A bomb went off in the Khan marketplace in Cairo. We visited the area several times in the past week (and have plenty of authentic Pharonic crap to prove it). From what we’ve been told, the grenade injured several French tourists and Egyptians, killing one young French woman. No one among the American embassy staff knows what this will mean. Do we issue security warnings or advice Americans not the visit the Khan? Egypt needs its tourism dollars, and on a geopolitical sense, we want Egypt as an ally.
An interesting concept this sad episode revealed to us is the notion of the “reverse tripwire.” The security staff here wonders, if we advise Americans not to visit the Khan, what event that makes it safe in the future? The tripwire is easy to see: the explosion and death of a tourist. What is the reverse event that could make the market safer? Three months of peace? A year? The thing is: A nutjob will always be able to toss a grenade out of a window.
Some may view this as crass political commentary on a tragic day… so feel free to stop reading. But the reverse tripwire concept applies on a larger scale. When does the war on terrorism end? When do we go back to “normal” and say that full civil liberties are restored? Eight years of no terrorism by a foreign national on American soil? Osama dead? The thing is: Nutjobs will always be able to blow stuff up.
Self-evident by my unplanned posting, we’re all fine here in Egypt. Today we’re hundreds of miles away from Cairo, cruising downriver on the Nile towards Luxor and the Valley of the Kings.