I AM WITH Bruce Schneier
about "magical thinking", the term he uses to describe the knee-jerk American response to terrorism. You won't beat terrorists by "overreacting to every terrorist video, stoking fear, demonizing ethnic groups, and treating the terrorists as if they were legitimate military opponents who could actually destroy a country or a way of life." And yet, the United States response is so predictably theatrical. Schneier has said it several times before. "We'd do much better by leveraging the inherent strengths of our modern democracies and the natural advantages we have over the terrorists: our adaptability and survivability, our international network of laws and law enforcement, and the freedoms and liberties that make our society so enviable." I had these thoughts when I stood outside a Dame Street shop in Dublin, Ireland, on the afternoon of 9/11. I wondered if the American President and the Mayor of New York would have the courage to point out that an open society will always overpower the oppressiveness of a terrorist agenda. I agree with Schneier. "The best defenses against terrorism are largely invisible: investigation, intelligence, and emergency response. But even these are less effective at keeping us safe than our social and political policies, both at home and abroad. However, our elected leaders don't think this way: They are far more likely to implement security theater against movie-plot threats." And that's happened again during the Christmas 2009 holiday travel season.
-- "Is Aviation Security Mostly for Show?" on CNN, 29 Dec 09.