# The fear of fear itself or not actually that much to fear?

1. Feb 19, 2007

### Schrodinger's Dog

Now don't get me wrong I think there is a genuine concern about terrorism, and it's wise to at least be aware of the situation, but do you get the impression that there is just too much hysteria?

I can understand it, no doubt when the IRA first started bombing campaigns on English soil there was probably some real hysteria; having grown up with terrorism and experienced - if not terrorism at first hand - delays to subways and other effects of the threat of terror, such as seeing police armed with sub-machine guns at certain large stations and so on, I know what it's like to live under the threat of terror, I have done so since I was born, or at least since I understood the threat.

However certain people seem to see the threat as major and that they need to be frightened at all times, and worried about the safety of their country, there's no doubt a viable concern, but are some people too worried and who's fault is that? Anyway do you really think there's anything you can do other than take the risks into consideration and just proceed with business as usual, I mean if you actually change your lifestyle to fit around concerns aren't you letting the terrorists win?

In this country(UK) The idea is to carry on as if nothing had happened, even after a major attack the onus is on getting back to a normal routine ASAP. And it's been that way since I can remember, people say, man that was terrible, anyway I'll be at work tomorrow, doing what I got to do.

Is there too much made out of this for political purposes, over here we associate escalation of terror mostly with bad foreign policy, yeah there are other reasons but people aren't necessarily pointing at terrorists as the ultimate and only cause of the actions, where as in some places the opposite seems to happen, it's all the terrorists fault(which of course technically it is) But this does not happen in a vacuum, they don't wake up one morning and think, hmm toss a coin who shall I hate today?

I see too much political machination and to much fear mongering; this can't be good; luckily we're used to terror over here, or at least most are, so we don't get all bent out of shape, we've lived with it for nearly 40 years,many civilians and soldiers died at the hands of the IRA, and many more were injured. The casualties on English soil were only in the hundreds, but in the UK ie Northern Ireland, they were much greater.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provisional_IRA_campaign_1969-1997

I can only feel a deal of sympathy for countries such as Israel where the level of concern is much greater, and yet we don't see people reacting in anywhere near the same way, even there? Are some people being manipulated?

Should we take up the business as usual approach, stirred but not shaken?

Last edited: Feb 19, 2007
2. Feb 19, 2007

### Moridin

The goal of terrorism is to invoke terror in people. It is also to encourage as much retaliation against the niche of the world deemed the enemy, and thus, getting more and more people willing to join their ideological ideas and organizations. Removing the result of people shaking with fear is to put a serious dent in their plans. If their efforts seem to be useless, they will most often think that their efforts are useless. By doing anything else than 'business as usual' is to promote terrorism in one way or another.

Yes, there is a real concern for terrorism against the west, much as it is concern for global warming, increase in population of Asia, its effects and everything else that spells oncoming doom for a large part of the population.

Terrorism exists all over the world, not only in the UK, the USA and Israel. There is plenty of terrorism in West bank and Gaza and let's not forget Spain, Germany and Indonesia. In one way or another, terrorism is a frequent tool used by organizations less powerful throughout time.

3. Feb 19, 2007

### Staff: Mentor

I think one needs to be vigilant, especially if one travels to certain parts of the world, otherwise business as usual applies.

I am perhaps cynical, but I do believe Bush, Cheney and some of their sympathizes do actively incite anger and hostility in parts of the world, and in effect, promote terrorism by their actions, e.g. the war in Iraq. I also believe this is done very deliberately for political and financial gain.

4. Feb 19, 2007

### Staff: Mentor

Scale is a big factor, S-D - more American civilians died due to terrorism on 9/11 than British civilians during the entire duration of the "troubles" in the UK.

5. Feb 19, 2007

### EL

Great post Schrodinger's Dog.
I which more governments had enough courage to react less.

6. Feb 19, 2007

### Futobingoro

When a man walks outside and feels no raindrops, he does not need an umbrella. But he should not be so naive as to fold up his umbrella in a rainstorm because he could feel no raindrops falling.

Now, it is debatable whether the terrorist threat is as great as many would make it seem. But a lack of terrorist attacks is hardly a reason for a nation to reduce its defenses, to fold up its umbrella.

In fact, the metric for any nation's anti-terrorist force is the degree to which nothing happens within that nation. In that sense, money spent on "nothing" is money well spent.

7. Feb 20, 2007

### Schrodinger's Dog

You'll notice I don't mention the government or the secret services in my post, of course they should be expanding their efforts to catch terrorists before they get a chance to act; my thoughts were only directed at the common citizenry.

The reason I put this up is because of several people I have met on line from countries where they have never faced terrorism in any widespread way; the level of fear they felt lead them to make all sorts of stupid claims, such as eventually Europe will be come Arabic and under sharia law because of the influx of immigrants, and also that it was possible because some radicals were preaching in the UK, that again eventually Islam would gain a foothold and sharia would be passed into law.

They seemed to be operating on a level of hysteria I've never come across before, jumping at shadows; every news report was evidence of the menace: coming soon to a country near you; I'm sure these sorts of people aren't unique, so I'd figured I'd find out what you all think, and whether some governments are manipulating the concern for political reasons, clearly some people are buying into the fearmongers rhetoric.

