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National security or the elimination of evil?
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, January 17, 2008

John Tierney makes good points and asks good questions...
The officials promoting fear of terrorism in America can point mainly to the images of one day. The Sept. 11 attacks were said to be the start of a new age of international terrorism in America, but you wouldn’t know it from the six quiet years on the home front since then. Of course, that could change any day ... But as John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University, points out in “Overblown,” these predictions of terrorists causing mass destruction were made for much of the past century without any of them coming true.

If you look at long-term trends in terrorism, either domestically or internationally, you don’t see a a clear sign that things are getting worse. A lot depends on what you look at — the number of incidents (which declined after the 1980s) or the casualties (which have gone up by some counts). [...] “As far as I can see there has been little or no increase in the amount of international terrorism,” Dr. Mueller told me. But he expects the fears to continue for a long time, because he thinks that the images of Sept. 11 are so fixed in people’s minds that this availability cascade will persist. The best parallel to the current fear, he says, is the fear of Communist infiltration of America that started after World War II and continued even as membership in the American communist party plummeted. In a paper last year, he wrote:
Interestingly, however, even though the party itself essentially ceased to exist, even though there were no more dramatic, attention-arresting revelations like those of the Hiss and Rosenberg cases of the late 1940s and early 1950s, and even though press attention to the threat (if any) posed by domestic Communists accordingly nearly vanished, public concern about the danger posed by domestic Communism declined only gradually. [...]
Dr. Mueller expects a similar long run for terrorphobia:
Even if fears of terrorism do begin to decline, they can probably be very substantially rejiggered if a lone fanatical nut somewhere shoots up a bus, bank, or beauty salon while shouting “God is great!” The experience suggests, then, that we are hardly likely to relax any time soon. Eventually, fears of terrorism will perhaps begin to fade. But the experience with lingering concerns about the dangers supposedly presented by domestic Communism–internalized after dramatic first impressions–suggests it may be a long wait, perhaps one of decades.
That’s a depressing thought. It means (to quote the common phrase after Sept. 11) that “the terrorists will have won” even if they never pull off any larger attacks in the future. But is there any way to avoid decades of angst? Anything that could be done to counter the efforts of what Dr. Mueller calls the terrorism industry — the public officials and journalists and security corporations that spread fears of terrorism?
I am reminded of what Henry Kissinger said about how many in the US approach foreign policy..
[I]n America, there has been a tendency to divide foreign policy into two schools of thought. One that identifies foreign policy as a subdivision of psychiatry and another that treats foreign policy as a subdivision of theology.

The psychiatrists think relations among nations are like relations among people and you bring peace through this strenuous exercise of good will. The theologians believe that all foreign policies are a struggle between good and evil and the thing to do is to destroy the wrongdoer once and for all, after which normalcy returns.
 
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Things have been quiet here, but by some accounts there have been over 10000 Islamic terrorist attacks since 9/11 across the world. I don’t know if the amount of terrorism has increased or decreased since 9/11, but that is still a huge amount around the world, with over 150,000 people killed in 6 years as measured by news reports alone.

The ideology behind terrorism is still prevalent throughout the Islamic world, and that, at least, appears to be growing. Just think about Salman Rushdie or the Danish Cartoons, also consider the demographic shift happenning in europe, which is predicted to be an Islamic continent by the end of the century.

In the long term, I would argue, a healthy fear of Islamism is certainly warranted.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com
First, I think a more appropriate (contemporary) counter example of using fear to exact policy change is the hysteria employed by advocates of anthropogenic global warming.

Second, I think Tierney misunderstands what really motivates the majority of the anti-terror crowd. It is not a fear of, but an anger against those who use terror tactics for their myopic visions of greatness. Additionally, it is an anger against those amongst us who employ moral relativism to almost justify terror tactics. Sure root causes are important, but that does not absolve the people who kill just to make a statement of their crimes, and it sure as he!l does not mean that we shouldn’t be attempting to intercede those bent upon the use of terrorism against the US and it’s key interests.

