On New Year’s Eve I went to a party at a friend’s house where I met a very nice woman that had just moved to this country from Germany. I asked her if she was from the East or the West – she said, with what seemed a thankful expression, that she was from the West. She said she had visite~East Germany when she was a child and it scared her because everywhere there were men with machine guns and she did not understand what they were needed for.
I had flown home from Tampa, Fla., the day before, having spent Christmas with my parents. I had the exact same feelings about all the men with machine·guns at the Tampa airport as the German lady had about the armed soldiers in the East. Why were they needed? Were they really expecting a frontal assault? They certainly wouldn’t deter terrorists – if anything they would just increase the satisfaction terrorists would take from the success of their sneaky methodology. No, the men with machine guns were not there to discourage terrorists or to protect us. A machine gun in an airline terminal makes about as much sense as a fuel-air bomb in civilian-occupied theater of war. The men with guns at the airport were there for the sole purpose of getting the American people used to identity checks and interstate border crossings. That these efforts are succeeding is even more depressing than the success of the terrorists.