Via Glennzilla, this:
“The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It’s basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year,” said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism.
I bet if you compared how much we spend on terrorism per yer per death and calculated how much we would need to spend to have the same per capita ration for cancer deaths, it would be hundreds of trillions. But then again, with us all afraid, we don’t notice the erosion of our rights and liberties. So we got that going for us.
We could pay for everyone to go to college for free with that money. We could pay for free healthcare for all with that money.
To me, this isn’t an argument against the War on Terrorism as much as it is an argument for a War on Bathtubs. (Or perhaps a War on Drowning. I’m still figuring it out).
humans dig war. gives them boners. they like boners.
We could, but that would be soshulism.
@Stefan: Yeah, I know. I need to move to Denmark.
OK, but how many deaths would there be if we weren’t spending all that money?
Why isn’t the small number of terrorism deaths an argument in favor of spending?
Villago Delenda Est
Every dollar spent on tanks, jet fighters, and destroyers is a dollar’s worth of food, clothing, medical care, and housing taken away from ordinary people.
Our elites have no problem with this. At all.
@Mike Goetz: So if we spend even more money would there be even less deaths?
1) The Military Industrial Complex still exists;
2) The Soviet Union doesn’t.
There had to be an enemy that can’t be defeated; it’s rather “brilliant” in it’s own diabolical way.
Yeah, pretty much. Anti-terrorism spending is designed to produce a low number of terrorism deaths. That’s the whole point of it.
Villago Delenda Est
Cause and effect, how does it work?
A hundred billion a year on a pit in the desert? Worth it! Because we’re protecting human lives.
A hundred million for Hurricane Irene cleanup? FUCK YOU, THAT’S SOCIALISM!
Law of diminishing returns. The main thing is there is should be a threshold of where we can have an ideal minimum of deaths for dollars spent.
Keeping boxcutters off planes? Cheap and helps prevent terrorists.
Spending billions on warplanes? Expensive and doesn’t do much to prevent terrorists.
A hundred billion a year on a pit in the desert? Worth it! Because we’re protecting human lives.
A hundred million for Hurricane Irene cleanup? FUCK YOU, THAT’S SOCI ALISM!
So you think if we weren’t in Iraq and Afghanistan that there’d be crazed Muslims killing in us in our beds? Or at least more than there are now?
Personally, I’d rather see all that money go to figuring out the last step they need to cure multiple myeloma. They’re really close. Cousin of mine was just diagnosed and survival with the treatment they’ve come up with in the last 10 years has gone from basically 0 to about 5 years. Course the medication costs $3000 a month, most of which is not covered by insurance, so the cuz is trying not to beg friends and family to come up with the shortfall and trying to figure out how she can work more to get the money even though she’s not feeling so great. But, hey, you wanna spend money making sure there aren’t any dirty Mooslins under her bed, you just carry on, soldier.
I agree with the general idea that we overspend on security and underspend on public health. But IMHO, trying to measure the benefits of security by pointing to the number of terrorists killed is facile and not helpful.
OT but I’m confused by a CNN article:
Obama’a Uncle Arrested
Throughout the article he is referred to as Onyango Obama, then in this paragraph they refer to him as:
“According to a statement from Framingham police, an officer in an unmarked police cruiser stopped Onyango Obango just after 7 p.m. after a sport utility vehicle he was driving failed to make a proper stop at an intersection.” (emphasis mine)
I did a search for his name but couldn’t find any reference to a Mr. Obango.
So, unclear typo by CNN or am I misreading it?
Villago Delenda Est
Forget it, Corner Stone. It’s CNN.
Glenzilla posts this now? The numbers have been essentially the same for the last 10 years (The 9/11 deaths pale before the annual number of deaths from influenza each year). But now it’s a waste of money…
@Mike Goetz: Maybe if we weren’t there at all we could save lives and trillions of dollars.
