No Impact to terrorism ---
(John, “Is There Still a Terrorist Threat?” FOREIGN AFFAIRS v. 85 n. 5,
But while keeping such potential dangers in mind,
it is worth remembering that the total number of people kille
since 9/11 by al Qaeda or al Qaeda_like operatives outside of Afghanistan and Iraq
is not much higher than the number who
drown in bathtubs
in the United States in a single year, and that
chance of an American being killed by
international terrorism is
one in 80,000
the same chance of being killed by a comet
meteor. Even if there were a 9/11-scale attack every three months for the next five years, the likelihood that an individual American would number
among the dead would be two hundredths of a percent (or one in 5,000). Although it remains heretical to say so,
fears of the omnipotent terrorist
-- reminiscent of those inspired by images of the 20-foot-tall Japanese after
Pearl Harbor or the 20-foot-tall Communists at various points in the Cold War (particularly after Sputnik) -- may
have been overblown,
the threat presented
within the United States
by al Qaeda greatly exaggerated
. The massive and expensive homeland
security apparatus erected since 9/11 may be persecuting some, spying on many, inconveniencing most, and taxing all to defend the United States
against an enemy that scarcely exists.
No incentive to inflict mass death and it’s easy getting caught
(Ehud, “The Great Superterrorism Scare”, Foreign Policy, September 28,
There is, however, a problem with this two-part logic. Although the capabilities proposition is largely valid--albeit for the limited number of terrorists
who can overcome production and handling risks and develop an efficient means of dispersal--the chaos proposition is utterly false.
rhetoric, a massive terrorist attack with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons is
inevitable. It is
. Thirty years of field research have taught observers of terrorism a most important lesson: Terrorists wish to
convince us that they are capable of striking from anywhere at anytime, but there really is no chaos. In fact, terrorism involves predictable behavior,
and the vast majority of terrorist organizations can be identified well in advance.
terrorists possess political objectives
whether Basque independence, Kashmiri separatism, or Palestinian Marxism.
Neither crazy nor stupid
, they strive to gain sympathy
from a large audience and wish to live after carrying out any terrorist act to benefit from it politically. As
Jenkins has remarked, terrorists want lots of people watching, not lots of people dead.
Furthermore, no terrorist becomes a terrorist overnight. A lengthy trajectory of radicalization and low-level violence precedes the killing of civilians.