Some Hard Truths about Terrorism (and Anti-Terrorism Policy)
Rosa Brooks, writing at Foreign Policy offers some truth on the issue of terrorism: The Threat Is Already Inside (And 9 other truths about terrorism that nobody wants to hear.)
The while thing is worth readings, but here are some excerpts:
Occasional terrorist attacks in the West are virtually inevitable, and odds are, we’ll see more attacks in the coming decades, not fewer. If we want to reduce the long-term risk of terrorism — and reduce its ability to twist Western societies into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves — we need to stop viewing terrorism as shocking and aberrational, and instead recognize it as ongoing problem to be managed, rather than “defeated.”
Fourteen years after 9/11, we still have astonishingly little empirical evidence about which counterterrorism techniques are effective and which aren’t. In large part, this is because governments haven’t made it a priority to fund or conduct evidence-based counterterrorism research. This needs to change.
The cheapest and easiest way to reduce the benefits of terrorism is to stop overreacting. That 129 people were killed in the Paris attacks is a terrible tragedy and a vicious crime, but 16,000 people in the United States are murdered each year in “ordinary” homicides, 30,000 die in accidental falls, 34,000 die in car crashes, and 39,000 die of accidental poisoning. We should mourn each and every death, and we should take all reasonable steps to prevent more deaths from occurring and punish those responsible for intentionally inflicting harm.
But we need to stop viewing terrorism as unique and aberrational. The more we panic and posture and overreact, the more terrorism we’ll get.
As she also notes in the piece, we can no more win a war against terrorism than we can against poverty or crime. So while this does not mean we just sit back and take it, it does mean that reality is what is and there is no way to make the world terrorism free. More importantly: a lot of what we do in the face of terrorism (like the current freak-out over refugees, among other reactions) actually can have the effect of incentivizing more terrorism. For terrorism to truly work, there has to be a massive over-reaction.