Ted Koppel and Terrorism

ted-koppelOn the Wall Street Journal op-ed page (8/7/13), veteran TV journalist Ted Koppel says it’s time to stop overreacting to the threat of terrorism:

Terrorism, after all, is designed to produce overreaction. It is the means by which the weak induce the powerful to inflict damage upon themselves—and al Qaeda and groups like it are surely counting on that as the centerpiece of their strategy.

It appears to be working. Right now, 19 American embassies and a number of consulates and smaller diplomatic outposts are closed for the week due to the perceived threat of attacks against U.S. targets. Meantime, the U.S. has launched drone strikes on al Qaeda fighters in Yemen.

  He goes on to argue:

We have created an economy of fear, an industry of fear, a national psychology of fear. Al Qaeda could never have achieved that on its own. We have inflicted it on ourselves.


There is always the nightmare of terrorists acquiring and using a weapon of mass destruction. But nothing would give our terrorist enemies greater satisfaction than that we focus obsessively on that remote possibility, and restrict our lives and liberties accordingly.

It’s hard to argue with any of  that.

But it reminded me of an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times (10/2/06) that argued that the United States should ease up on sanctions on Iran–but only if we announced that we had a new Iran policy:

But this should also be made clear to Tehran: If a dirty bomb explodes in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a nuclear “accident,” Iran should understand that the United States government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran.

OK–so the right way to deal with the threat of terrorism is to announce that the U.S. response to any act of terrorism anywhere will be to attack Iran.

Who wrote this?  Ted Koppel. Either his analysis is evolving, or he believes that threatening to unleash massive unprovoked military attacks on another country is not terrorism.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.