Defusing the fear of terror
By Dan Gardner
The Age May 3, 2008
The Canadian journalist and author Dan Gardner amasses a truckload of statistics to make his case that the “fear of terror” cannot be grounded on reality. He uses accidentally caused fatalities such as people suffocated in bed, electrocuted, drowned in swimming pools, and killed by the police, all of them in bigger numbers than those killed by terrorists per annum, to “trump” the deliberate fatalities caused by terror. Further, in a farcical twist to boost his argument, Gardner provides statistics that show that by most accounts a nuclear detonation in an urban area would kill up to 100,000 people and says that this “death toll … is not much more than the number of Americans killed each year by diabetes”. He ends his article by saying that “in terms of numbers of lives lost, a nuclear terrorist attack would hardly be the apocalypse”.
Gardner completely disregards the distinction between fatalities caused by accident or by disease that are relative to the size of populations and their movements and can be scientifically measured and calculated, and of fatalities arising from the deliberate actions of terrorists that are absolute and are related only to the malice and fanaticism, which are immeasurable and unfathomable, of the holy warriors of Islam. Hence the only thing that obviates the surpassing of the numbers of people killed by accident by those killed by terrorists is the up till now inability of the latter to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and nuclear ones. Once however they acquire them they will use them with glee against the infidels of the West and the Great Satan America in an everlasting serial apocalyptic mode and hence fulfill the orders of their God.
Our author further claims that “building a nuclear device…presents Herculean challenges for terrorists and indeed even for states”. But this claim might be tenable only in the present state of technological development and the contemporaneous possibilities that run parallel to such development. But with the ever accelerating technology of our times new possibilities are unleashed at an exponential rate. What is a challenge today becomes a fulfilled goal tomorrow. And since Gardner correctly states that “probability is always important in dealing with risks”, a responsible government has to calculate the probability of how close the terrorist are to this “tomorrow”.
Western governments with historical insight, depth in sagacity, and unshakable resolution have to prevent by all means at their disposal the fanatical suicidal warriors of Islam to let fly a “confetti” of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear bombs over the metropolises of the civilized world. No “diabetic” bombs can even approach, least of all surpass, the magnitude of such confetti of destruction. But Dan Gardner does not “know thy enemy”.