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    Australian Embassy bombing and Asia in the WOT

    Damn. Never published this last week. The Australian Embassy bombing in Jakarta doesn’t seem to be getting much play in the American press. Thankfully, there were only 9 deaths–multiple times fewer than in the Bali bombing–but there were nearly 200 people injured. Simon World makes the following point:

    What matters is what the American people themselves believe. Using the major media and the blogosphere as (an admittedly imperfect) proxy, there has been some expressions of sympathy and interest, but far broader indifference and ignorance. Instead there’s much concern over whether George Bush dodged a medical 30 years ago and whether the proof was faked. I agree it is an issue. So is John Kerry’s Vietnam record. But there are nowhere near as important an issue as what does need talking about. Where are Bush and Kerry planning to take America in the next 4 years? What are they planning to do in the war on terror? On Iraq? On helping allies like Australia? On defeating al Qaeda, JI and their ilk? There seems to be a major case of not seeing the forest for the trees at the moment in American polity. The losers are not just Americans, but the world.

    I think it’s dangerous to take the blogosphere as representative of the American public, which was probably paying as little attention to the Dan Rather memo story as it was to the Jakarta bombing. I suspect that for a lot of people, the attention-grabbing issue was the 9/11 anniversary, which was impending last week and happening Saturday.

    I generally only post on something if I think I have commentary to add, and I don’t conceive of myself as a news source (though I’ll occasionally give translations of key parts of Japanese articles). But Simon is right: Australia is an ally, it was targeted, and we should be showing support. So though it’s late, let me say that we’re with Australia.

    In a veiled way, I’ve tried to indicate when I think the Koizumi administration deserves more expressions of solidarity from Americans for its support in the WOT, too, since much of it–especially the deployment of SDF personnel in Iraq–comes in the face of a good deal of opposition. (Thankfully, while Japan has been named as a target by al Qaeda, there have been no attacks here, and the Japanese taken hostage in Iraq have been released.)

    Unfortunately, underappreciation of our allies’ loyalty isn’t the only problem; I wish Americans also had a better sense of what those allies are up against, in practical terms. The sheer number of people and shipped items that travel daily through Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai and Singapore is mind-blowing. The populations of most East Asian countries are huge, too. There was talk a few months ago that al Qaeda was setting up a cell here, probably for money laundering, and the Algerian-French man in question wasn’t caught despite being wanted by Interpol. This is in Japan, a country with Westernized infrastructure, in which non-natives are very visible and the law enforcement systems highly developed. Most other Asian countries are far less organized, and those with home-grown terrorists cannot rely on better border patrols to help screen them out. I can understand why Iraq tends to absorb people’s attention, since our own men and women are over there, but the world is a big place. Asia is probably the best place on Earth if you want to move yourself and your stuff undetected, and the evidence is that Islamist terrorists know it. Thanks to our friends here for doing what they can.

    3 Responses to “Australian Embassy bombing and Asia in the WOT”

    1. Simon says:

      Thanks Sean. Appreciate the thoughts…I think now that Glenn linked it a whole lot more people are aware of the issue I raised, which was my main aim. I know America is with Australia and has plenty of sympathy for our plight as we do yours, but sometimes these things need to be said rather than thought.

    2. I must hereby give my thanks to our valiant allies Japan and Australia, and my condolences to the injured and to the loved ones of those who perished in that vicious attack in Jakarta.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      I didn’t know whether to mention this, since it could unintentionally come off as, “At least no Australians–i.e., real people–were killed,” when that’s not what I mean. But it is a fact that seems significant: Everyone killed in the bombing was Indonesian, so far as I know. In Asia terrorists have a habit of hurting more of their own people than of their supposed targets. Granted that some of that is due to ineptitude and primitive equipment, it still gives credence to the point that terrorists care more about destructiveness than about battling a particular adversary.