Krugman: Right-Wingers Don't Get That the Paris Terrorists Want to Provoke France into War
It's the kind of argument that seems to be over the head of Republican luminaries like Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, and of course it does happen to be right. Krugman brings some calm and wisdom to the Paris attacks, responding to "Jeb Bush’s declaration that “this is an organized attempt to destroy Western civilization.”
"No, it isn’t," Krugman writes. "It’s an organized attempt to sow panic, which isn’t at all the same thing. And remarks like that, which blur that distinction and make terrorists seem more powerful than they are, just help the jihadists’ cause."
A much bigger risk, in practice, is that the targets of terrorism will try to achieve perfect security by eliminating every conceivable threat — a response that inevitably makes things worse, because it’s a big, complicated world, and even superpowers can’t set everything right. On 9/11 Donald Rumsfeld told his aides: “Sweep it up. Related and not,” and immediately suggested using the attack as an excuse to invade Iraq. The result was a disastrous war that actually empowered terrorists, and set the stage for the rise of ISIS.
And let’s be clear: this wasn’t just a matter of bad judgment. Yes, Virginia, people can and do exploit terrorism for political gain, including using it to justify what they imagine will be a splendid, politically beneficial little war.
Oh, and whatever people like Ted Cruz may imagine, ending our reluctance to kill innocent civilians wouldn’t remove the limits to American power. It would, however, do wonders for terrorist recruitment.
Finally, terrorism is just one of many dangers in the world, and shouldn’t be allowed to divert our attention from other issues. Sorry, conservatives: when President Obama describes climate change as the greatest threat we face, he’s exactly right. Terrorism can’t and won’t destroy our civilization, but global warming could and might.