Statistically, which is the greater risk of killing Americans — terrorists or drunks driving on our highways? Answer: Drunks kill more than 2,000 Americans on our highways each year. How about the risk between terrorists and going into an American hospital? Answer: In-hospital deaths from medical errors stand at 195,000 per year. That's right. Sixty-five times more Americans die each year from medical malpractice in our hospitals than died on 9/11. Which deserves to be the bigger boogeyman — terrorists or hospital administrators?
It is imperative to the Bush administration that Americans not be allowed to put this terrorist threat into perspective, for if they do, our policy toward terrorists will become precisely what they do not want it to become: a matter for police and intelligence agencies instead of military expansion. This is why, at every turn, they demonize their critics for calling for a police approach to terrorism. A police approach does not justify military expansion overseas.
Remember, these White House officials' biggest criticism of the Clinton administration, and their greatest fear after the end of the Cold War, was downsizing our military and its global superpower status — as if the U.S. could ever lose its position as the greatest military power on earth, with its nuclear and smart bomb arsenals. This is precisely why Rumsfeld's strategy is so completely irrational. America could cut its military spending tomorrow by 75 percent and remain the world's military superpower.
We are more than amply equipped to militarily defend our nation. What we will never be equipped to do is fight other nations' civil wars, as in Viet Nam and Iraq. Much bigger threats than Islamic-terrorists loom, however.
The combination of our growing national debt and entitlement spending is probably the greatest threat our future faces, economically. Global warming is another. Regional water scarcity looms as a huge problem facing as many as one-fourth of our American population in years just ahead.
The rising competitive economies of China, Malaysia, India, and the former Eastern European bloc countries all loom as potential threats to our American way of work life should we fail to adapt to their growing competitive advantages. All these problems are complex, difficult, and require multi-faceted, sophisticated responses and solutions.