The Corner

Terror Targets Here and There

I’ve gotten a pile of emails along these lines (though this is the only which references TK421):

In response to your e-mailer who suggested that NYC is the most logical target as it is the largest metropolitan area, I would make this counter argument.  Most Americans, in fact, do not live in NYC, or even in large metropolitan areas.  The easiest way to strike fear into the hearts of MOST Americans, would be to blow up a mall in St. Louis or a high school basketball game in Wyoming.  I live in DC, and have come to grips with the uncomfortable fact that my home is an obvious target.  My extended family in the midwest has no such fear, and views the terrorism threat as real, but neither local nor immediate.  Additional attacks on NYC or DC would be subject to the law of diminishing returns, as the rest of country would come to view this as just another local hazard, like hurricanes in the south or earthquakes in California.  Attacks on places no one has ever heard of would, I fear, paralyze the entire country.

Keep up the good work and links to welcome diversions. Any reference to “TK-421″ is a good reference.

Me: I think there’s a lot of merit to this. I’ve often thought the scariest scenario — aside from a WMD attack — would be for al Qaeda to follow the Beslan model of the Chechens.  Although, I shudder to think what America would do in response to such a thing. I surely wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of the American hammer. 

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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