[FoRK] Death by terrorism (was: on fear) (Out of Office)

Regina Schuman rschuman
Fri Aug 12 09:07:55 PDT 2005

I'll be out of the office Friday, August 12 and returning Monday, August
15.   If you need immediate assistance, please call Renie Levin at
394-5720 or e-mail her at rlevin at jfcsjax.org.

Geege Schuman

>>> fork 08/12/05 12:05 >>>

Stephen D. Williams wrote:

> [...] In terms of exposure to danger, crossing the street, taking the 
> subway, and even eating are all far more likely, in my estimation, to 
> kill you than an act of terrorism.

Taking a _very_ liberal interpretation of 'death by terrorism,' it 
doesn't really make more than a blip on the radar screen (if that) when 
compared to other dangers. Note that there is a significant difficulty 
in compiling this sort of data, depending on what definitions you care 
to use. Regardless of how liberal a stance you take, however, the 
numbers are really small when compared to other, more casual, causes of 
death. In fact, even if you use the broadest definitions possible, the 
numbers pale in comparison to other figures. For example, a 1996 report 
estimated that there are approzimately 7600 deaths per year due to NSAID

overdoses. . . Deaths in the US alone from adverse reactions to 
prescription drugs, alcohol, car accidents, firearm accidents, etc. are 
all significantly higher than the number of *worldwide* deaths from 
terrorism. (I'll only mention tobacco parenthetically in an attempt to 
avoid reigniting the 'nicotine leads to cancer' discussion but tobacco 
related deaths in the US are several orders of magnitude higher than 
worldwide terrorist related deaths, to say nothing about worldwide 
tobacco deaths, estimated to be in the /millions/.)

All of which simply begs the question: Why are we spending such a 
disproportionate amount of money on 'The War on Terrorism'? Note that 
the body count for coalition forces in Iraq is better than 2/3 the 
number of people who dies in the WTC attacks, and even the most 
conservative estimates of the number of civilian causualties in Iraq is 
at least an order of magnitude higher. . . and if we include all of 
these deaths into the 'death by terrorism' count (perhaps an absurd 
interpretation, but allowed for the sake of argument), we still have a 
number that pales in comparison to the estimated number of deaths in the

US related to poor diet and physical inactivity. Again, to say nothing 
about tobacco. . .

Where is the 'War on Aspirin' or the 'War on AIDS'? The 'War on Cancer'?

'War on Poor Nutrition'? I tell you, our priorities seem pretty fucked 
up. I often wonder how different the world would be if we had spent 400 
billion dollars over the last four years on beneficient causes such as 
providing clean drinking water and medical supplies to third world 
nations or combating the spread of HIV in africa or converted a portion 
of our armed forces to 'peace forces' that undertook public works 
projects in developing nations. . . to say nothing of the countless 
domestic issues that could benefit. . . Quite simply, the opportunity 
costs associated with the 'War on Terrorism' are very troubling to say 
the least.

Do have a look at some of the references below to get a sense of the 
numbers, and consider where we should be putting all this eneregy. 
Fighting and defending against terrorism seems a terrible waste when 
compared to the other ills of the world.


[1] 4 Decades of Worldwide Terrorism, 
[2] Patterns of Global Terrorism - Library - National Memorial Institute

for the Prevention of Terrorism, 
[3] Deaths in World Trade Center Terrorist Attacks, 
[4] Terrorism Deaths in Israel - 1920-1999, 
[5] Death rates from terrorism, USA and Israel, 
[6] National Center for Health Statistics - Leading Causes of Death, 
[7] Causes of Death, <http://www.benbest.com/lifeext/causes.html>
[8] Drug War Fact: Annual Causes of Death in the United States, 
[9] Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003 - Appendix G: Statistical Review, 
[10] Casualties in Iraq, <http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/>
[11] Iraq Coalition Casualties, <http://icasualties.org/oif/>
[12] Worldwide trends in tobacco consumption and mortality, 

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