This paper develops the paradigm of terrorism as a market, with a supply side that has received inordinate attention and a demand side that has received too little attention.
Terrorism is a tool for achieving a purpose, which is to bring attention to and advance the causes of terrorists. Terrorists bring attention to their causes by triggering the public’s fear that they are at risk of death and/or injury from an imminent terrorist attack. The public’s fear of terrorism is much like its fear of crime, in that fear levels remain high even as most objective evidence indicates that the likelihood of becoming a victim is small. There is sufficient reason to believe that the public’s fears of terrorist attacks are inflated, and these inflated fears cause harm both over the short term and long term. In the short term, fear diverts people from productive activities, and it can cause severe stresses that constrain their activities and reduce their quality of life over an extended period. Over the longer term, public fear can induce politicians to pander to the public’s fears, taking actions that reduce freedoms and invoke responses at home and abroad that undermine democratic values and international cooperation. It is rational for governments and political leaders to conduct continual assessments of the terrorist threat based on intelligence collection and analysis, followed by cost-effective protective measures. The public should in turn be informed about objective threat assessments and how governments at every level are responding to the threat, such that excessive fear is reduced. 25 references
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