Harbinger or Aberration?: A 9/11 Provocation

The attacks on Washington and New York were the first of their kind; they may also be the last. A case against rushing to conclusions.

Issue: Fall 2002

The terror attack of September 11, 2001 was quite literally off the charts: no other single act of terrorism has ever done remotely as much damage. Over the course of the entire 20th century, fewer than twenty terrorist attacks managed to kill as many as one hundred people, and none killed more than four hundred. Until September of last year, far more Americans were killed in any given grouping of years by lightning than by all forms of international terrorism combined. Of course, such data beg the central question of the post-9/11 world: Will we revert to the relatively benign levels of the past, or have we really entered a new and nasty era?

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