Many of the atrocities of the present government are justified by reference to the ongoing “terrorist threat,” or, in shorthand, “terror.” I’ve been maintaining that this threat has been vastly overstated, to the point where it would probably be more sensible to say that there is no terrorist threat than to obsess over how we can protect ourselves from it. When I put it this way, though, no one wants to agree with me.
Terrorism relies on horrifying acts to generate the popular conviction that those acts are but the tip of an iceberg of violence and chaos. […] From this perspective, each terrorist attack, whether in England, Egypt, Iraq or Israel, provides evidence that the bulk of the terrorist iceberg lies unseen below the surface.
An opposing view sees acts like the 9/11 attacks and the Madrid and London bombings as jagged bits of dangerous ice floating on corks. Terrorist motivations may readily be discerned within specific arenas, such as Israel, Chechnya, Egypt or Iraq. But beyond these arenas, the subsurface threat is far from being an iceberg. Instead, this view starts from the idea that terrorist acts outside those war zones represent more or less the maximum capacity of the perpetrators at any point in time.