Foreign wars to “root out Jihadists” are the biggest threat to America, and not Islamic terrorism, world-famous foreign affairs expert professor Stephen M. Walt has said.
Writing on his Foreign Policy blog, professor Walt referred to a new report by John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart called The Terrorism Delusion: America’s Overwrought Response to September 11, published in the latest issue of International Security.
“Mueller and Stewart analyze 50 cases of supposed ‘Islamic terrorist plots’ against the United States, and show how virtually all of the perpetrators were (in their words) ‘incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational and foolish.’” Professor Walt wrote.
“They quote former Glenn Carle, former deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats saying ‘we must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are,’ noting further that al Qaeda’s ‘capabilities are far inferior to its desires.’
“Further, Mueller and Stewart estimate that expenditures on domestic homeland security (i.e., not counting the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan) have increased by more than $1 trillion since 9/11, even though the annual risk of dying in a domestic terrorist attack is about 1 in 3.5 million.
“Using conservative assumptions and conventional risk-assessment methodology, they estimate that for these expenditures to be cost-effective ‘they would have had to deter, prevent, foil or protect against 333 very large attacks that would otherwise have been successful every year.’
“Finally, they worry that this exaggerated sense of danger has now been ‘internalized’: even when politicians and ‘terrorism experts’ aren’t hyping the danger, the public still sees the threat as large and imminent.
“As they conclude: … Americans seems to have internalized their anxiety about terrorism, and politicians and policymakers have come to believe that they can defy it only at their own peril. Concern about appearing to be soft on terrorism has replaced concern about seeming to be soft on communism, a phenomenon that lasted far longer than the dramatic that generated it … This extraordinarily exaggerated and essentially delusional response may prove to be perpetual.’
“Which is another way of saying that you should be prepared to keep standing in those pleasant and efficient TSA lines for the rest of your life, and to keep paying for far-flung foreign interventions designed to ‘root out’ those nasty jihadis.”
Illustration: Islamic would-be terrorist Jose Pimentel, arrested in New York City in November 2011 for plotting to bomb the city, shown in a FBI surveillance video clipping match heads to “make an explosive device.”