Action and Reaction in Terrorism

In the Boston attack, both the action and the reaction turn out to have followed recent patterns.

The action:

No great surprise here. The perps were Islamic young men. But more precisely, they were from a clannish society prone to vendetta, violence, retribution, and hostility to the outsider.

The Chechens of Russia’s North Caucasus region are a tight-knit society based on extended families, or clans, guided by a council of elders. These clans, which traditionally lived together in a single village, are called “taips.” (Radio Free Europe. Hat-tip: Mark Weiner)

The Boston attack illustrates two recent themes on this blog: Stereotypes are true and Clannism strikes again.

Plus, they follow the recent pattern of being (thankfully) incompetent. Recent terrorists and would-be terrorists in the US have been, in John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart’s words, “incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational and foolish.”*

The reaction:

No great surprise here either, alas. Like most recent attacks the response was full of delusional, overwrought reporting by the media, and gross overreaction by the authorities.

T. Greer puts it well:

Boston was turned into a prison to catch a 19 year old who killed three people. Lets put this in perspective: every year an average of 115 people are murdered in the Boston Metro. [3]That is roughly one murder every three days. Living in Boston’s lower income “ghettos” I was acutely aware of this fact. I befriended many people whose friends and family members were the victims of gang warfare. Their deaths brought no manhunts. … the fearful and extreme response of the American government and her people are disgraceful, fit for a nation of sheep, not citizens.


John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, The Terrorism Delusion: America’s Overwrought Response to September 11, International Security, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Summer 2012), pp. 81–110. (ungated pdf here)


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