America seems much in need of Roosevelt’s maxim to stop fearing fear itself. Virtually all comment on the Mumbai massacre has mentioned 9/11 and al-Qaeda, and thus invited citizens to continue feeling afraid. No matter that Mumbai appears to have been primarily about Kashmir and the status of India’s Muslims. No matter that Osama bin Laden has no dog in that fight. Any stick will do to elevate al-Qaeda as America’s enemy number one.

Last week, the CIA warned of a terrorist threat that “might be unleashed” during the presidential transition, a threat which George Bush described as “dangerously real”. On Wednesday Barack Obama was formally told by a congressional inquiry that “it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction, either nuclear or biological, will be used in a terrorist attack” in his first year of office. The inquiry demanded an official be appointed “to oversee efforts to prevent such an attack,” as if millions of Americans in and out of uniform were not doing that already.

Simon Jenkins op piece

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