Summary: Our national security leaders have declared code red about terrorism. The data shows that their fears are justified. Here we see the one chart that chills their hearts, and rightly so.
Today’s reporting from Oz by the Washington Post: “In campaign against terrorism, U.S. enters period of pessimism and gloom“.
The assessments reflect a pessimism that has descended on the U.S. counterterrorism community over the past year amid a series of discouraging developments. Among them are the growth of the Islamic State, the ongoing influx of foreign fighters into Syria, the collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Yemen and the downward spiral of Libya’s security situation. The latest complication came Saturday, when the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria carried out a series of suicide bombings and reportedly declared its allegiance to the Islamic State.
Unlike the waves of anxiety that accompanied the emergence of new terrorist plots over the past decade, the latest shift in mood seems more deep-seated. U.S. officials depict a bewildering landscape in which al-Qaeda and the brand of Islamist militancy it inspired have not only survived 14 years of intense counterterrorism operations but have also spread.
This is quite mad. First, the “Islamic militancy” has spread because of our “14 years of intense counterterrorism operations”, not despite it. We enter as infidel foreigners, knock down secular regimes, creating chaos in which Islamic fundamentalists thrive. Afghanistan (early 1980s), Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and now Syria were all relatively secular-based regimes. Only the most powerful mental blinders prevent Americans from seeing this.
Second, these “foes” are focused on overthrowing local regimes — most of which are corrupt and oppressive (that doesn’t mean the insurgents are angels, or even better than the incumbants). They consider us foes because we’re in their nations fighting them.
Third, there is an obvious reason for despair of America’s national security leaders. After two decades of fear-mongering the US public has begun to see through their propaganda. Gallup shows numbers that strike fear into the hearts of these fear merchants: a collapse in the fraction of Americans wetting their pants in fear of terrorism (news of FBI-manufactured plots and overseas terrorism no longer works).
Updated with Feb 2015 numbers: Look at the tiny uptick in 2015. Imagine their despair at such a tiny return on a year of continuous fear-barrages on us about ISIS. In their pursuit of ever-growing budgets and powers, we are their foes.
For More Information
- Well-funded organizations inciting us to hate & fear, again. How gullible are we?
- We’re goading our enemies to attack America. Eventually we’ll succeed, and they will.
- What’s in a terrorist’s name? A step to understanding the Islamic State.