December 15, 2003
Lucky Once

I remember hearing the "Lucky Once" concept expressed in reference to the IRA, but the concept theoretically applies to terrorist organizations anywhere. The terrorist has an advantage -- up to a point -- with the idea that the government has to be lucky all the time in order to prevent terrorism, whereas the terrorist only has to be lucky once to be successful. True enough.

But once a terrorist organization is identified *and targetted*, that rule regarding luck gets flipped around. Now the fugitive has to stay lucky all the time, whereas the government forces only have to get lucky once.

The task forces set up by the US and its allies to capture "Iraq's Most Wanted" (remember the playing cards?) and al Queda have been working at it for a while. They expand their intelligence, they capture more members, which expands their intelligence, and the cycle continues. As long as the task forces remain focused on their task, they must, inevitably, succeed.

Saddam Hussein had to stay lucky forever. We only had to get lucky once. And luck always gets better the more you work at it. We've been working at it. Mr. Hussein's luck ran out when the US finally captured the guy who could point to where Hussein was hiding out.

There's all kinds of irony that abounds here. al Queda had to get lucky to bring down the twin towers; in fact, it has been reported that they weren't expecting quite that much luck. But now they and similar terrorist organizations might find themselves done in by their own initial success.* They finally got our attention.

Now that they do, in fact, have our full attention, can they stay lucky forever?

Unless the federal government loses its will, Osama Bin Laden and the remains of the al Queda network will be found. We only need to get lucky once.

* Note that the terrorists have succeeded, on a few occasions, in carrying out terrorist acts. They have not, by and large, succeeded in their supposed political goals. What was the point of striking the twin towers? To crush the US? To encourage us to pull out of the Middle East? To convince us to abandon Israel? This is the problem with the "lucky once" concept. It's not enough to be lucky in your means. The idea is to be lucky in attaining your goals. Terrorism can be a means to expelling an invading army. Sometimes. But as a foreign policy tool, it really isn't a terribly effective means for attaining your goals.

Posted by on December 15, 2003 12:51 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits III


Luck favors the well prepared.


Posted by: Tony on December 16, 2003 9:35 AM

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On Dec 16, Tony said:
"Luck favors the well prepared. tony..." on entry: Lucky Once.

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