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
Most people figure you have to be pretty stupid to drown in a bathtub, so they figure that will never happen to them. With car accidents, despite the high probability it will kill you, most people think it won’t. They feel like they have control. With terrorism, you have no control. Thus, the crazy freak out over it.
Absolutely. I remember when John Kerry was jumped all over for saying our goal should be reducing terrorism to a “nuisance”. I support enough spending to get to that level (which we have, outside of warzones) and then getting rid of the warzones that are such a big part of the problem.
All I’m saying is that making fun of the amount spent on anti-terrorism by pointing to the low number of terrorism deaths misses the point.
Terror is a shortcut to cash and power for many: US has wasted $30bn on Iraq and Afghanistan contracts, report finds. No real surprise that it’s currently so popular. And it sells newspapers and coffee-table books or did, for ever so long.
@Mike Goetz: If we never went into the middle east after 9/11 and just beefed up our national security, then I agree with you. If we had done that we wouldn’t have had this extreme cost to lives and our budget.
OK, but how many deaths would there be if we weren’t spending all that money? Why isn’t the small number of terrorism deaths an argument in favor of spending?
Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That’s spacious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn’t work.
Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.
Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you? [Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
Indeed, it’s really no different than the wingnut saying “The damage and death toll from Irene wasn’t very high, so we don’t need federal weather prediction and disaster preparation.” Or crime rates are low, therefore we don’t need cops.
It seems like the real question should be, on the margin, if we slashed the defense budget by $200 billion a year (pick your favorite number)for the next ten years, how many more (or less?) people would die from terrorist-related activities.
@TheF79: a lot less. because islamic terrorism is a RESPONSE to western interventionism.
Like the Alliance in Serenity, American meddling just turned the ME into one big reaver factory.
We built the reavers.
Just like Viet Nam….in another twenty…or thirty years…if America still has the Power, we will swing back to thinking we can push our culture on people that dont want it….because its “better” for them.
Unless Julian’s NL-system killer succeeds.
Can’t we just drown terror in a bathtub, Norquist style?
I agree with much of your point. I never supported the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq since they had nothing to do with terrorism. Going after actual terror networks is something I have no problem with. I am sure we could do that as effectively with a lot less money than we do now. But to call it a “racket” without any specifics seems extreme.
Bill E Pilgrim
Which would make the slightest sense as a rebuttal to this post or Greenwald’s article had that been what either was about, rather than how many American civilians were killed by terrorists.
Of course, in response to the actual point of the article, the war on terror hawks always have the old “Why am I snapping my fingers once a minute? To keep the elephants away!” joke rationalization, i.e. that all of these billions and restructuring of our society and tossing civil liberties as if they were some fashion trend we now find quaint and outdated are why so few Americans are killed by terrorists, but I find that about as convincing in its correlation-equals-causation fallacy as I do the guy snapping his fingers in the joke.
Chomksy had a piece right after 9/11 that predicted all of this, laid it out in fairly painful detail, and of course was harshly criticized even from “the left” at the time, and I’m sorry I don’t have a link but somewhere in there he described a quotation someone had from what was just then becoming known as Al Quaeda saying basically that all they had to do now was take a little clump of guys, go running off and say “boo” somewhere, and they can get America spending billions and chasing their tails for decades. In other words while 9/11 was quite a blow, no doubt about, they didn’t have to do anything like that afterwards because the Americans would sell themselves the rope to strangle themselves with, to paraphrase an older phrase.
In other words, at the risk of a Friedmaneqse scrambling of metaphors: There are no elephants within miles of here, and yet we remain tied to the mast.
PS: I see that even people here are using the elephant reasoning. Why am I not surprised? PPS: I see that others have beat me to a bunch of the rest of my response. Bravo.
Who’s afraid? Who? I don’t see much fear, just a lot of fearmongering.
And which rights are being eroded that regular people, not the professional rights junkies like Greenwald, are concerned about? Here, I think there are real issues, but I don’t notice many politicians, not even the supposedly anti-gummit Tea Party People, getting too exercised about it. Mostly, I see cranks getting their fee fees hurt because some security goon touched them at the airport.
