I See London, I See France, I See Bombs in Underpants

So this Lonesome Luke rich Nigerian kid, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, hops on a plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day with a bomb sewn into his underpants.  As the plane begins to land, the kid tries to set off the bomb and it does little more than give him third-degree burns on his tallywhacker, and the entire civilized world goes snake guano.   

Many observers have compared the rich Nigerian kid with the skivvy bomb with shoe bomber Richard Reid who tried to blow up an airplane over the Atlantic in 2001.  The explosive in Reid’s shoes was the same type the Nigerian kid had in his drawers, PETN.  Had Reid been able to detonate his shoes, he presumably would have blown his toes off.  

The rich Nigerian kid had twice as much of the explosive in his boxers as Reid had in his shoes.  Federal authorities say if the kid’s panties had gone boom like they were supposed to, they would have blown a hole in the side of the aircraft.  That would have caused something called "explosive decompression," which isn’t as horrible as it sounds.  Unlike what you may have seen in thriller entertainments, decompressions don’t suck everybody out of the airplane — unless, of course, the hole is big enough to break the airplane in half, in which case being sucked out of it becomes a minor concern.    

The media have been frothing over the prospect that the rich Nigerian kid is connected to al-Qaeda.  The kid himself told authorities that he has ties to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).  That could mean just about anything.  It could mean some huckster recognized him as a screwed up rich kid with radical Islamic leanings, sidled up to him, and said, Psst. Young Man.  I am with al-Qaeda. We’ve had our eye on you for some time now, and we like what we see.  You want the martyrdom, the virgins, the seat beside Allah?  Well, I have a lovely little bomb you can sneak onboard an airplane in your Fruit of the Looms, and for you I’ll part with it for a mere $100,000 US, and believe me, I’m losing money on the deal.   

Who are these AQAP hooligans, anyway?  They’re described as an al-Qaeda "offshoot."  Does that mean they’re a subsidiary of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, kind of like KBR is an offshoot of Dick Cheney’s Halliburton?  AQAP formed in January 2009 when al-Qaeda in Yemen merged with Saudi Arabia’s al-Qaeda.  Whatever you do, don’t mistake AQAP or Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which more than anything else resembles a Pittsburg garage band that calls itself "The Rolling Stones of Pennsylvania."   

AQAP has taken credit for the rich Nigerian kid’s bombing attempt, which tells us the outfit is a gang of losers.  Taking credit for the Detroit plane bombing is like Winston Churchill bragging about his role in Gallipoli: yeah, I’m the schmuck who arranged that unmitigated disaster.   

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who never met an issue he couldn’t be partisan about, criticized Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for appearing "bored" on the Christmas weekend political gab-athons.  "There was no intensity, there was no show of emotion," King said.  King obviously would have preferred the female Democrat to appear hysterical and disoriented.  

As it was, Napolitano did more than sufficient damage to herself by claiming that "the system worked."  Yeah.  A rich Nigerian kid who’s on a watch list and whose respected banker father has warned authorities may be a terrorist risk manages to board an airplane headed for America with a pant load of bomb and no passport and the freaking system worked?  Napolitano later retracted her statement, but the damage had been done.  Like President Obama finally said, there was a "systematic failure" of America’s security apparatus.   

Speaking of saying stupid things: I have two graduate degrees in bull crap, I know exactly what it sounds like, and I hear it every time lipstick neocon Joe Lieberman opens his mouth.  Like Dick Cheney, Lieberman managed to get himself deferred out of the Vietnam conflict, first for attending Yale and Yale Law School and then for managing to get his wife pregnant.  Joe’s only real warmongering credentials are his conspicuous displays of smoking John McCain’s stogie, but that appears to be enough for him to get by.  Joe never met a war he didn’t like: except, of course, for the one he managed to dodge when he was of draft age.   

Joe told FOX News "Iraq was yesterday’s war. Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war."  Joe’s always been one for acting preemptively.  He was a leading proponent of going off half-cocked into Iraq.  He still thinks preemptive deterrence is an enlightened method of foreign policy. Joe might want to stitch his pie hole shut on the subject of military actions and look into what’s wrong with the Homeland Security structure, seeing as how he’s the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and all.     

Joe doesn’t seem to understand, however, that we’re already doing preemptive things in Yemen.  The US was involved in a pre-Christmas air strike on Yemen’s Sa’ada Province.  CIA agents and Special Operations forces began covert ops in Yemen a year ago.  This has all been done, of course, without a declaration of war or an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) from Congress, much as the Bush administration blew villages in Somalia to smithereens without authorization from the legislature.  We don’t have presidents any more.  We have emperors.   

Non-G.I. Joe says Yemen is now one of the "centers" of the fight against terrorism, and Joe’s not the only war dog who thinks Yemen is the next military-industrial mother lode.   

"Yemen’s security problems won’t just stay in Yemen," says Christopher Boucek, who studies Yemen as an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. "They’re regional problems and they affect Western interests." 

Lest you think the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is actually interested in peace, be advised that another of its associates is Robert Kagan of the neocon Kagans who include father Donald Kagan and brother Fred Kagan who played a major role in designing both the Iraq and Afghanistan surges.  Robert Kagan is also the long-time publishing and ideological partner of Weekly Standard editor and Project for the New American Century founder Bill Kristol.   

Keep in mind, then, that Christopher Boucek’s real job at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is to start a full-blown war in Yemen, and the job of everyone else at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is sustain international warfare for as long as humanly possible.  

And now we’re all hot to trot off to war in Yemen because of some spoiled, screwed up Muslim kid who, by the way, comes from Nigeria, not Yemen, just as the 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, not Afghanistan.

Author: Jeff Huber

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (retired), was a naval flight officer who commanded an aircraft squadron and was operations officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier that fought the Kosovo War. Jeff earned a master of arts degree in post-modern imperialism at the U.S. Naval War College. His weekly satires on U.S. foreign policy high jinks are archived at his blog, Pen and Sword. Jeff's critically applauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon of America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Jeff lives with dogs in a house by the beach on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, and in the summer he has a nice tan.