For John, BLUF: Be alert. As they say, "The world needs more lets." Nothing to see here; just move along.
Istanbul (AFP) - The tourists are so scarce you can hear their footsteps clattering down the empty shopping street. Nearly a week after the deadly airport bombings, it is eerily quiet in Istanbul.A friend of mine summed it up this way:
The magic of Turkey's biggest city has been seducing visitors for centuries, from its array of historic mosques and palaces to its stunning views over the sparkling Bosphorus.
But for people working in the once-thriving tourist trade, Tuesday's gun and suicide bomb spree represents one more nail in the coffin for an industry already reeling from a string of attacks this year.
"It's disastrous," said Orhan Sonmez as he stood hopelessly offering tours of the Hagia Sophia, the cavernous former mosque and church that is now a museum.
"All my life I've been a tour guide. Most of us have come to a turning point where we don't know if we can go on. It's tragic."
Restaurants sit empty in the Sultanahmet tourist district, and five-star hotel rooms can be booked for bargain prices.
Terrorist attacks against tourist sites appear to be a deliberate strategy. Luxor in Egypt. A Tunisian resort. Istanbul.I would add Mall of America or Branson, Missouri, "Live Entertainment Capital Of The World" or "Lost Wages", Nevada.
Given the role tourism plays in many local economies, it would appear, again, that ISIS and other terrorist groups have figured out how to strike at a key vulnerability, one which would not typically be listed if we were to prioritize by typical national security standards. Protecting the White House or the Smithsonian? 99% of folks would pick the White House, but these days, it may be that the Smithsonian would be a more lucrative target.
I have Progressive friends who think that terrorism in the United States (and Europe) is all about the "right wing". About the Republicans and their looney friends. We will see.
As an aside, do we have a category issue when a second generation American, who has pledged allegiance to Daesh (or some other foreign group) commits an act of terrorism on our soil? Is that domestic terrorism or more terrorism as an act of war?
Regards — Cliff