Hardly anybody mentioned al Qaeda in the midterm campaign, says Thomas Friedman in The New York Times, but that wasn't because the terrorist threat is behind us. On at least five occasions in the past year — including the "underwear bomber," the Times Square bomber, and the recent attempt to blow up U.S. bound cargo planes — al Qaeda or its ideological brethern have tried to inflict mass carnage on Americans. To date, we've simply been "incredibly lucky" in averting disaster. But we can't count on that good fortune forever. Here, an excerpt:
Imagine if all five had gone off? We would be checking the underwear of every airline passenger, you would have to pass through metal detectors to walk into Times Square or take the subway, and the global air cargo industry would be in turmoil, as every package would have to be sniffed by a bomb-detecting dog.
So, yes, we won the lottery five times in a row — and that’s just the attempts we know about. But one of these days, our luck is going to run out because the savage madness emanating from Al Qaeda, from single individuals it inspires over the Web and from its different franchisees — like the branches in Yemen and Iraq — is only increasing...
What do do?... For starters, we’re going to have to learn to live with more insecurity. Terrorism is awful, but it is not yet an existential threat. And we can’t let our response to it be to shut down our open society or tear ourselves apart with recriminations.