The Year of The Exploding Underpants 45

The extraordinarily incompetent Nigerian underpant bomber somehow seems a fit conclusion to the year. The debate on my last post has garnered 235 comments already. What comes over most strongly is the absolute desperate, psychological need of the right for the “War on Terror” to be real.

Given the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, of course there is huge resentment towards the West in much of the Islamic world, and a small fringe willing to carry that resentment into violence. That is an unavoidable consequence of the hundreds of thousands of deaths for which US, UK and Israel have been responsible.

But for the right, it is not enough that they have created a threat which is real; it must be not only real, but enormous. John Reid famously described the Islamic terrorist threat as being as great as the Second World War, whereas Tony Blair described it as an “existential threat”. Both are massive, incredible exaggerations.

The armaments, oil, and security industries, and the politicians they fund, of course make massive profits from the government policies, including wars, enacted in response to a massive exaggeration of the threat. But many on the right have a psychological rather than merely material need for an enemy, for an embodiment of evil, and for the idea of being involved in a gripping life or death battle.

This is difficult to sustain, as the actual battles involve merely our use of absolutely overwhelming power to devastate weak nations. Hence the disproportionately weak reactions must be hyped to sustain the narrative. The sad truth that a pathetic Nigerian wannabe terrorist singed his own gonads must be buried beneath a raft of stories that the explosive was powerful enough to blow a hole in an aeroplane.

The right are desperate to hear that the plane would have been destroyed, hundreds killed, and probably could have ploughed into a big building and killed thousands. In their fantasy world they are fighting off these disasters. In the real world, a Nigerian man singed his own gonads. That is not to excuse him. He planned to do harm and may be a very horrible person indeed. But he just singed his own gonads. It is also worth noting that, if he had destroyed the plane, he would have killed only one third of the innocent civilians who died on just day one of “Shock and Awe” in Iraq.

There is no existential threat to the Western world from Islam. Sorry.

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45 thoughts on “The Year of The Exploding Underpants

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  • writerman

    Fear is a strange and very powerful emotion. Those who offer to protect us, rarely do so without exacting a price. Often that price is higher than the cost of what we fear. Hitler was probably the ultimate warrior/protector figure.

  • Barbara

    anticant, jaded, dreoilin and writerman,

    Sorry, but what comes across to me is that You are the ones who seem consumed by panic and paranoia.

    Posting anonymously for a start, and musing about fear and ‘they what are taking over our world’ conspiracy.

    Keyboard doom-sayers – gotta luv’em.

    Happy New Year.

  • dreoilin


    If you only knew. I couldn’t be less “consumed by panic and paranoia”.

    I have far too much else on my mind.

    Happy New Year to you. 🙂

  • MJ

    “Often that price is higher than the cost of what we fear”

    Indeed. Benjamin Franklin’s remark could have been aimed at these strange times:

    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety, and ultimately will have neither”.

  • ingo

    A danger he was, that is undeniably true, but most to himself.

    I feel as if we are not yet in full knowledge of all that happened.

    If the CIA knew before hand, David, for weeks going by various sources as pointed out, then they are as guilty as the bomber himself.

    If they knew of a Nigerian bomb plot for such a long time, what would it take to switch the syringe, slightly altering the initiator chems and handing it back to him? or switch it somehow? in that, making sure that the patriot act is safe from obliteration, a massive media support from ever more restrictive practises, ensuring that

    nobody but his gonads were hurt?

    Just do not trust the terror mongers, if they can torture people at will, such deceit is not far off their routine.

  • peacewisher

    Think I’m on the same page as Barbara on this one.

    The point I was making was that even if it was planned – then it was a potentially dangerous strategy simply because the events took place on a plane, probably 35000 feet in the air.

    If it was a set up with a Parsy/Stooge/whatever… 250 lives were still potentially placed at risk. To give Obama some credit, perhaps that is why he went ballistic.

  • Anonymous

    Obama is just Bush with black skin and a knack for good oratory. Yes, he really reprimanded the guilty parties by going ballistic at Yemen!

  • Horace

    Interesting article at or via What Really Happened under Crotchbomber. Our old friends the Israelis are deeply involved apparently. Typically, Brown’s knees are jerking – he must be seen to be saving his people. You can be stopped at Customs in the EU for failing to pay child support but they cannot identify a terrorist?

  • David Allen


    “Now Hitler really was an existential threat, but there were plenty of jokes about him flying around in WW2. But you wouldn’t have accused those making the jokes of making light of the casualties of the blitz.”

    Bad analogy. Everybody knew Hitler was a threat (we were at war!). The jokes about Hitler were partly for fun, but they were also intended to ridicule the guy and give the Brits a boost of confidence that they could beat him. Nobody can be sure what Mutallab was all about (yes he might be false flag, he might be an isolated nutter, or he might be effectively Al Qaida, we just don’t know). In those circumstances, why crack jokes? Doesn’t it make it look as if you are trying to deny the threat?

    “I have not said he was not a threat. He was. But an underpants bomb that does nothing but damage the wearer’s genitals is undeniably comic.”

    Hmm. An undertaker who slips on a banana skin during a funeral is also undeniably comic. But if you dared to make a joke of it, you would inevitably cause offence. I think there are better subjects for humour than other people’s funerals, or other people’s close brushes with disaster in the air.

  • dreoilin

    “or other people’s close brushes with disaster in the air”–David Allen

    I’m not convinced that it was a close brush with disaster. But even if it was, if we didn’t smile or even laugh sometimes at all this carry-on, we’d go barmy.


    “Brown calls summit after bomb attack”

    too seriously when there was no “bomb attack”, would do all of our heads in.

  • Ianf

    Craig> “Given […] the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, OF COURSE there is huge resentment towards the West in much of the Islamic world […]” (emphasis mine)

    Oh, really? My ongoing impression of the “Western-Islamic conflict” (for want of a better description; as observed in a range of Western newspapers and magazines) is that Islamic bien-pensants and fundamentalists alike couldn’t care less for what happens to their Palestinian/ Gazan nominal-brethren. They may dislike Israel on principle as “foreign Western state in eternal Arab lands”, and occupier of their alleged third most holy city (or some such, much of this anecdotal), but the open-minded among them know that Israel’s presence there hasn’t been without its merits. Also for the Israeli Palestinians, who, second-class citizens though they might be, do not seem to be longing much for any greater degree of dependence on their own Fatah and/or Hamas-electees.

    Perhaps you’d therefore care not to bake in your personal “Israel=villian” antipathies with the bigger world-spanning conflict. Or at least SPELL OUT FIRST how would you go about solving the West Bank and/or Gaza real-life problem to Muslims’ contention…. so we all could have a laff.

  • Tony Rogers

    “But many on the right have a psychological rather than merely material need for an enemy” – Craig Murray

    By the “right”, I take it you’re referring to the New Labour government, who’ve been addicted to war from the beginning – supported by a cretinous political class who pretended to believe their lies?

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