The basic idea behind “the opposites of terrorism” is that we don’t want to respond to terrorism or the threat of terrorism in a manner that advances the terrorists’ aims. Rather, we want to respond to terrorism by doing the “opposite” of terrorism, whatever that may be.
This morning I found the following post on Daily Kos. I’ve pasted in part of the posting, but I urge you to read Did Osama bin Laden Win? in its entirety.
What happened to the United States on 9/11 was no simple thing. It was an enormous tragedy that played out over several states and touched millions of lives. The impact was deep, immediate, and painful. It was an acute infection of horror.
What happened in the wake of 9/11 was something altogether different. In the end, it’s what came after that is the biggest cause of prolonged suffering.
As awful as 9/11 was, it was not a threat to our survival as a nation, not a threat to our ability to project American power around the world, not a threat to our economy, not a threat to our freedoms. However, our response to 9/11 endangered all those things. It still does. Like an immune system eating itself from the feet up, we’ve surrendered thousands of lives, expended trillions of dollars both at home and abroad, abandoned friends, embraced enemies, and tolerated previously intolerable insults to privacy.
Our reaction to terrorism isn’t unique. Similar overactive immune responses of government are present at several levels. For example, preventing violence and maintaining order definitely have benefits, but in the name of getting “tough on crime”, we’ve escalated our response until we’ve come close to bankrupting many states and put a significant portion of the population behind bars. At the same time we’ve created a pervasive, violent criminal class and eliminated programs of remediation that had actually proven to be effective. Intent on punishment, we forgot the purpose of the whole system.
This seems to be a good argument for thinking about doing the opposites.