America Faces a New World, and We are Not Prepared

Crime scene investigators work at the scene of Saturday's explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

As it happens, I was in New York City on Saturday night when an explosion rocked Chelsea. I was nowhere near the explosion (in fact I was in Midtown), so I had no idea that an explosion had even occurred when I trudged my way back to my hotel at night and fell into my bed asleep. The first indication I had that anything had gone wrong was when I woke up, turned on my phone, and had about two dozen messages of various kinds asking me if I was okay.

I’m sure millions of people across New York (and probably New Jersey and Connecticut to boot) woke up to similar messages this morning – as well as millions of people in Minnesota who had to assure loved ones that they were okay, nowhere near the mall where the stabbing occurred, everyone is fine.

And then of course, worse, there are are the people who answered these messages with replies that no, everything is not okay, someone you love has been injured and we still don’t know the final prognosis. Thankfully, this time, the number of people who are facing life threatening injuries is small. As of the time I write this post, only the Minnesota attacker is currently listed as a fatality of last night’s attacks.

It’s a reality that’s becoming distressingly familiar in America, and one that will more likely than not become yet more familiar still in the coming years. Our reality is going to become the reality that many countries have faced for years – regular frantic calls to everyone you know in a given area, just to make sure. Just to make sure that your loved ones are okay and weren’t among the unlucky ones who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The problem is that America does not really have a good idea how we want to respond to this new reality yet. The evidence of that can be seen in the candidates America has chosen to direct their foreign policy. One of the choices has been an unmitigated disaster when she was in charge of the State Department. The other is likely worse, guided by a total ignorance of appropriate counter terror measures and also, by the way, possibly in the pocket of Vladimir Putin.

I don’t really know that any of the candidates had a perfect plan to combat the rise of domestic terror. But I know that it should have been obvious that neither Trump nor Clinton had an answer that was even decent – and we decided to nominate them anyway.

My feeling is that America will eventually come to their senses and understand what this struggle will entail in the long term. But right now, we are showing the world – and our enemies – that we have no idea how to effectively combat them at all.