Against Panic Policy
Part of the perverse power of terrorism is that it induces panic-mode decision making. Its target tends to follow this logic:
Something must be done.
This is something.
Therefore this must be done.
- for any value of “this”!
But I warn against making any significant policy changes directly in response to dramatic events. That is because such changes are usually either honest-but-stupid or smart-but-crooked.
In the first case it’s because the response is passionate and sincere but unconsidered and therefore counter-productive; in the second case it’s because the response was carefully crafted prior to the dramatic event, and therefore not really in response to it, but instead serves other interests that do not bear well under public scrutiny.
Or, to put it in a nutshell:
Panic Policy is either foolish or crooked.
Therefore one should try to ignore dramatic events. I say ‘try’ because of course some events are too dramatic to ignore. But I think one should in general make the effort.
I realize that my plea for coolness under stress is a ‘conservative’ one, if you use the non-Orwellian definition of the word ‘conservative’.