Ted Koppel mirrors Fareed Zakaria in making the argument that America’s response to 9/11 has been an overreaction, noting that the “insidious thing about terrorism is that there is no such thing as absolute security.” He and he cites that mosque-near-Ground Zero debate and the pyrotechnic preacher.
He writes in the Washington Post, “We have raced to Afghanistan and Iraq, and more recently to Yemen and Somalia; we have created a swollen national security apparatus; and we are so absorbed in our own fury and so oblivious to our enemy’s intentions that we inflate the building of an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan into a national debate and watch, helpless, while a minister in Florida outrages even our friends in the Islamic world by threatening to burn copies of the Koran.
“If bin Laden did not foresee all this, then he quickly came to understand it. In a 2004 video message, he boasted about leading America on the path to self-destruction. “All we have to do is send two mujaheddin . . . to raise a small piece of cloth on which is written ‘al-Qaeda’ in order to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses.”
The preacher, with his 50 followers, never would have made the news in another era. He’d have been dismissed along with all of the other attention-seekers who tantalize newsrooms every day.