During the past six weeks, the world has seen an unending string of terrorist attacks. At home, we have witnessed the assassination of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. We have seen the effects of radical jihad in Orlando and Nice. Our TV’s have shown us the carnage in the attack on the Istanbul airport, an assault on a German train by a terrorist with a knife and hatchet and people being gunned down at a mall in Munich.
State Department issues summer travel alert throughout Europe
The U.S. Department of State has taken the unusual step of issuing a warning for Americans traveling to Europe for the entire summer. Travel agencies have said that fewer Americans are planning to visit Europe this summer and that the number of those who purchase travel insurance has increased by nearly 20%.
On the first day of June, more than 70 people were killed by terrorist attacks in Iraq and Syria; incidents that don’t even make the news anymore. Wikipedia maintains a list of terrorist events around the world listed by month and in July alone there had been more than 70 terrorist incidents in the first ten days of the month.
"The U.S. State Department's annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2015, released on Thursday, counts 11,774 terrorist attacks in 92 countries last year."
— Summary of U.S. State Department annual report
The psychology of fear
The goal of terrorists is to instill fear in our daily lives in the hope that it will make their cause relevant. They seek headlines by engaging in shocking acts that we cannot avoid.
"Fear is the primary psychological weapon underlying acts of terrorism. It is this fear, or the anticipation of future acts of terror, that can have serious effects on our behavior and minds."
— Daniel Antonius, director of forensic psychiatry at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Fear leads to a demand for action. Americans want to feel safe in their homes, on their streets, and on their travels. The challenge is to find the best path forward to achieve that universal and shared goal.
Should we enact stricter gun control laws to limit access to guns or make it easier for everyone to carry a gun for self-protection? Should we further arm our police and cover them in protective body armor, or should we move to make police officers look less military and friendlier? Should we regard terrorism as a global problem and use American troops in other countries to eliminate terrorists or should we move to protect our borders with a wall and isolate ourselves from the outside world?
There are no easy answers. Terrorism is changing the way people feel and how governments act. No one is sure what the solution is, but around the world people are demanding that something be done to make us feel safe on our streets. It is a challenge that Hillary Clinton and Donald must answer to be elected.