Friday night topic: It's gonna get worse


— 6:00 PM on December 21, 2001

The campaign in Afghanistan has been a resounding success, but I'm much more pessimistic than most folks about what comes next. World War III is just getting started. We will have to pursue al Qaeda into Pakistan, the Philippines, Sudan, Syria, and elsewhere, either by invitation or by force. Al Qaeda cells operate more or less independently, and they may have Soviet backpack nukes in the U.S. We tend to discount this possibility because it's too terrible to think about, but a nuclear bomb could be detonated in New York (or London or Tel Aviv) at any time. We'll have to torture information out of the terrorist operatives we've captured in order to prevent the worst.

Meanwhile, war is brewing in Palestine, as the Israelis use newfound leeway from the U.S. to pressure Arafat. Arafat has responded by taking real action, arresting Palestinian policemen and reigning in Hamas—which, ironically, proves Arafat's raw culpability for the recent rash of terrorist attacks in Israel. He could have stopped them. Or perhaps Arafat doesn't have the power to control Palestinine's terrorist groups, in which case Palestine may soon face civil war, as well.

The Chinese grow more sinister, supplying weapons to Al Qaeda after September 11. Argentina's in the dumpster. And then there's Saddam's stockpile of weapons of mass destruction growing larger by the day.

As weapons technology progresses, the capacity of a few men to inflict suffering on masses of their fellow men grows exponentially. On the brink of 2002, despite the bounty of good things wrought by free democratic republics, the world is a more dangerous place than ever. Discuss.

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