There is a especially cringeworthy hypocrisy dance here:
Many Balloon Juicers regularly snark and mock human rights violations in other countries, when they bother to pay any attention at all, so I don’t get the impression that Greenwald and his ilk care about rights anywhere other than in the US. It is typical Greenwald bullshit that he is more interested in playing games of pots and kettles than he is in dealing with issues of human rights. But then again, he can get away with crap like this, since he is in a privileged position.
And the British government is just one of many that has been pounding on Blackberry and other companies to provide them with backdoors to make it easier to get private data. And I don’t know if Greenwald has done much on the degree to which many in the tech community have absolutely no problem with making it easier for the government to snoop on people.
And there is this:
Clutch the fuckin’ pearls.
He has a point, a great one, when he talks about the huge amount of money thrown down a security rat hole.
But if you honestly believe that somebody trying to kill you is exactly the same as somebody slipping in the bathtub, then here is a simple thing that you can do: abolish the police force in your neighborhood. Seriously. Come on, you can do it. I’ll bet that the murder rate in your community is pretty low. And think how all that money could be better used.
You people that call this a waste of money need to cut out that America hatin’ talk lickety-split! The Republicans have been misunderstood by us. They are in favor of deficit spending, priming the economy’s pump, etc. They just prefer to do it through the means of spreading the wealth through the efficient means of the military’s contracting and procurement system! There’s a good reason that 50 different sized ball bearings needed for a plane are made in 50 different states…
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
I know what he’s trying to get at, but wouldn’t that be like calculating the rate at which a person is killed by a spouse but excluding every time it happened in their home?
@Bill E Pilgrim: Your right, I read John’s post too quickly and misread. Had a read it correctly, however, I would still make the point that tallying up deaths is too facile a way to evaluate security (or fiscal) policy.
@Bill E Pilgrim: but most of the American people believe in Evuul Islam and trying to push western culture on muslims to stop “terrorism”. Even most of the people here.
The more America pushes missionary democracy, the more terrorists we make, because its a force feedback response.
Its in the Quran…..respond to the Proselytizers in a proportionate fashion.
Another brilliant hypothesis but Captain Doom John Galt Cole. He will advocate raping women and children if it means support for his favorite pet issues.
And I suppose you were telling everyone to just shake it off when the twin towers came down? Makes sense eh Cole? More people die in car accidents every year so yea, just ignore these minor terror incidents right???
Brilliant idea there Cole. I’m sure Ron Paul is right there with you on that. It’s just the sort of idiotic overly simplified logic that Libertarians thrive on.
From the wikileaks (quoted here yesterday) on China: “The contaminated waters of the Pearl River and other water sources in Guangdong are as serious a threat to the region’s health and economic sustainability as the decline in exports, the closure of small and medium enterprises and the increasing utilization of land for nonproductive reasons.” Local residents in some heavily polluted areas display effects such as cancers and bone diseases stemming from exposure to high levels of arsenic, cadmium and other toxins.”
Conservatives will readily spend trillions fighting Al Qaeda, but will rail against spending millions to prevent pollution.
Don’t forget “Y2k bug was a scam because we spent all that money and nothing happened.”
@Belafon (formerly anonevent): wouldn’t that depend on who started the war?
Bill E Pilgrim
Fair enough. To your second post though: So how do you evaluate anything?
If someone says to you that there have been no deaths from crashing dirigibles since the early 20th century (I don’t know if this is actually true but just for example) and we’re spending billions to make sure this doesn’t happen again, does the zero instances year after year have any bearing on your being able to evaluate whether these billions are well-spent? I mean, part of your evaluation is going to be to see whether the money spent is actually stopping dirigibles from crashing into us, but part of it is also going to be about whether this was actually much of a danger to begin with.
As you can see here, people are using the low number of deaths as justification for the billions spent on the war on terror. It’s going to figure into the evaluation one way or the other.
