The Atlantic

How Far Should Societies Go to Prevent Terror Attacks?

Almost everyone is unwilling to do certain things to eliminate terrorism. And that is fortunate, for the endurance of a free society depends upon it.
Source: Neil Hall / Reuters

After the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, David French, the conservative writer and Iraq War veteran, published an article at National Review that harkens back to the Bush administration in several ways—most objectionably in its attempt to use a kind of political correctness to advance the counterterrorism policies that he prefers.

The article, “The World Is Too Comfortable With Terror,” eventually offers substantive arguments for those policy preferences. And they are worth grappling with on the merits: the author is an intelligent commentator opining earnestly on an important subject.

But the article begins by priming the reader as follows:

Make no mistake, there is an emerging bipartisan consensus that a certain amount of terrorism is just the price we have to pay to live the way we want to live. Now, to be clear, very few people will come out and say this explicitly, and national-security establishments do their best — within certain, limited parameters — to stop every single terror attack, but more than 15 years after 9/11 it’s clear that there are prices our societies aren’t willing to pay. And neither our nation nor any of our European allies is willing to pay the price to reduce the terror threat to its pre-9/11 scale.

Consequently, an undetermined number of civilians will die, horribly, at concerts, restaurants, nightclubs, or simply while walking on the sidewalk. It almost certainly won’t be you, of course, but it will be somebody

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic11 min read
Why Everyone Should Sleep Alone
The bedroom can seem to contain the heart of a marriage. In the 2012 Judd Apatow movie This Is 40, the epicenter of marital tension is the bedroom of the onscreen couple, played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. Pete and Debbie are as comely as their Los
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
The GOP’s Witnesses Aren’t Helping Trump
If Republicans thought Kurt Volker and Timothy Morrison would bust the Democrats’ case for impeachment, they were likely disappointed by what they heard today.
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
What I Mean When I Say I'm in the Resistance
My personal efforts alone cannot save the country, but it’s imperative that I don’t sit out the fight.