UPDATE, Sunday 5:15 p.m.: Please see the follow-up to this post, here.
The Post reports:
A massive explosion rocked a government district in Norway’s capital Friday, killing seven people and injuring many more, and a shooter at a political convention on an island north of Oslo appeared to have inflicted more casualties, in incidents police are treating as connected, a police spokesman said.
Thomas Joscelyn explains at the Weekly Standard Web site:
Just one year ago, authorities in Oslo broke up an al Qaeda-directed bomb plot that originated in northern Pakistan. Good intelligence, including intercepted emails between an al Qaeda planner and the Oslo cell, prevented the plotters from assembling and launching their bomb. . . .
Oslo was not as fortunate today. . . .
We don’t know if al Qaeda was directly responsible for today’s events, but in all likelihood the attack was launched by part of the jihadist hydra. Prominent jihadists have already claimed online that the attack is payback for Norway’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
Moreover, there is a specific jihadist connection here: “Just nine days ago, Norwegian authorities filed charges against Mullah Krekar, an infamous al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist who, with help from Osama bin Laden, founded Ansar al Islam – a branch of al Qaeda in northern Iraq – in late 2001.”
This is a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists. I spoke to Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute, who has been critical of proposed cuts in defense and of President Obama’s Afghanistan withdrawal plan. “There has been a lot of talk over the past few months on how we’ve got al-Qaeda on the run and, compared with what it once was, it’s become a rump organization. But as the attack in Oslo reminds us, there are plenty of al-Qaeda allies still operating. No doubt cutting the head off a snake is important; the problem is, we’re dealing with global nest of snakes.”
It would be a good opportunity, in light of this attack and talk about huge cuts in defense, to take a look at the recent testimony of former Missouri senator Jim Talent (now advising Romney) on defense spending. He told the House Budget Committee on July 7:
There is unquestionably a cost to sustaining military strength, and the Budget Committee must take that cost into account. But there is also a price to be paid for weakness; it can be very substantial and if the Committee is going to budget honestly you must take that into account as well. The upshot is that in the last two decades, the combination of increased deployment, reduced force structure, and under-funded procurement and modernization has caused a decline in America’s military capability. In the late 1970s, America’s military “hollowed.” Now it is stressing and rusting; inventories are aging and increasingly out of date technologically. The Navy has fewer ships than at any time since 1916. The Air Force inventory is smaller and older than at any time since the service came into being in 1947. The Army has missed several generations of modernization, and many of its soldiers are on their fourth or fifth tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. The Reserves have been on constant mobilization and are under stress; many vital programs, such as missile defense, have been cut; the space architecture is old and needs to be replaced; and in the past two years, no fewer than 50 modernization programs have been ended.
Some irresponsible lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — I will point the finger at Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and yet backed the Gang of Six scheme to cut $800 billion from defense — would have us believe that enormous defense cuts would not affect our national security. Obama would have us believe that al-Qaeda is almost caput and that we can wrap up things in Afghanistan. All of these are rationalizations for doing something very rash, namely curbing our ability to defend the United States and our allies in a very dangerous world.