Mass hysteria: “a phenomenon that transmits collective delusions of threats, whether real or imaginary, through a population in society as a result of rumors and fear.” —Wikipedia
Example: The Republican response to the terrorist attack in Paris.
Not their finest hour. Over 30 Republican governors raced to the nearest news camera to declare – with their chests puffed up and their voice an octave lower – that they would not allow a single Syrian refugee to relocate in their state … regardless of their desperate, heartbreaking situation. (Footnote: quite a contrast with our neighbor to the north that began receiving their first Syrian refugees with open arms.)
However, leave to Mr. Butterball, Chris Christy to make the biggest “a–” out of himself. When it was his turn before the cameras Christy made it crystal clear where he stood when he declared in his booming, New Jersey accent that he would not even allow “a three year old orphan” to enter.
Now that’s what I call leadership.
Let’s look at the facts. On Nov. 14 the Paris attacks took the lives of 129 innocent men, women and children. On Dec. 2 another 14 died at the hands of two young radical jihadists in San Bernardino, CA.
So, over the course of the past 30 days 143 lives were brutally, senselessly murdered.
Over that same span of time consider the following:
1. 28 Americans are killed by drunk drivers each and every day for a total monthly total of approximately 840.
2. 715 Americans die of gun violence each month.
3. 3,357 women die every month in this country from breast cancer.
4. 12,000 men, women and children die every month in our nation’s hospitals from preventable medical errors.
5. Over 3,000 Americans die each month because they lack health insurance and can’t afford the cost of medical care out of their own pocket.
Recent surveys have found that 28% of the American people are worried that they will be subject to a terrorist attack – just a few percentage points less than the fear of gun violence.
Once again, some FACTS are in order:
1. 45 Americans have been killed since 9/11 by terrorist attacks. In contrast roughly 11,000 homicides are committed each year for a total of 165,000 killed since 9/11 by our own homegrown “terrorists.”
2. The odds of being a victim of a terrorist attack is 1 in 4,000,000. In contrast, the risk of being killed by a gun is 1 in 40,000.
3. Since Sandy Hook 512 children have been killed – 1 every other day.
The Republican candidates for President are fond of quoting Obama’s comment that ISIS is the JV team. On this criticism I have to agree with the Republicans. ISIS is not the JV team … they‘re still competing on the junior high level.
I’m not in anyway diminishing the threat they pose or the heartbreak they have already caused, but they do not pose an existential threat to the United States or our allies. Yes, they are sadistic, brutal killers but the ultimate damage they will do is very limited.
Since ISIS began their rain of terror they have captured land about the size of Connecticut. In that same period of time Adolph Hitler built Germany’s military forces to the biggest in the world. He invaded Poland in 1939 and in a few short years he conquered virtually all of Europe plus a third of Russia. If Hitler hadn’t made the foolhardy mistake of tying to fight a war on two fronts, the Swastika might still be flying over the conquered territories of Europe.
Why do I believe ISIS is in the Little Leagues? Consider these statistics from World War II. The war lasted for 2,174 days and would claim the lives of 27,600 every day, or 1,150 an hour, or 19 per minute or one every 3 seconds.
Over the past 30 days – since the attack in Paris – 828,000 lives would be lost based on the daily rate during WW II.
ISIS must be defeated but we must not make the mistakes of the past. We must be patient, we must be smart. We can provide logistical support and training but we must not put “boots” on the ground. If we send in tens of thousands of troops we would become mired in another endless, largely religious, conflict that will only sow the seeds of new and possibly even more ruthless killers.
Chancellor Angela Merkel probably said it best: “No one knew how the Cold War would end at the time, but it did end. This is within our living experience … I’m surprised at how fainthearted we sometimes are, and how quickly we loose courage.”
It is for this reason and the statistics that I’ve cited above that I am opposed to increased spending for the defense department or our national security agencies. The current budget for the defense department is over $600 billion – more than the next two nations combined. And, we spend over $60 billion on intelligence gathering. If we simply use our existing resources in smart ways and we don’t lose courage in the end the free world will prevail … as we always have.