Is There a Terrorism Problem?

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg   By Bob Shapiro

Few activities have as far reaching economic impact as war. And, while war can be carried out in several ways, few can be more devastating to the well being of a people as terrorism. This post will explore terrorism, and so I apologize in advance for the downbeat tone.

In today’s world, acts of terrorism are spread so widely, that it is possible for the various acts to be either

  • completely separate,
  • several pockets of individual groups’ attacks, or
  • largely instigated by a single central authority or philosophy.

While most people would consider terrorism as being made up only of violent, planned activity, this need not be the case.

Certainly, the recent bombing of a magazine office in Paris, the July 7, 2005 Triple Underground Train bombings in London, or the 9/11 World Trade Center attack in NYC qualify as violent. And, there are HUNDREDS of other violent attacks each year that get little coverage outside the local media which also qualify as terrorism.

World Trade Center

But, there are other ways to take down a society or a culture which, while not being overtly violent, can be just as effective. For example, part of the CIA’s way of operating in foreign countries is to have operatives attain positions of trust and influence in the local government. These agents both can gain secret information and can misdirect local government policy.

Undoubtedly, other countries have similar agents within potential or actual enemies’ governments (think MI6 and the old KGB). Policy mistakes can work to destroy a country every bit as much (or more) as violent attacks. Of course, bad policies are not necessarily the result of foreign subversion, but how can you tell?

Consider the anti-energy agenda of the greens and democrats. Or, the proposed rise in the Minimum Wage. Or, the anti-gun movement. Or, the FED’s manipulation of the credit and stock markets. Or, the huge overspending and country destroying Deficits and National Debt. Or, the almost complete support of the major media for the liberal agenda.


Are these caused even in part by foreigners intent on destroying the US? It would seem outlandishly unlikely, but there’s no way to know. Can all these things be due just to stupidity? Again, there’s no way to know.

Much of the heavy load of emails I receive is about the worldwide threat of Islam. Many of these writers say that, in addition to being a religion, it also is a political philosophy which is irretrievably against the western way of life. They consider that the 2.5 to 7 million Muslims in the US are a threat. That all seems unlikely to me. But, there’s no way to know until after the fact.

As I look at the various terrorist attacks around the world, and at the unbelievably stupid policies carried out by many western governments, it does make me consider various possibilities for future terrorist acts. One realization I’ve come to is that it wouldn’t take that many agents to create real chaos!

Consider New York City, or more narrowly Manhattan Island. It’s a financial and commercial hub, where millions of people leave their bedroom communities in New Jersey, Connecticut, and on Long Island, to gather 5 days a week to make their living. People enter and leave the island by about 40 bridges and tunnels (including trains). Water comes from outside. Electricity can come from outside, but mostly depends on imported fuels.

All it would take is a few hundred terrorist agents, targeting 60 or so connections between Manhattan and the outside world, to cripple it. Without the massive amounts of food, energy, water, and other essentials, it would take a few days at most for conditions to descend into disaster.

I expect that there are hundreds of targets worldwide for massive terrorist acts. What concerns me most is that, as far as my untrained eye can see, there is no way to stop these kinds of attacks. Within the US, we depend on free movement of people, goods, and ideas to allow us to have a modern standard of living.


We have a government which has removed any restriction on our borders. Are many (most?) illegal aliens just coming to the US seeking a better life. Yes, of course. Could some of the millions of illegal aliens, or some of the millions of Muslims in the US, be of a mind to do the US real harm? Yes, of course.

Q: So, what do we do?

A: I haven’t a clue!

I have recognized that not everyone around the world thinks the way I do. I understand that, for reasons that don’t make sense to me, some people want to kill or enslave me. I believe it’s a low-probability threat, but at this scale, any threat above zero probability concerns me.

I know that at some point, a huge asteroid will hit Earth – again (different asteroid) – and I can’t control it. At some point, we’ll go back into another Ice Age (probably nothing I can do about it other than buy property in Panama).

So, I go about my daily business, giving virtually zero weight in my decisions. I can’t plan for what I can’t plan for.

But, somewhere in the back of my mind, I’d like to hear a (non-crazy) solution to address the kind of terrorist threat I’ve brought up.

15 thoughts on “Is There a Terrorism Problem?

  1. For the many Americans who otherwise have given up hope, yes that could help. But, I fear that, for the significant if tiny minority of Islamic terrorists, they don’t think the way we (or the Northern Irish) do. How do you reason with someone who’s a lunatic?


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