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Sunday, December 6, 2015


President Barack Obama will at 8PM Eastern time (3PM in Hawaii) address the nation on terrorism from his Oval Office, only the third time he will have used this office for a major speech in almost seven years.  Here is a list of all the terrorist incidents since 1982.  You haven't even heard of the latest two:
  • December 5:  15 people killed in Chad by four female suicide bombers belonging to Boko Haram
  • December 6:  governor of Aden in Yemen assassinated in a car bomb attack by ISIS.
There was, of course, that San Bernardino shooting on December 2, where 16 died.  What was most disturbing of this ISIS related massacre is that Syed Rizwan Farook was born in Chicago, and the couple responsible for this tragedy had a 6 month old child.  Sure, Syed was a troubled youth in a abusive home, but he got an environmental health degree from California State University Riverside and had a stable public health job for five years?  He was quiet, polite and held no grudges, according to coworkers.  

Yes, his wife, Tashfeen Malik, was born in Pakistan, living part of her life in Saudi Arabia, but had a pharmacy degree and a permanent resident Green Card, which means she passed all the tests for marriage and past history.  Neither was on any kind of anti-terrorism list.  While she is suspected as the mastermind, he certainly was a case of domestic radicalization.  There will be many more for another generation.

How can you possibly predict what happened under those circumstances?    This case, to me, is somewhat similar to that of Richard Reid, who in 2001 boarded American Airlines 63 and attempted to ignite his shoe bomb.  It's almost like he failed on purpose--as he could have done this in the restroom--for that attempt led to 14 years, and counting, of shoe-checking at airports.  The San Bernardino terrorists will now force homeland security to overreact and spread the net of potential terrorists to a huge fraction of our population with any kind of Muslim link.

I might further add that between the November 13 Paris attack (137 fatalities) and  the one in San Bernardino, there were  16 other terrorist incidents.  SO WHY AM I SAYING TERRORISM IS OVERBLOWN?  Simple:  earlier this week I said terrorists have "only" been annually responsible for 20,000 deaths, and it would take half a century to get up to a million killed.  Let me add a few more comparisons (rate per 100,000 inhabitants):
  • (6.2)   Worldwide, there are 437,000 homicides/year.
  • (3.8)   United States alone, 12,253 murders/year.
  • (0.3)   Worldwide deaths through terrorism, 20,000/year.
  • In six years, up to 80 million died in World War II, or roughly 13 million/year, or, it would take 4000 years for terrorists to reach the deaths just in that war.  How far back in  history is that time?  Think Mesopotamia and Egyptian Pharaohs, when pyramids were being built.
Thus, there is huge pressure to expand the defense budget to better protect ourselves.  Which is nonsensical, for since 9/11, USA soil has suffered from 45, yes, 45, deaths from Jihadi terrorism.  New America has reported that during that same period, White Supremacists and other right-winged extremist ideologists killed 48.

Nonjihadist extremists
Fort Hood shooting
Boston Marathon bombing
Charleston shooting

Of course, to the above Jihadists toll you need to add the San Bernardino killings, which still leave that total lower than from NONE-jihadist perpetrators.

What has happened is that ISIS or ISIL or Daesh or IS (I suspect, simply Islamic State will ultimately prevail) or whatever has sufficiently pissed off the powers that are, so that severe and methodical tactics will be utilized to reduce their influence to that of the Taliban and Al-Queda today.

Still not terrific, but hardly the crisis fomented by Republican presidential candidates.  The solution will come after the Soviet Union and U.S. decide what to do with Bashar al-Assad (left).  Mind you, home-grown jihadists will not go away for another generation, but that is not anything close to any kind of nuclear holocaust.

Expansion of nuclear capability in North Korea and Iran will be troublesome, but a  return to some serious new Hot War with the the Soviet Union and/or China someday, tossing in biological warfare and other weapons of mass destruction, which I hope we can prevent, would be a deadly serious concern.  Global warming?  Inconvenient, irksome, frustrating and, maybe, dangerous.  Terrorism?  Way overblown.


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