Episode 104: The American Response to September 11

On September 11, 2001, a tiny group of deluded men — members of al-Qaida, a fringe group of a fringe group with grandiose visions of its own importance — managed, again largely because of luck, to pull off a risky, if clever and carefully planned, terrorist act that became by far the most destructive in history.
— John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart in "The Terrorism Delusion"
Accordingly, it is surely time to consider that, as Russell Seitz put it in 2004, ‘9/11 could join the Trojan Horse and Pearl Harbor among stratagems so uniquely surprising that their very success precludes their repetition,’ and, accordingly, that ‘al-Qaeda’s best shot may have been exactly that.’
— Mueller and Stewart quoting Russell Seitz in "Weaker Than We Think"

Nearly fifteen years ago, members of al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes, killing 2,996 and injuring over 6,000 in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The unprecedented tragedy of the event led many Americans, including politicians, to wonder about the likelihood of similar atrocities in the future. This week, we welcome Sam Whipple to discuss an article written in 2012 entitled "The Terrorism Delusion: America's Overwrought Response to September 11". In the article, authors John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart suggest that the political and security responses since the attacks have been blown out of proportion and imply a false probability and reality of terrorism that statistics do not reflect. In what ways do our communal fears and feelings of empathy lead us to trust in any promise of safety? How do politicians capitalize on emotion rather than facts and statistics? How might we have a healthy conversation as a country and a globe which acknowledges both legitimate fears and consistent evidence?