What is the greatest threat to the United States? This question has plagued politicians and American voters for centuries and has led to public debates and open forums in our nation. While there are many threats in the world, I would venture to say that the greatest threat to the United States is not terrorism directly, but the reactions to terrorism. The goal of international terrorism is to strike fear in a society that will bring about a desired change in that society.
This isn't a new development in the world, but one that is as old as man itself. Ancient armies would surround and lay siege to cities with the desire of taking and looting the city. To achieve this goal the army laying siege might cut off supplies to the city in hopes the society within will allow the attackers in to avoid starvation. Again, the goal of terrorism was to use fear (in this case starvation) to achieve a goal.
So what is the goal of modern terrorism, specifically radical Islamic terrorism? If we assume the age-old reasons for the use of terrorism we can conclude that radical Islamic terrorism wishes to use fear to bring about change; but what change? Do they wish to see the democratic nations fall? What does it mean for a democratic nation to fall; what does that even look like?
If we assume that the cornerstone of democratic nations are based on the freedom of the people to live freely under democratic governments charged with protecting those freedoms, then what does the fall of such a nation mean? Does it mean less freedom for the people? Does it mean the people in a democratic society have less of a say in the democratic process? If this is true then I would say the greatest threat to the United States isn't what terrorists do to the nation, but what we allow to happen to the nation ourselves.
If we as a nation continue to allow the very freedoms we hold dear to be limited in the name of combating terrorism, have the terrorists achieved their goal of bringing about change in our society through fear? If our nation continues to make decisions about foreign policy without the consent of the people, have the people been cut out of the democratic process allowing terrorist to achieve their goal of bringing about change in our society?
We as the American people should be asking these questions and more of ourselves and our government. We the people have many questions, its time for some answers.