Monday, December 11, 2006


I started reading Overblown and had to put it down. There were too many dodgy arguments for me. I came out feeling much like David Bell in TNR's Open University, a good idea overwhelmed by annoyances. The idea is that the terrorist threat is far smaller than we reckon and that it is kept alive by those with an interest in keeping it alive. He brings up the statistic of how many people are killed each year on the highways and then notes how unlikely people are to be killed in a terrorist attack. Well people are unlikely to be killed by hurricanes either but that doesn't mean if you live in a coastal zone, you shouldn't be concerned. Like Bell, what really did me in was Mueller's bizarre recommendation that after Pearl Harbor the US would have been better off pursuing a policy of containment against Japan. That's right, the whole fleet gets destroyed and the US should "contain" the Japanese. Bizarre really. He goes on to talk about Vietnam, the Rise of the Communists in China, and how the US would have been better off with the Japanese running Asia. You may as well argue that we should have let the Nazis kill all the Jews so that we wouldn't have all this Mid-east unpleasantness.

Anyway, I think his overall argument, that the terrorist threat is overstated, is a worthwhile one. I suppose you could skip all the wierd parts and just read the policy recommendations. For some more positive non-fiction recommendations have a look at Kevin Drum's list.


Steve said...

Love the Nazi analogy, although you should be careful - it is the new "N" word.

Tripp said...

A tad tasteless of me, but it I needed something ridiculous. Don't worry Steve you call the Bushies Nazis if you want.