Belmont Club

Definitely Stupid

Two interesting items in the last few hours explain take the debate over whether president Obama’s failures are due to malice or incompetence in opposite directions.  Megyn Kelly’s recent Tweet which says, “in  the middle of #Orlando investigation, the Obama admin quietly announced it’s increasing the number of refugees coming to US” would appear to settle the issue decisively in favor of malice.

But the second item, an article in the Washington Post by Rick Noack, turns it entirely around.  Noack explains that the reason terror suspects involved in recent attacks have not been monitored is because there are simply not enough security personnel to do it. “It’s impossible to monitor all terror suspects,” he writes. “These charts show why.”  The charts proceed to show that Western police forces no longer have the manpower to track more than a small fraction of the suspected bad guys.

To cover the 3,000 terror suspects in the UK would take 40% of the entire police force, so the British cops track no more than 50. “If France wanted to observe all 11,000 terror suspects in the country, it would need its entire police force of 220,000 officers — or more.” That is obviously out of the question, especially since ISIS has now taken to whittling down the number of French police by killing them.  It would take 5/8 — about 63% of the US police force — to watch the 25,000 individuals on the watch list.

The developments that Megyn Kelly describes doesn’t make the security situation hopeless.  It has been hopeless for some time.  Yet the tragedy was entirely self-inflicted.  A national security team of ex-novelists and campaign drivers sort of fell into it.  The same crew that gave you the Arab Spring, the Reset and Benghazi now give you … politicians in blind pursuit of virtue signalling who simply ran over the cliff.

One might ask how the Western elites could be so stupid as to get into a situation, where like Titanic, the threat is coming in faster than it can be pumped out.  They may have even paid for some this influx from public funds. The Western elites first imported ISIS in the most expensive conceivable way and then proceeded to manage them through the most inefficient method imaginable.  They imported a threat which as Foreign Policy points out is effectively a state-sponsored shock unit and now find they can’t afford to monitor it.  Why it’s almost like promising pensions that can’t be funded.

The only conceivable explanation for this fiasco is pure unadulterated arrogance and stupidity.  The aristocrats in Beltway class fooled themselves into thinking nothing could threaten them, and when something did they imagined it could be held back by closing a porthole here and dogging a hatch there.

In 1997 movie ship owner Bruce Ismay at first treats the iceberg as a minor inconvenience before he realizes he’s in big trouble.

Ismay: Most unfortunate, captain!
Thomas Andrews: Water… fourteen feet above the keel in ten minutes. In the forepeak, in all three holds and in the boiler room six.
Ismay: When can we get underway, damnit!
Thomas Andrews: That’s five compartments! She can stay afloat with the first four compartments breached, but not five!
Thomas Andrews: Not five. As she goes down by the head, the water will spill over the tops of the bulkheads at E deck from one to the next. Back and back. There’s no stopping it.
Smith: The pumps… if we opened the doors…
Thomas Andrews: [interrupting] The pumps buy you time, but minutes only. From this moment, no matter what we do, Titanic will founder.
Ismay: [incredulously] But this ship can’t sink!
Thomas Andrews: She’s made of iron, sir! I assure you, she can… and she will. It is a mathematical certainty.
Smith: How much time?
Thomas Andrews: An hour… two at most.

When Ismay finally gets it, his former complacency is replaced by rank desperation.  He goes in an instant from demanding service de luxe to saving his hide. The crunch time — driven by “mathematical certainty”  — is compounded by the fact the elites do not have the capability to control the restive natives either.  If 63% of the US police force are required to watch the ISIS suspects, who’s left to watch the “vast right wing conspiracy”?

The Washington Post article suggests that making deals with the Muslim community is the only remaining hope to eke out the manpower of the police.  When Obama says he needs to stay in the good graces of the Islamic community he is telling the truth as only a frightened man can tell it. Both the administration’s policy of pandering to the Islamic community and its attempts to disarm the natives — prominently on display in recent days — are best explained by desperation rather than confidence.

Instead of observing most suspects themselves, intelligence agencies and police authorities have to rely on relatives, neighbors or informants to warn of plots. Research has indeed shown that the overwhelming majority of terrorism plots in the United States were prevented because individuals close to the attackers informed authorities on time.

The masses of people are accustomed to thinking of the elites as smarter than themselves.  But when civilizations teeter it is usually because the elites have proved stupider than the common man.  This may be the case now.  So to return to the debate: was the administration malign or stupid to sink the ship under its own feet?  Of the two causes, stupid seems the stronger case.

There was no joy on that dark ocean that night for Bruce Ismay or Thomas Andrews.  There was no satisfaction either for those who were wrong or those who proved right.  Both for those who were brave or those who trembled in fear, it was sad when the great ship went down.

Captain Edward J. Smith: I don’t think the Board of Trade regulations ever visualized this situation. Do you?

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