What Terrorists Want

Bruce Schneier, lucid as ever, hits the nail on the head about what it is the terrorists want:

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want.

He also makes points similar to the post I made right after the arrests in Britain:

In truth, it's doubtful that their plan would have succeeded; chemists have been debunking the idea since it became public. Certainly the suspects were a long way off from trying: None had bought airline tickets, and some didn't even have passports.

Regardless of the threat, from the would-be bombers' perspective, the explosives and planes were merely tactics. Their goal was to cause terror, and in that they've succeeded.

One point Schneier either doesn't yet get or avoids mentioning when he says "Our politicians help the terrorists every time they use fear as a campaign tactic" is that the aims of the terrorists and our politicians are frequently aligned: both want us scared. Neither wants the other gone because politicians who don't push fear on their subjects would negate the efforts of the terrorists and without terrorists how would the fearmongering politicians keep expanding their power? The War on Terror is not just a war they can't win, it's a war they don't want to win.

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