As you likely are too, I’m watching conversations unfold among friends on Facebook and in real life about the terrorist attack in San Bernardino and what the United States should be doing in response. Depending on your point of view, the argument is framed as one between American values and bigotry or political correctness and getting tough on radical Islam. Admittedly, these are extreme formulations, in each case using one side’s caricature of the other. But all of this ignores the central conundrum we face when we think about counter-terrorism, especially ones of the lone wolf variety or even more organized ones like the recent massacre in Paris.
The kinds of surveillance and scrutiny which inevitably fall on suspect populations as part of a heightened counter-terrorism posture are exactly the kinds of strictures which over time are likely to create the kind of social isolation and alienation which seems, from the evidence we have from Europe, to create a breeding ground for radicalization. So getting the balance right is very difficult. And this is entirely apart from the very legitimate and pressing discussion about what policies are American values and our constitution will or should allow. Throw all of that out the window and you’ve still got a very complex balancing act on your hands. (read the rest here)