Are You Safer Now ...?

Posted: Jul 25, 2006 12:01 AM

  • A favorite question of pollsters is something like this: Do you think the world is a safer place since the Bush Administration declared a war on terror following 9/11?

  • It is my impression that the Left and their allies in the popular press believe that most Americans think we are less safe nearly five years after the attacks.

  • However, a clear majority in polls such as the ABC/Washington Post poll from about a month ago believe we are safer by a 59% - 33% measure.

  • An LA Times poll published on June 30 showed people approved of the President's handling of the war on terror by a 51-43 margin (although they disapproved of his handling of the "situation in Iraq" by 40-56).

  • Keep in mind that these two polls were taken before the current trouble in Lebanon, but there doesn't appear any swing against the President for his precisely stated position that the US supports Israel's right to defend herself, but we urge restrain in the prosecution of that defense.

  • Among the Howard Dean/ McKinney wing of the Democratic Party, the results of the November elections should hinge on the question of whether the President's Iraq policy has made us safer from terrorist attacks.

  • Everyone wants the world to be at peace. But trying to impose peace on the planet appears to be pretty hard to do.

  • One of the short-hand measures the Popular Press has used over the years is the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists which has measured the danger to the planet from nuclear weapons via the hands of a "Doomsday Clock."

  • Since the adoption of the Clock shortly after the conclusion of World War II, we have never been more than 17 minutes from Doomsday. The closest was when the hands were set to two minutes to midnight … in 1953.

  • This is important because V-E Day (May 8, 1945) had been only eight years earlier. It is hard to imagine how the world could have been less safe than it had been while in the throes of World War II, but the build-up of nuclear arsenals in the US and USSR was a very real worry to the very real people who had recently returned home from fighting the war.

  • So it may be that the world has never been a safe place to be. Humans have been attacking humans since before there WERE humans. Mel Brooks once said that national anthems were invited by some guy who walked outside and sang: "My cave is better than your cave."

  • Humans are herd animals largely to (as our very own Constitution states in its preamble) "provide for the common defense."

  • Clans and tribes, provided safety and food to their members. As societies advanced, the need for more sophisticated defenses led to the medieval concept of the Lord of the Manor trading labor in his fields for protection against one marauding horde or another.

  • The manors accreted into city-states, then into the nations which have largely described our capacity to make war for the past three hundred-or-so years.

  • The world, in the eyes of the Neanderthals trying to make a living along the edges of the ice sheet, was a fairly limited, but very dangerous, place.

  • The world, in the eyes of those of us who awake to reports by journalists using satellite phones and the internet, is two hemispheres, five oceans, and seven continents.

  • And, some 10,000 years later, it is still a very dangerous place.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: Links to the LA Times poll, the Doomsday Clock, Neanderthals, and Seas and Oceans. Also a Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.