle aged white guy, lone wolf, amateurish; there you have it, right out of the gate. No investigation required.  Janet, you guys got it wrong again.  It’s Christmas in May!  Opps, looks like the Taliban claim of credit was not so far fetched after all.  In the moment it meant nothing, no connection just propaganda.  That whole idea of  knowing when to speed up and when to slow down seems a foreign concept. 

Janet, what’s it going to take to get you on board with the realties of terrorism, a bomb in YOUR underwear?

Janet and I agree, insofar as I don’t care for War on Terror as a label either.  You don’t go to war against a tactic.  You go to war, Cold or Hot,  over conflicting self interests, mutually exclusive belief systems, imminent danger, for the sake of self defense, you protect your economy; sometimes you even preempt bad intent and dangerous games.

Janet, I know you’re good with that “overseas contingency operation” thing.  Honestly, Jan, can I call you Jan?  It’s weak.  Cave dwellers everywhere had themselves a hoot over that one.  “Ahmed, quick, get me the tin can with the wire so I can talk to Mohammed in the oversees contingency operation department, Ha, Ha, Ha.”  “oh and order a new sign for the cave,  Ha, Ha, Ha.”

War of Ideas does it for me, assuming we’re talking about the same set of ideas.  Oh, Janet, sorry, we may have a little problem there, you and I!  OK we’re moving on!

War against religious based radicalism is OK with me!  War on violent, political, terror supporting ideologies from the 7th century, or the 11th for that matter!  That’s a good one!  How about; War in support of western ideals regarding the values of liberal democracies and free peoples?

How about war on religious totalitarianism!  How about a war of ideas in opposition to any and all forms of totalitarianism?

We’ll be hit again! I don’t expect Janet or anyone else to guarantee we won’t.  That horse is, I fear, long out of the barn.  At the same time I have confidence in the  quality of the people who are dedicated to preventing it.  The work they did in New York in less than 60 hours was impressive, stumbles along the way not withstanding. 

The odds of escape from terrorism are long to the point of meaningless.  However…….Recognition of the history and nature of the threat and the ideologies that these threats  grow out of would be a welcome change.  Calling it what it is would be refreshing.  The administration does not however, so far, get it! 

The Christmas bomber, this week in N.Y., the Fort Hood Report, weak on Iran,  KSM in New York, overseas contingency operation, expulsion of the term Jihadist from the DC lexicon.  The misbegotten Cairo speech: weak on Iran, tough on Israel, weak on Hamas and Hiz’bAllah. The Syrian effort to build a nuclear facility results in no significant price to pay!  Weak on Iran!  Creating an issue for the Palestinians by making a stink over an apartment building in an area never contemplated to be Palestinian?  Weak on Iran! Refusal to secure the border: elimination of funding for anti-radiological detection equipment for New York.  Standard Federal funds distribution calculation with no recognition of varying threat levels!  No place in the Stimulus Bill for NYC security? Omaha and New York City are different by many more metrics than just their population base as a distribution percentage. And, in case you missed it, weak on terror king pin Iran.  Weak on Iraqi and Afghani combatant Iran.         

Janet, can you help me out with any of this?  I’m begging you; prove that I’m wrong and that you’re really on top of this stuff.  I know the Cops in NYC are on it, FBI is a good outfit at its best.  Not overly worried about them.  No real insight  but I’d bet the counter terrorism and fusion center folks are pretty good too. 

I’m worried about the organizational culture when we can’t call something what it is. I worry that the New York Cop who absolutely knows the deal, loses confidence in meaningless PC platitudes and wishful thinking.  I worry when extravagant euphemisms are the order of the day.  I worry about the message to the high level bureaucratic class where implementation is critical.  Is it information and evidence or political correctness?  That, with some good reason, is what worries me.  Probably worries the Fonz, too.