Our national security leaders are afraid because we’re not.

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.

Islam = terror

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).

Gallup poll about terrorism as of Feb 2015.

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

See Clapper’s congressional testimony (note the government provides these as images, not searchable text). See all posts about terrorism. Some of special interest:

  1. Well-funded organizations inciting us to hate & fear, again. How gullible are we?
  2. We’re goading our enemies to attack America. Eventually we’ll succeed, and they will.
  3. What’s in a terrorist’s name? A step to understanding the Islamic State.

A closing nod to the great power in America

Department of Fear

7 thoughts on “Our national security leaders are afraid because we’re not.”

  1. I am disturbed that recent polls claim that a majority (60% or so) of Americans want to send troops to fight ISIS. I an curious as to how how the questions were phrased.
    For example would they be willing to send their sons and daughter?
    Would they be willing to pay higher taxes to finance such a war?

  2. “They consider us foes because we’re in their nations fighting them.”
    For some reason, this sentence is completely and utterly incomprehensible to most of the American people and all of the American government.

    By the same logic, Americans are the bad guys in this movie: Red Dawn.

    I guess looking in the mirror is too much to ask.

    1. Todd,

      “For some reason…”

      Because we believe what we’re told. That was the key tool of govt in 1984, the core of Winston’s re-orientation — to believe whatever he was told by the Party.

      I don’t understand why “by the same logic Americans are the bad guys in {“Red Dawn”}. By what logic?

    2. If you want to have an idea of how the USA are apprehended in foreign countries, then you had better look at foreign movies. This one, for instance: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493264

      It shows the USA definitely as (one of) the _very_ bad guys. And it is a movie made in Turkey — a NATO ally. It is not a great movie at all, but I do not regret having seen it — it is a surprising mirror image of our Western perspective. To give you the idea, US officers, soldiers and intelligence personnel play a role comparable to German officers, soldiers and Gestapo-men in those WWII films shot in the 1960s or 1970s. Turks are, of course, the good, courageous, honor-bounded freedom fighters, Kurds duplicitous guys, Arabs hapless third fiddles overwhelmed by events.

      1. guest,

        Thanks for that info! Sad to say, I never thought about that — how the USA appears in foreign movies (other than British ones). Now that you’ve pointed it out, I wonder why there’s not more written about this. How is the US seen in, for example, “Bollywood” productions?

    3. An analysis of “how are the USA seen in foreign movies” would be a thoroughly interesting read — perhaps it even exists already, this looks like the kind of academic work carried out in a cinema or sociology department at a University.

      Bollywood? No idea, I saw very, very few Bollywood movies, but it seems that if foreigners play a central role, they are Pakistanis — or Brits, for historical films.

      I just remembered this other one: “Flu” (South Korea, 2013). A standard catastrophe movie, with very good production values, about a sneaky super-virus turning Seoul into a pandemonium — well done, entertaining, nothing great (with the typical dose of Korean saccharine). The relevant part is that, at some point, the local American military sends all its air force to incinerate mercilessly the contaminated part of the city that has been cordoned off — against the explicit decision of the South Korean president who wants (spoiler alert) to find possibly antibody-carrying characters who might save the world from the virus.

      A couple of movies do not make a statistic, but it is nevertheless interesting to see that blockbuster, commercial movies (i.e. not some left-wing arthouse production) shot in countries that are very close allies do not hesitate to portray the USA not as helpful friends, but as soulless brutes ready to slaughter people in cold blood.

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