Since Osama bin Laden’s death, news reports have pointed to various analyses showing that the United States has spent trillions of dollars fighting wars and swelling the nation’s security apparatus because of the former al Qaeda leader. And on top of that, Bloomberg reported yesterday that the American taxpayer will be footing the bill for some time to come. Last night on CNN, psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz, whom host Eliot Spitzer called “our resident expert in all matters psychological,” identified a contributing factor to this enormous debt:
SALTZ: I would also say that we have to turn this around and think about how fear, which — I mean, they are afraid and that’s causing them to do some irrational things, but fear has also caused us to do some irrational things. So we were made very afraid about the terrorists, but if you think about the number people who died in 9/11, it is much smaller, say, than the number of people all the time in car accidents, in heart disease, in cancer. But we have spent $5 trillion in the past decade because of our fear about 9/11. Now that’s not a very rational thing to do.
Saltz also addressed the common proclivity for Americans to portray the struggle against al Qaeda as a “war” along with using the accompanying rhetoric. “Loud statements of, ‘We’re going to come get you and we’re going to humiliate you’ essentially only serve to form group dynamics to be tighter,” she said, adding that by disallowing al Qaida terrorists to engage in a “war” doesn’t leave them with a whole lot to do:
SALTZ: Essentially sitting in your safe house drinking tea and not having adventures is very boring. And that seems to be what makes terrorists disperse. To be honest, that is what makes them leave the group.