The Risks of Overreaction

Matt Yglesias has tallied up the victims of Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel since the Israeli withdrawal, and found that thirteen soldiers and seven civilians died, while twenty-seven soldiers and seven civilians were wounded. All of which brings to mind John Mueller’s excellent piece, “Six Rather Unusual Propositions About Terrorism” (which you should all read, of course). The first of those six propositions is that “terrorism generally has only limited direct effects.” This is obviously the case with the Hezbollah attacks. But the second proposition is that “the costs of terrorism very often come mostly from the fear and consequent
reaction (or overreaction) it characteristically inspires.” As Mueller’s essay shows, this is clearly the case with 9/11. And as all international observers now realize, this is equally the case in Lebanon.

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