Finally, I think Kissinger was being a bit simplistic in his demarcation. Certainly both the psychiatic and the ecclesiastic viewpoint are evident in foreign policy debates, but it ignores the larger middle meshing of both. In fact, I’d submit that both left and right view things more along the lines of understandable but evil. The difference is in degrees - or weighting - in which way should our efforts by concentrated.

A long way of saying I don’t find his question particularly interesting. The real culprit is the media, though not by design. Evocative stories sell, and it pays to make a story sound even more compelling. Everyone else just uses this manipulation to further their aims.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
But as John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University, points out in "Overblown," these predictions of terrorists causing mass destruction were made for much of the past century without any of them coming true.
Gosh, has it been that long since 911?
I submit that further terrorist attacks have not occurred precisely because of the "fear" of terrorism. We haven’t had a Madrid, Bali, London, or Beslan because we’ve been extra vigiland and extremely fortunate. I agree with Jimmy.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Criminy, Tom... you honestly don’t remember predictions of terrorists causing mass destruction prior to 9-11? The American public may not have had much feeling of imminence before then, but no, that isn’t when it all started.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Fear or Anger are a legitimate human reactions. These generate calls to action which are necessary and appropriate. Paranoia wan an ingredient to the Communist threat in the past and that distinction between healthy reactions and unhealthy ones.

I don’t see that here.

If you want to argue that the compromise in rights isn’t worth the security it brings, fine. But to pretend the threat isn’t there is a cheap way to try to win that argument.

The ability of Islamic Terrorists to project themselves outside of the Middle East has been hampered by a substantial effort on our part. AQ leadership used to be honored guests of government and openly ran training camps and benefited from a free flow of incoming funds. Now they hide in a hole in another country. Their money is better tracked and their camps make excellent target practice. To say this is not part of the reason why terrorism projected outside the Middle East has dwindled is just... dumb.

You often have a similar argument from critics of torture. Opponents say you don’t get any meaningful information from torture. That is a childish fantasy to avoid having to make the hard choice.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Themes...
In the long term, I would argue, a healthy fear of Islamism is certainly warranted.

it sure as he!l does not mean that we shouldn’t be attempting to intercede those bent upon the use of terrorism against the US and it’s key interests.

But to pretend the threat isn’t there is a cheap way to try to win that argument.
Nobody is suggesting there is no danger. There is. But there is also danger from militia/survivalist movements, the KKK and the Mafia.

The important question: Is our response appropriately proportional to the actual risk?

I tend to doubt that it is, for the same reason that I don’t think the government (especially in a democracy) is very good at cost/benefit calculations in other areas.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Black swans. Ignore them at your own risk.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
and I have to wonder if Mr Kissinger would have been for a negotiated settlement in 1943 instead of the demand for unconditional surrender. After all, we can’t use force to kill "evil" he claims.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
JPM100 said:
If you want to argue that the compromise in rights isn’t worth the security it brings, fine. But to pretend the threat isn’t there is a cheap way to try to win that argument.
I think Colin Powell put it pretty well:
Q: Isn’t the new global threat we face even more dangerous?

Powell: What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it’s terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?

I would approach this differently, in almost Marshall-like terms. What are the great opportunities out there—ones that we can take advantage of? It should not be just about creating alliances to deal with a guy in a cave in Pakistan. It should be about how do we create institutions that keep the world moving down a path of wealth creation, of increasing respect for human rights, creating democratic institutions, and increasing the efficiency and power of market economies? This is perhaps the most effective way to go after terrorists.
 
Written By: Jib Halyard
URL: http://
If 3000 deaths in one day on 9/11 is something to ignore, than 3000+ deaths over 5 years in Iraq is nothing.

Agree Jib?
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
And, of course, the definition of "terrorist attack" has been remarkably flexible.

Nutjob in an SUV deliberately runs over people on a college campus. Despite his own admission that it was done to attempt to kill infidels in the name of Islam, it isn’t terrorism, according to MSMers like Tierney.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://

 
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