Sunday, March 9, 2008

Yesterday At No Quarter

At his blog No Quarter, Larry Johnson writes:

Now we face terrorism. Since [1990?] less than 10,000 Americans have died in terrorist attacks around the world. Got that? Less than 10,000. No terrorist organization on the face of the earth has an air force, naval fleet, submarine fleet, or armed force capable of striking the United States with anything even approximating 10% of the Soviet capability in their hey day. No terrorist force on the face of the earth has a nuclear arsenal ready to be launched at a moments notice that would destroy all major U.S. cities.

So what in the hell is Michael Scheuer and other fear mongers doing? They are making shit up and using fear as a bludgeon to convince Americans that we should surrender our honor and lose our humanity. I believe terrorism is a threat. And I believe folks like Bin Laden, if left to their own devices would try to do us harm again and would not hesitate to use a nuclear weapon. But that fact does not justify torture. Our fear should not be used as an excuse to act like the tyrants that our nation fought during and after World War Two.

Terrorist Fear Mongering and Torture

I'm guessing about the 1990 date, obviously. It's certainly true that no more than that many have died in that time. In contrast, around 18,000 Americans die each year of inadequate health care, according to the American Medical Association (PDF). In 2005, approximately 113,000 Americans died due to accidental injuries such as automobile accidents, according to the National Safety Council. Similar numbers of Americans die due to the medical effects of cigarette smoking.

Yet we continue to treat terrorism as though it were a mortal danger to our country. It is, at worst, a problem. What's worse, it's a problem that requires cooperation and support from other countries. Blatantly advocating the use of torture is the last thing that will gain us such cooperation, and it is useless for obtaining reliable information (PDF - pg. 225). There may be no more obvious sign of how low we've sunk as a society than the open advocacy of torture that I see every time this question comes up. Stupidity and cruelty aren't a desirable combination, yet they are the traits we seem to be most eager to show the rest of the world these days.

It's long past time that we declare such talk for what it is.


Anonymous said...

You don't get it do you. Mike outlines the threat facing the country. Thease bastards want to kill us and impose shira law on the United States thats it son.

I've spent the past 27 years fighting terrorists for our country. THe big problem is our politicans do not have the will to level with the american People.

Eli said...

I'm kinda thinking that that 10,000 number might actually be since 1776. I have a hard time believing that 10,000 Americans have been killed by terrorists over any timespan.

Cujo359 said...

Yes, Eli, I wouldn't be surprised if that's what he meant, but depending how loosely you define terrorism, the 1776 thing may or may not be true. There was quite a bit of small scale violence between revolutionaries and loyalists back then, and not all of it was military. We can certainly count all the incidents of terrorism on American soil since 1990, and there have been very few.

Cujo359 said...

Amazing how many anonymous terrorism fighters show up at articles like this. No, I don't get how people with no real power are going to destroy us, however much they might wish to do it. That's because it's not going to happen unless we destroy ourselves. Mike's either a coward, a fool, or he's found a schtick that will net other cowards and fools.

If by "level with the American people" you mean try to scare the shit out of us by claiming that those terrorists are out to kill our families, you haven't been listening to Bush's speeches lately. What planet have you been living on lately? They want us scared, and you're doing a fine job of being scared. Why don't you wake up and realize what makes this country worth living in, instead of trying to destroy it so that you and a few other fools can feel safer?

Freedom has its risks, but it also has its rewards. One of the rewards is being able to understand what we should really be concerned about, and what is less of a concern. Thanks to being free, I'm able to inform myself about the world, and about the relative risks of our policies and events outside our control. I can apply reasoning and skepticism to what I'm told. I'll take that over anonymous appeals to authority and "they want to kill your family" any day of the week.

Considering that you can't even spell sharia (phonetically or otherwise), I'm willing to bet you're not terribly well informed about your enemy.