Ze Frank on How to Combat Terrorism

11Aug06

Ze Frank has some of the best criticism I’ve read on yesterday’s spoiled terrorist plot. Here’s his podcast.

Here’s an excerpt:

Now, the way I see it, you can’t have terrorism without terror. The strategy of terrorism is to use isolated acts of violence to instill fear and confusion into the population at large. A small number of people can incapacitate a society by leveraging our inability to understand risk.

Airline industry stocks plummetted today, while the industry braced for a rash of cancellations. This, despite the fact that even with the risk of airplane bombings it’s still more dangerous to drive your car. Or smoke cigarettes.

As long as a small group of people can inflict mass panic across a large population, the tactic itself will remain viable. One way to deal a blow to the effectiveness of terrorism is to deal with the terror itself.

London’s police deputy commissioner Paul Stevenson said that the plot was “intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.” No, it is imaginable: between three and ten flights out of thousands would have resulted in the terrible loss of human life.

Bush today said this country is safer today than it was prior to 9/11. Personally, I don’t think he knows. Whether we like it or not, terrorist attacks on Americans are now part of the global reality. They will continue to happen. Many places around the globe have had to deal with a similar reality for years. India, Ireland, England, Spain, Russia, to name a few. In many cases, these societies have pulled together and not allowed isolated acts of violence to tear at their fiber. Like disease and the forces of nature, it’s a risk that we have to rationally come to terms with. The government’s responsibility is to make sure that fear and terror are not disproportionate to the reality of the situation.

The “war on terrorism” has no end in sight. Can democratic reform in the Middle East remove the threat of militant Islamic fundamentalism? Perhaps. But the bottle’s permanently uncorked. Those same technologies that fuel industrial and social progress also allows individuals to cause massive death; each year those technologies only get more potent and more accessible.

Terrorist attacks are here to stay. We can only choose how we react to them. If we respond with resolve and intelligence instead of fear and hysteria, we can sterilize terrorists’ weapons’ poisoned edge.

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One Response to “Ze Frank on How to Combat Terrorism”

  1. 1 Kim

    I agree with Ze Frank. And what’s happened in America is just a papercut compaired to the terrorism that’s been occuring in other countries for years. Were we so proud to think it’d never happen here?


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