Does This Mean Iraq Isn't a Quagmire after All?
Much of the current alarm is generated from the knowledge that many of today's terrorists simply want to kill, and kill more or less randomly, for revenge or as an act of what they take to be The shock and tragedy of September 11 does demand a focused and dedicated program to confront international terrorism and to attempt to prevent a repeat. But it seems sensible to suggest that part of this reaction should include an effort by politicians, officials, and the media to inform the public reasonably and realistically about the terrorist context instead of playing into the hands of terrorists by frightening the public. What is needed, as one statistician suggests, is some sort of convincing, coherent, informed, and nuanced answer to a central question: "How worried should I be?" Instead, the message the nation has received so far is, as a Homeland Security official put (or caricatured) it, "Be scared; be very, very scared -- but go on with your lives." Such messages have led many people to develop what Leif Wenar of the University of Sheffield has aptly labeled "a false sense of insecurity."We can apply similar reasoning to whether the United States (or even the local inhabitants) should be terrorized into giving up on Iraq. After all, Baghdad is safer than cities that aren't considered to be quagmires (seen via Brothers Judd).
Maybe we can sponsor a debate between the Cato Institute and these guys.