1. The U.S. and U.K. authorities all say the alleged terrorists "might" have links to Al Qaeda. Does this mean authorities have no evidence of a link? What is exactly is a link?
2. The alleged terrorists in this plot are mainly UK born and bred. Did UK participation in the Iraq war inspire their plot?
3. Why are the authorities banning liquids and gels only in the cabins? Why not in the checked baggage compartments as well? Does one need to detonate these kinds of explosives manually? Or could it be done with a timer or other remote device? If so, why is there any benefit from banning the liquids and gels just in the cabins? If it is possible to detonate liquid explosives using a remote device from the cabin, then why did the plotters not use that approach?
4. There are millions of possible targets for terrorists other than airplanes (trains, bridges, soccer stadiums, school buses, restaurants, and so on), and terrorists have chosen other targets many times (e.g., the London and Madrid subways). Why would terrorists again focus on airplanes? Because an airplane explosion over the Atlantic is dramatic? To prove they can do it despite all the added security measures since 9/11?
5. Why do the press and the public seem to accept that everything the authorities are telling us about this alleged plot is correct? Consider statements made after the London police shot and killed a man suspected of being connected with the London subway attacks in July 2005:
London police say a man they shot to death in front of horrified subway riders Friday was "directly linked" to their investigation of recent bombings aimed at the city's transit system.
It turned out, of course, that the man had no connection whatsoever to the subway bombings.
1. The information released by authorities yesterday seems to imply that all the waiting in line at airport security since 9/11 has been a total waste of time; terrorists have had the ability all along to blow up planes using liquid explosives.
2. A widely held view about the cause of terrorism against the U.S. / U.K. is that the terrorists hate freedom, or Christianity, or Jews, or U.S. wealth, or U.S. influence in the world. A different view is that the terrorists hate U.S. / U.K. intervention in the Middle East and the U.S. / U.K. support of Israel.
3. If the second view is correct, the only way for the U.S. and U.K. to substantially reduce terrorism is to eliminate their presence in the Middle East and stop supporting Israel. Note that Germany and France, which did not participate in the Iraq invasion, have not been the targets of attacks.
3. There has been much commentary in op-eds pages and the blogosphere about whether it is anti-Semitic to criticize Israel's invasion of Lebanon. That question should be irrelevant. The right question is whether it serves U.S. interests to support Israel.
4. My answer is No. Our support of Israel makes the U.S. a target of terrorism, and it does nothing to promote peace or prosperity in the Middle East. A better policy, for the U.S. and for Jews around the world, is open borders. Imagine how the history of the past 75 years would have been different if the U.S. had offered unrestricted immigration in the 1930s and 1940s. Jews would have left Europe in large numbers. The Holocaust, if it had occurred, would been vastly smaller. The U.S., U.K., and other powers would probably not have created Israel. All the wars between Israel and Arab countries would not have taken place. For that matter, open borders would have reduced or eliminated other humanitarian calamaties, such as the killing fields in Cambodia in the 1970s or the slaughter in Bosnia in the 1990s. And so on.
5. To be clear, I am not suggesting elimination of Israel: it exists, and it has the right to defend itself. My best guess is that it can do so successfully without U.S. support (which is a separate question from whether the recent invasion of Lebanon is in Israel's best interests). But the U.S. should play no role, positive or negative. This is exactly the position the U.S. should take regarding conflicts around the world.