< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://sirhumphreys.com" > Sir Humphrey's: Reality is something that happens to other people

SIR HUMPHREY'S BLOG

SITE MOVED:Sir Humphrey's has moved

Please join us at our new site: www.sirhumphreys.com.

The RSS feed for sirhumphreys.com is now here.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Reality is something that happens to other people

Joe Hendren has a nice little post up about how terrorism is not that much of a problem after all, it's all a beat-up of militaries and intelligence agencies looking for new missions. Just like warfare in general since the end of the Cold War, terrorism is also in decline. Well, so he'd have you believe if you think the last five years never happened.

Here is the essence of what the Spectator article says, from which his post originates.
So much for the idea that the world is becoming more unstable. What of the second thesis — that global terrorism poses a new and unprecedented threat to our security? Again, the concept turns out to be unsound. I recommend that the fearful visit the excellent website of the Rand Corporation’s MIPT (Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism) database and try out its ‘Incident Analysis Wizard’ (www.tkb.org/ChartModule.jsp). However you fiddle MIPT’s figures, the chart always ends up looking roughly the same — a big peak in terrorism in the late 1970s and early ’80s, followed by a steady reduction ever since. During the 1980s, the number of international terrorist incidents worldwide averaged about 360 a year. By the year 2000, it was down to just 100. In Western Europe, the number has declined from about 200 in the mid-1980s to under 30 in 2004. Even more strikingly, in North America the number of attacks has fallen from over 40 a year in the mid-1970s to under five every year for the past ten years, with the sole exception of 2001.
But it is only true for the years up to 2000... Why ignore the next five years available? Because when I go to the figures and do the the charts for which data is available from 1968 to 2005, there is a might big bounce in incidents, deaths and to a lesser degree injuries, just after 2000....



Curious that, I mean regardless of why there are these attacks, the claim that terrorism is in decline is just not supported unless you arbitrarily remove the most recent data. The above omits "domestic" incidents, since the data is only available from 1998. I suspect if you add it in terrorism would look even worse as places nominally under Russian control would be included. Here are the available domestic incidents, also bouncing...But what post by unreality-based communities would be complete without a little conspiracy theory thrown into the mix?
It also should be pointed out that conservative Republicians attempted to whip up fears about international terrorism when Reagan took office in 1981. Libya became the official punching bag. Qaddafi may have been a thug, but most importantly he did not have the military capability to effectively fight back against US aggression. Unlike the USSR Qaddafi did not possess nuclear weapons.
Libya, who selflessly bombed a disco in Germany and organised the destruction of an airliner over Lockerbie... poor little Libya, the heart bleeds for the "punching bag" of nasty old Ron. Terrorism was on the up before Reagan became President, stayed constant up until the collapse of the Soviet Union and then began to fall. Gee, do you think that the economic activity and collapse of the terror-sponsors-in-chief could have had something to do with that pattern? Nah, it was all the Republican's fault.
Perhaps the worst failure of the current foreign policy of the Bush administration is that it is teaching Iraq, Iran and North Korea that possession of nuclear weapons and other WMDs represent the only defence that will prevent a US invasion. In those countries, fear is rebounding on the US.
Errr, Iraq? Iraq being taught that nukes will prevent a US invasion? Hasn't it already suffered that, because of that? I also wonder how Bush's foreign policy is responsible for the games between Pyongyang, Clinton, Albright and the rest during the 1990s. Of course the public admission of that poor wee punching bag and "just" a thug Qaddafi that he has given up pursuing such arms is irrelevant... just leave out the bits that don't fit the thesis and sweet!

But back in the original article
Remember the FLQ, the Red Brigades, the Red Army Faction, the Baader-Meinhof group, and all the rest of them? All defunct. Even Eta haven’t killed anybody for a couple of years. Bluntly, terrorism is a declining problem, despite our best efforts to provoke it.
Funnily enough, all those groups were Marxist/communist organisations. How were they defeated? By the defeat of their sponsors perhaps? Which also explains
In Western Europe, the number has declined from about 200 in the mid-1980s to under 30 in 2004. Even more strikingly, in North America the number of attacks has fallen from over 40 a year in the mid-1970s to under five every year for the past ten years, with the sole exception of 2001.
which is cited as evidence for the drop in terrorism. But what about the rise of terrorism in central Asia and such places after the grip of Soviet power fell away? Oh, no mention of that.

Can imagine the scenario (derided as illusory in the article)... terrorism has been declining for a decade now, with only one attack last year. Granted, it was a nuclear device in Paris that killed 200,000 people, but if we exclude that then terrorism is all but defeated!

Posted by Chefen | 11/14/2005 08:38:00 PM