Notes Book

Terrorism Report

State Department Secretary Powell is “not a happy camper” about the departments recently released terrorism report. That makes two of us, at least.

No doubt our reasons for being unhappy with the report are quite different because our definitions of terrorism are different. Powell discounts terror created by state officials. In my view, that eliminates the majority of the terrorism on the planet.

But a “real” report on terrorism would be quite useful. It might lead to developing real strategies for actually reducing terror. The reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are helpful, but they don't give any numbers. They point out that the government of this or that country is doing terrible things, but then all governments do terrible things.

I would like to see a report with some statistics. The world prison population report is great. You can get it from

As the authors describe, the statistics given suffer from flaws, but at least there is an attempt at objective measurement. If you judge by prison statistics, the US is the world's most repressive nation. To me this is a better index than the fact that we have the word “freedom” written on several ancient pieces of paper.

A report that included prison population, size of armies, levels of taxation, crime statistics, number of people employed by governments, home ownership, and self-employment levels would be a good start. I'm sure there are other statistics that would be relevant. Statistics are not an answer to the problem of human violence, but they could at least bring a greater level of objectivity to the discussion.

The greatest concentration of terror occurs in wars, of course. Anyone who thinks he can reduce the amount of terror in the world by killing large numbers of people is clearly delusional. When he also thinks it is reasonable to rob even larger numbers of people at the point of a gun to finance a “war on terror” it merely provides supporting evidence for the diagnosis.

The fact that there are large numbers of people who suffer from this delusion does not call into doubt the diagnosis. It does point out that the human race is suffering from a crisis because large numbers of humans lack the ability or the inclination to reason correctly.

A real terrorism report would not consist of the pot calling the kettle black, but would measure the incidence of “terrorism”, “crime”, “government”, or what ever else you want to call predatory behavior in all societies using the same objective criteria fairly applied to all peoples regardless of what “official positions” they hold or what pieces of paper they are carrying.

That would be a good first step in implementing a society that could truly minimize violence.