The Hidden Costs of Terrorism

Dec. 22 2016

Responding to those who argue that concerns over terrorism are overblown—one philosopher pointed out that, on September 11, 2001, an estimated 30,000 children across the globe died of hunger—Spencer Case writes:

Fatality statistics, first of all, don’t account for the possibility of unprecedented terror events. We may yet witness attacks in which terrorists poison the water supply of a major city, detonate a nuclear bomb, or release a weaponized pathogen at an international airport. A cyberattack on the electric grid could cause power outages that last for months and span several states. Affected areas would immediately be plunged into a total breakdown of civil order and could suffer from mass starvation within days. . . .

[But numbers alone] fail to reflect the broader costs of terrorism. . . . Chess master Aron Nimzowitsch famously said, “The threat is stronger than the execution.” Terrorists use literal executions as a means to generate an atmosphere of perpetual threat. . . . In 2013, Islamists in Bangladesh circulated a “hit list” with the names of 84 people whom they found troublesome. As of this writing, nine of those people are dead, as are dozens of others, due to grisly terrorist attacks in which victims were often dispatched with machetes. Soon after the targeted killing commenced, Ananya Azad, a blogger on the list, quit his job as a columnist, stopped blogging, and now rarely goes outdoors. (His father, litterateur Humayun Azad, had been gravely wounded in a 2003 machete attack). Doubtless many others whose names we don’t know are being intimidated into silence. . . .

The shadow of fear extends into the Western world, too. Behold how our leaders reacted with panic in 2011, when the Florida pastor Terry Jones proposed to burn a copy of the Quran. (He eventually did so, and violence predictably erupted.) Or the fact that the cartoonist Molly Norris has been in hiding for five years, at the FBI’s recommendation, because she suggested that there be an “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” . . .

And then there are the economic consequences of terrorism. The New York Times estimated [that] $55 billion worth of physical damage and an additional $123 billion in economic damage to various industries [were] caused by 9/11.

Read more at National Review

More about: Bangladesh, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism

How the White House Can Bring Mahmoud Abbas to the Negotiating Table

April 28 2017

Next month, the Palestinian Authority president is expected to arrive in Washington to meet with President Trump, perhaps as a prelude to a summit between Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu under American auspices. A Palestinian delegation is currently in the U.S. to conduct preliminary meetings with administration officials. Eran Lerman discusses what can be accomplished:

The most important aspect [in the present discussions] may remain unspoken. It can be defined as “strategic reassurance”: the realization that after years of uncertainty under Barack Obama, the American administration . . . is once again committed without reservation to its friends in the region, the so-called “camp of stability.”

President Obama’s abandonment of [the former Egyptian president], Hosni Mubarak, regardless of the merits of the case, was catastrophic in terms of the loss of any residual political courage on Abbas’s part. Obama was sympathetic to the Palestinians’ cause, but his policies generated an acute level of uncertainty for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, laced with what seemed like a measure of support on Obama’s part for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. This was not an environment in which to take fateful decisions.

The Trump team seems to be working to restore confidence and reconstruct [alliances with] both Israel and the pro-Western Arab states. In this new environment, it could be safer for Abbas to take measured risks and enter into an open-ended negotiation with Netanyahu. The effort may still fall apart, if only because the Palestinians have fallen into the habit of posing preconditions. But there seems to be a better chance of drawing them in when they feel that their traditional patrons in the Arab world, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are once again basking in the sunshine of American strategic support. . . .

At least in theory, it should therefore be easier now for . . . the White House to persuade Abbas to accept a point of entry into negotiations that stays within the two-state paradigm but is no longer predicated on strict adherence to the June 4, 1967 lines.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Donald Trump, Hosni Mubarak, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, U.S. Foreign policy