A False Sense of Insecurity?
There is something unseemly about breaking the risk of terrorism down into a numbers game, but when you have to make decisions about finite funds and resources there is no avoiding it. Having said that I think the author (pdf) has done a fine job pointing out both the cold mathematical facts as well as the softer yet arguably more dangerous threat we face from excessive hyperbole if not downright stupidity. I can be inelegant with the English language but the use of the quote “Be scared; be very, very scared – but get on with your lives” says a lot about the carelessness (or clueless-ness) of our alleged leadership; likewise the references to those who find boogey men with improbably weapons around every corner.
Terrorism is an extreme event so it is only natural that related discussions take on an extremist air, leaving no room for a measured and rational discussion. Are some of those engaged in these discussions fear-mongers or are they merely (over-) reacting to those who dismissively wave their hands at the thought of another terrorist attack? Does a guy who promulgates a reasoned approach stand a chance in a TV or radio studio with two screamers? Don’t put money on it.
What hope for the future then? A reading of Fallows in The Atlantic (thanks John) is a nice place to start and it meshes nicely with the idea that future big bangs are unlikely and that the “long war” is less “more WW II” than it is an extended period of mop-up operations, or perhaps more accurately what the fight against terrorism should have been pre-9/11: focused, coordinated, pro-active, and decisive.