The Incredible Shrinking Terrorist Threat

I mailed Jim Henley the other day some thoughts that I almost posted here, but I've been kind of lazy about posting. Anyway, he saved me the trouble and posted them as part of his mailbag response. Go read it there. Jim asks,
why don't America's terrorist enemies apply the 'Israel model' to strikes against the US? Is it because they don't think it will do any good, or because they don't have the resources to mount a sustained campaign?
I think the answer to that is sort of both, sort of neither. Terrorists (and "freedom fighters") are utility maximizers; they strike where they think they'll do the most good relative to the cost to them. Costs here are not necessarily their lives, which they hold cheap; but the difficulty of getting the physical goods (explosives, weapons, etc.) for the operation, and the difficulty of getting physical access to the scene of the operation.

The place where it is cheap to strike is among sympathetic people, and close to home, and where security procedures are lax. The USA is apparently not generating political terrorists from among our home-grown Arab-Americans. So there is nobody who wants to strike here for whom it is the home field. Clearly, Arab terrorists are going to find it easiest to pull off operations where there are lots of Arabs. On the supply side, "security" measures do affect terrorism at the margins. Sure, the USA has instituted a lot of mickey-mouse bullshit security since 9/11. But I'd wager not all of it is completely worthless; and if most of it is vile from a libertarian perspective it still may "work" from a myopic security POV.

"Security" is a microcosm of the entire War on Terra. Short term fix for problems we caused, which will result in long-term problems. Both fit exactly into the paradigm of creeping socialism. Social control is like squeezing a balloon - pass a law to squeeze it in here, it "unexpectedly" pops out there, and you need another law; repeat until everyone lives their life chained in a padded room watching only PBS.

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