|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Finally — and this is the sort of thing you're not allowed to say if you are, as Glenn Greenwald notes, a Serious Journalist — but every time I see Abdulmutallab's face I'm struck by how young and vulnerable he looks. His troubled Web writings left the same impression. I'm not sure what that means. He is, increasingly, the face of young militants — the product of a good home and education, even wealth, not of slums and deprivation (although the poverty and chaos of Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia certainly contribute to al-Qaida's strength and appeal there). Abdulmutallab reminds me more of a troubled American school shooter than, say, Mohammed Atta. Al-Qaida's appeal to such lost souls may well be high, but it's a misery that crosses boundaries of religion and race.
Second, the former Vice President makes the clearly untrue claim that the President – who is this nation’s Commander-in-Chief – needs to realize we are at War. I don’t think anyone realizes this very hard reality more than President Obama. In his inaugural, the President said “our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.” In a recent speech, Assistant to the President for Terrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan said “Instead, as the president has made clear, we are at war with al-Qaida, which attacked us on 9/11 and killed 3,000 people. We are at war with its violent extremist allies who seek to carry on al-Qaida’s murderous agenda. These are the terrorists we will destroy; these are the extremists we will defeat.” At West Point, the President told the nation why it was “in our vital national interest” to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to fight the war in Afghanistan, adding that as Commander in Chief, “I see firsthand the terrible wages of war.” And at Oslo, in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, the President said, “We are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land.”
There are numerous other such public statements that explicitly state we are at war. The difference is this: President Obama doesn’t need to beat his chest to prove it, and – unlike the last Administration – we are not at war with a tactic (“terrorism”), we at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies.