Fear Itself

On Saturday, I wrote:

I’ll just make the point that a terrorist attack that arrested the world for over 60 hours resulted in the death of just 162 people (as of now).  Now, I hardly wish to seem insensitive — the attacks were unquestionably tragic for many people — but the fact remains that this is a reminder that international terrorism is more constructively viewed as a small, dangerous, and malign force, but not as an existential threat to civilization…This is not to suggest that combating international terrorism is not a national security imperative, but simply couching the issue as an imminent threat to civilization itself (the “War on Terror”) is an unproductive framework that leads to bad policy making.

Andrew Sullivan — who, ahem, receives in the neighborhood of 30 million pages views a month — points to a few folks who agree. It’s worth noting I think, that this idea is not applicable only to India. That is, contra one of George Bush’s favored aphorisms, 9/11 didn’t fundamentally change the world. Rather, the United States and other countries along for the ride have shifted how they interpret the world so as to totally defenestrate rationality and perspective in favor of sensationalism and a sort of generational narcissism. It’s a tremendously overused cliche, but there really isn’t much to fear but fear itself; the fear that brought us Iraq, the fear that elected George Bush for a second term, and the fear that has led to the abandonment of principle.  Simply put, terrorists don’t have the power or resources to destroy America, only we can do that.

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