The argument, in case it’s still not clear to anyone, is that year after year, for decades, a tiny number of American civilians are killed by terrorism, and ramping up the “war on terror” hasn’t changed this in any significant way.
I remember the first Gulf War, in the early 90s, and the American University in Paris suddenly lost such a huge percentage of its students from the US that they almost had to close, and they had to cancel courses, one of which was one I was going to teach. “Why?”, I asked, what in the world is going on, and the Dean explained to me that all of the parents were terrified that their children would be killed by terrorists if they went to Europe. To the point where it nearly destroyed the university, well, it pretty much did, they were bought and sold and etc.
We’re really run by mass hysteria in this country, what’s amazing is how many people buy into it, but that’s what mass hysteria means I guess.
There was a piece, published some time ago, about the cold calculations that the EPA uses in framing environmental regulations. The gist of it, IIRC, was that the EPA adjusted the stringency of regulations based on the cost of reducing the incidence of adverse health effects per X number of the populace. At some point, the cost of preventing a few more deaths becomes monumentally more costly than preventing the majority of them.
To me, we’re way past that point in attempting to prevent terrorist acts on American soil. Dedicated terrorists can always find a way to inflict harm. That they haven’t done so recently doesn’t suggest to me that our massive homeland security apparatus is thwarting them. It suggests that their work here is done. It would be very easy for a dedicated band of trained terrorists to get into the US through our southern border and then to wreak havoc in the nearest shopping mall.
@Bill E Pilgrim:
It’s nice to see you back.
Shut the fuck up. Almost all of you. Seriously. Can’t go from cheerleading Obama on Libya then back to this. You don’t see the connection between US military adventurism, and terrorist threats? Every time we meddle in another country’s affairs, whether to allegedly help out after a humanitarian disaster or not, we’re going to create a whole new country full of enemies, some of whom will come here to try to kill us. Helping Pakistan after their huge earthquake a couple years ago realy helped boost our image there, eh? It’s not for nothing the provisional Libyan government is telling us to go fuck ourselves. “But why aren’t they grateful?” Because they know we’ll fuck them up the way we fucked Qadaffi up, and Saddam, and everybody else, given an excuse. They don’t care if we helped them out of a jam; that’s nice, but they’re very aware that we operate on roughly the same lines as the mob, we did them a favor, now it’s their turn. Then we sit here and bitch about why there’s terrorism. It’s pretty simple – there’s terrorism because we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, and OBTW Libya. And prior to that we attacked Iraq and stationed troops in Saudi. Before that we decided to fuck around in Lebanon and be the Israeli’s rent boy. Prior to that we were messing around in Lebanon and with Egypt during the Suez crisis, and putting the Shah on the throne. And our meddling in the middle east goes back to 1805, at least, if the Marine Corps song is to be believed. All that UN and NATO shit doesn’t mean a thing; all it means is you got France to approve and maybe Russian and China sat on the sidelines quietly cheering for the great hegemon to run out and shoot itself in the foot.
The chickens keep coming home to roost and all y’all are bitching about the cost of the chicken feed and cheering for chicken farming generally. Stop breeding chickens then, already. People here were cheering the Libyan incursion the other week, and I guess missed the news over the weekend about the UK and France divvying up oil rights with the new provisional Libyan government. Y’know who made that little theft possible? The U.S…. the “indispensible nation.” The Libyans will remember that, and there will be payoff. Then we’ll be asking, “why do they hate us?”
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@someguy: You lost me at “Shut the fuck up. Almost all of you. Seriously. Can’t go from cheerleading Obama on Libya then back to this.” I couldn’t read the rest of your post.
@Bill E Pilgrim: Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a complete analytical framework in my back pocket to impress you with. But while I agree with much of the criticism of the current hysteria-driven policy-making, security is as much as basic human concern as food, shelter, and health care, and I think there are legitimate security threats that have to be dealt with in a serious way. The constant criticism of “fearmongering,” although legitimate, isn’t sufficient to address that need.
