“Rhetoric about transcendent threats and mortal dangers grips the imagination of the American people,” Fareed Zakaria wrote in the middle of September. “Ever since World War II, the United States has tended to make its strategic missteps by exaggerating dangers.”
We do? At this moment Mumbai is still burning and counting the dead, now numbering over 150 since the attacks began on Wednesday. In India’s business capital, it would be hard to find people agreeing with the famous Indian-born Newsweek pundit, who lives in his cherished, cheerful world.
In Zakaria’s world, terrorists are just the misguided products of poverty. “If America can keep its cool and provide the help that countries really seek-in development, modernization and democracy-building-then we will gain in both security and legitimacy,” he wrote in his September piece.
That’s a comforting thought when the top leadership of the world’s most prominent terrorist organization is composed of educated and wealthy men. But even if Zakaria is correct, a nation cannot enjoy economic development until it finds, captures, and either imprisons or kills the terrorists lurking within.
“We live in remarkably peaceful times,” Zakaria noted. We have been fortunate to have lived through a long period of peace that began at the end of the Cold War. But if we want it to continue, the last thing we should do is think prosperity will buy off the terrorists.