Last edited: Feb 20, 2007
8. Feb 20, 2007

### Panda

You need to factor in the politics of fear. This is often lost under an avalanche of conspiracy theories but looking at the history of Islamic Fundamentalism from it's 1st serious roots in Egypt through to today there are a number of well documented examples that point towards western governments using the politics of fear to their own advantage.

It is easier to govern a population in fear. If you want to raise taxes by 1p/1c to finance the military, who is more likely to vote you in. The population that has been told that whilst terrorism exists the actual impact is less than car crashes, or the population that has been told that theor loved ones are highly likely to blown up in the streets?

The UK, US and Spain brought in quite drakonian laws that limit peoples rights to a fair trial under the shadow of terrorist attacks. If these laws had been availble before the attacks they would have prevented them, so who has benefited?

Iraq and Afghanistan were invaded, but have they stopped the terror cells responsible for the attacks or created more? Who benefits from the war in Iraq, the military in bigger budgets and a training ground, The oil companies who now control the oil, Motorolla who are installing GSM in one of the few countries that had resisted the technology.

Major corporations actually lobbied both the UK and US government about the impact of the war and from US documents it appears that most of the US companies who spoke to Mr Bush now have lucrative contracts rebuilding infrastructure post war.

I have seen the aftermath of an IRA terrorist attack twice and whilst horrific the impact is short term for the vast majority of people involved.
Looking at the aftermath of the counter terror attacks as performed by the US + Friends in Iraq and Israel in Palestein, the affects are not only long lasting but can only lead to greater terror levels.

The question is, is it politically profitable to the major Western powers to sit down and come to an arrangement where we let minority groups live their own lives on their own land without persecution by the west? or is it, as I suspect, better for their re-election prospects to throw a few more bodies on the fire no matter who's side those bodies come from?

9. Feb 20, 2007

### ptabor

SD has hit it on the nose: fear is a tool to keep the populace in line. It is fear that keeps the average american citizen from being outraged that gitmo detainees are unable to have their cases heard... By keeping your populace supressed with fear, it is easier to remove rights one at a time.

In so far as the general populace is concerned... I would say that business as usual is a little too complacent - every citizen needs to be aware of their surroundings at all times. This is to say, take note of how the people around you behave, take note of the nearest exits, etc..

This is not only to prevent terrorism, or at least to mitigate its effects, but to make our populace safer as a whole. By vigilant and alert, I don't just mean keep your eye out for "terrorists" - there are all sorts of ill wishers of a lesser degree.

10. Mar 4, 2007

### Art

If one thinks about it on a scale of 'death through non-natural causes' death through 'terrorist' acts would probably score only slightly ahead of death through spontaneous human combustion and pale into insignificance against causes such as road accidents and so it seems the resources spent on tackling terrorism are grossly disproportional to the possible benefits.

If gov'ts were genuinely interested in what is best for their citizens it seems a large proportion of this money would be better spent on road safety improvements and public healthcare.

The fact it is not suggests that some politicians hype up the threat of terrorism playing ''the politics of fear' card to suit their own agendae.

Last edited: Mar 4, 2007
11. Mar 4, 2007

### devil-fire

i think the real difference here is that we can all see when its raining. with terrorism, we have other people telling us if it is or is not raining and how hard, and those are the same people who are selling us umbrellas, rain coats, rubber boots, gloves, water resistant roofs, windshield wipers, and eaves troff's, and if we should drive to work or take their taxi service. we are also told it hasn't been a sunny day for years and that we might get wet if we are told how they can tell.

12. Mar 5, 2007

### denverdoc

Great thread, SD. Its all so Orwellian and finding new enemies to pump up the military industrial complex, while dismantling the constitutional rights we here were all taught to be sacred and inviolable. Its been so long I can barely remember the Bush presidency prior to 911. Suffice it to say it was foundering. And while I view the conspiracy theories with interest and amusement, the current admin is simply not smart enuf to have planned something like 911. What they did do is capitalize it on with a fervor. It became "the" war on terror. Well 1984 is laid out pretty much the same way.

I like the arguments cited--50K die in car crashes every year, 9 or 10K by handgun homicide. Many many more from diabetes, heart disease and drug addiction. Iraq is gonna cost well over a trillion before were done.

Thats enuf to fund the NIH for about 40 years at current levels:
http://www.nih.gov/news/budget/FY2006presbudget.pdf

This does not begin to account for all the  spent of Homeland Security. And no not saying all this has been misspent, we had to tighten things up.

Generally aid to israel has been about 100 bucks for every one sent to Palestine. What if we had simply tried to buy goodwill? Instead of all the Machiavelian crap thats characterized our foreign policy for the past 50 years in the middle east, just said "no" being Israels most ardent supporter. A trillion dollars could buy a lot of goodwill, we spent it generating ill-will. Just plain dumb is all.

13. Mar 5, 2007

### devil-fire

for me this is key. there are good systems to combat the threat of terrorist attacks that could also be used to combat the illegal traffic of humans, drugs and arms (such as a better monitor system on oceanic ports, a world standard for passports, international police agencies like interpol) but these things really aren't getting the amount of attention they deserve, seemingly because they are too mundane to make people feel like the government is doing fantastic things for their safety.

this war on terror seems to me to be more about appearances of danger then about actually increasing the protections for citizens