You mean we created enemies in Haiti and Japan when we helped with earthquake relief?
You mean, like when Eisenhower forced the Brits, France and the Israelis to back down?
Speaking of idiotic ideas. Why go into Libya? That is nuts. We have no business being there! That’s what you still think right Cole?
The message is clear; our cause is just; the time is now.
Declare all-out war on bathtubs.
Thanks, I’ll be in the bar.
You might well “bet if you compared how much we spend on terrorism per yer per death and calculated how much we would need to spend to have the same per capita ration for cancer deaths, it would be hundreds of trillions.”
I would bet that we kill many more innocent people fighting “terra,” than we kill “terrists” plus what the terrists manage to kill.
Our overall “return on investment of course” is efficient recruitment of the next generation’s terrorists.
What, precisely, is preventing China from spending money to mitigate pollution?
Does anyone know anything about the history or environmentalism, pollution, and green technology in the former Soviet Union or China?
It would be very easy for a dedicated band of trained terrorists to get into the US through our southern border and then to wreak havoc in the nearest shopping mall.
It would be even easier through our northern border. Drive or walk across the border, get to the Mall of America, engage in ah hours-long Bombay style shooting and bombing massacre, and watch American society crumble.
This reminds me of the thing that people say about a shark not attacking you unless you annoy it. The question is, how can you always know what annoys a shark?
On what are you basing your assertion that the terrorists are done? Was there some announcement that we all missed? Is this based on some historical precedent? And is it that terrorists are done everywhere, or just in the US? Let’s look at terrorist attacks in Mumbai: large series of attacks in 1993, then nothing until 2002. Four attacks in 2003, then nothing until 2006. Co-ordinated series of attacks in 2008, then nothing until 2011.
I mention India here because some terrorist organizations supposedly have targeted the US simply because we are friendly to and give aid to India, in addition to military efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Some people are foolish enough to believe that terrorists are done when their political objectives have been achieved. It is very interesting to get hints here that this old standard can be tossed out the window.
@Brachiator: What’s your point?
@someguy: Libya is different, as i have repeatedly pointed out here.
We were invited. we are working with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. We are on the right side for once.
You are trying to umbrella all interventions.
Do you, like mistermix, believe there is only one kind of intervention?
I see two distinct kinds, myself.
Type A– Peaceful Democracy Theory and the Bush Doctrine/COIN (Bush admin)
Type B– Humanitarian Interventionism and Right to Protect Doctrine.(Obama admin)
Type A is why we did not intervene in Rwanda– we had no interest there. Type A is why we did intervene in OIF and OEF, for Our Interests, and that led to the horrorshows in Iraq and A-stan.
the terrorists wont stop until we stop trying to cram missionary democracy down their throats.
Is a RESPONSE.
american society has already crumbled. werent you watching the dept ceiling implosion?
John, are you saying that our rights and liberties are being eroded by the Obama administration? Is this president using fear to divert our attention from the freedoms he is taking from us?
If so, should we support and vote for a president who would do that to us?
Poor President Obama is just trying slow the NLS collapse of Security State America. But its ok. Anonymous, #AntiSec and Julian Assange are watching out for your rights.
@Triassic Sands: And Cole is a Type A interventionist.
He already said so.
People dying from terrorist attacks is much, much worse than deaths from other causes, because they are, so shut up.
Obviously, if the dollar amount being invested in inefficiently encouraging situations which are likely to foment more terrorism were reduced, we’d have 9/11’s every day, because 9/11 was such a common thing involving no chain of opportunistic luck.
Somehow spending on anti-terrorism is preventing individuals from being snipers at malls, or tossing sticks of dynamite into bank doors, because it is, so SHUT UP.
We once defended ourselves from Nicaraguan troops driving up through Guatemala and Mexico and invading Texas, and we were so successful at that that no Americans ever died from Nicaraguan attack. I mean, here in America, and of course no one not on the side of our freedom fighters.