Posted by Brad @ 8:53 pm on March 1st 2013

Threat Inflation

James Fallows has kind of an interesting, rueful reflection on the Iraq War (very shortly here, 10 years old) and the lessons he’s learned from it. One caught my eye as worth pulling out and just, you know, noting.

As I think about it this war and others the U.S. has contemplated or entered during my conscious life, I realize how strong is the recurrent pattern of threat inflation. Exactly once in the post-WW II era has the real threat been more ominous than officially portrayed. That was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the world really came within moments of nuclear destruction.

Otherwise: the “missile gap.” The Gulf of Tonkin. The overall scale of the Soviet menace. Iraq. In each case, the public soberly received official warnings about the imminent threat. In cold retrospect, those warnings were wrong — or contrived, or overblown, or misperceived. Official claims about the evils of these systems were many times justified. Claims about imminent threats were most of the times hyped.

1 Comment »

  1. The overall scale of the Soviet menace was overhyped?

    Says a guy who also says the Cuban Missile Crisis was underplayed?

    Comment by Rojas — 3/2/2013 @ 2:09 am

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