16 April 2010

Biggest Threat, Part 4: The Return of the Thing From Part 2

Slim, I hate to disagree with you, but I would not classify some of the items from the list in your previous post as major security threats. I agree with most of them, but I do not think that lone gunmen or domestic based terrorists are major national security issues. Granted, I think they both could cause a lot of problems but neither of them represents a systemic threat to the United States. A lone gunman could assassinate a politician or kill a lot of people, which would be very unfortunate, but the institutions of government and business would continue to function. As for domestic terrorists, I do not think that any white supremacist, ultra-nationalist, fundamentalist or other similar group could garner enough popular support to pose a serious threat.

I am not saying that these things are not dangerous, just that they are not the most plausible means through which the national interests of the United States could be threatened. It’s also worth noting that I am defining the national interests as primacy, territorial integrity, international stability, domestic tranquility, and a well-behaved economy. Lone gunmen and domestic terrorists could threaten domestic tranquility, but not to the extent that the US could “fail” as a country.

I also want to go back to my original argument for just a minute. The reason that I included socio-economic problems on my list is because they are very subtle and it’s easy to underestimate the threat they pose. Dr. Bernanke even testified in front of Congress that the exploding national debt could undermine foreign confidence in the United States and cause all sorts of problems. I agree with you that hard security threats are important to guard against, but if the US is going to fail then it’s going to be because of a socio-economic issue that policymakers never addressed. It’s like how one out every three Americans owns a gun, but the average American is much more likely to die from the results of poor lifestyle choices (heart disease, diabetes, and cancer) than from homicide.

1 comment:

  1. This was kind of like the Rocky series, where part III was kind of a throwaway with Hulk Hogan and Mr. T thrown in and part IV was a classic.