When there’s a shark in the water, you get people out of the water, right?

I hope Barack Obama is thinking about terrorism in the way that Brody, in the movie Jaws, thought about sharks, for Osama bin Laden appears to be targeting at least one high visibility tourist area in Europe for a terrorist attack, and according to AP:

The Obama administration is considering a broad warning for U.S. citizens to avoid public places in Europe due to new al-Qaida threats, U.S. and European officials told The Associated Press on Saturday.

What to do, what to do! Such a formal warning, of course, could hurt business:

Some U.S. allies in Europe have expressed concern about the proposed warning, saying it is an overreaction to the threat information, a position shared by some in the administration, the officials said.

Hopefully, these are not administration officials to which President Obama is inclining his ear too closely right now.

Oh, and what business might be hurt by such a warning, exactly? Here’s the AP again:

Such a move could have significant implications for European tourism.

So here we go. Time to watch Jaws:


Update: Have the business interests gotten to President Obama? AP’s update on the story now has the Obama administration just considering a vigilance advisory. Translation: the administration has caved. And if you’re in Europe, and a terror attack occurs, and you find yourself in a bad situation, don’t say we didn’t warn you. If you or your family gets hurt or killed, it will be your fault. You weren’t vigilant enough:

The Obama administration is considering telling U.S. citizens to be vigilant as they travel in Europe, updated guidance prompted by fresh al-Qaida threats, American and European officials told The Associated Press on Saturday.

This strikes me as a half measure (and perhaps symptomatic of President Obama’s governing style generally, splitting the difference). I generally think this is wise—to split the difference on complex matters—but not with something like this. If the threat is there, get people “out of the water.” That’s my view.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to When there’s a shark in the water, you get people out of the water, right?

  1. Paradigm says:

    I think Obama is concerned that this threat level will soon be a permanent state here in Europe. If so his warning will eventually imply that you should no longer travel to Europe at all. And no liberal politician wants to deliver such a pessimistic message.

    • santitafarella says:


      Startling (and depressing) if true. Do you think that these fanatics would have any compunction about destroying the Louvre?

      To their way of thinking, first, you hit a major symbol of the Western Enlightenment—global capitalism (the World Trade Center). Then, you hit one of its major pagan visual/aesthetic symbols of Western “idol worship.” It would be an act of the fiercest sort of iconoclasm.

      When we invaded Iraq and didn’t secure the museum in Baghdad, I thought it was one of the most short sighted and barbarous things we could have done. Likewise, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to lose forever the treasures of the Louvre. What tourists sites in Europe mean are sites wherein Western cultural treasures are housed. What if these fanatics took after the museum quarter in Berlin, and we lost Nefertiti forever?


  2. Paradigm says:

    I don’t think they can do much about the Louvre. Most major attacks here have focused on public transport. This suggest that the buildings are harder to access and that they now instead aim to kill as many people as possible.

    As for tourist sites, I suspect Turkish resorts are likely targets. They are very popular since they are so cheap, and they probably have less security.

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