Sure, that probably sounds insane. How in the world could Norway know anything about fighting terrorism, right?
Maybe not. With the recent shooting in Colorado, there has been some mention of the terrorist in Norway that rocked that nation about a year ago. Unlike the U.S., Norway did not pass sweeping legislation, and radically increase security. Their solution was increased transparency and democracy.
While I am not in the least bit interested in, or impressed with the “love in”, warm and fuzzy attitude of Norway’s leaders, I am intrigued with the concept of the full-frontal assault on terrorism without raising a weapon. They recognized something that we didn’t, at least not immediately, after 9/11. Maybe Norway wouldn’t have taken the route they did if it wasn’t for our losses, but I digress.
Instead of acting on fear, Norway chose to stick to its principles, and refuse to give in to that base emotion. And that is, from a psychological point of view, arguably the best response to a terrorist attack. Acts of terror are perpetrated to instill fear. If the target doesn’t respond in a fearful manner, the terrorist does not truly succeed, regardless of what physical damage was caused.
Al Qaeda’s real victory over the U.S. wasn’t on the day of the attacks. It was when our Congress passed the Patriot Act, and when we stopped living our lives the way we had before 9/11. We lost part of our identity as a nation because of that, and we may never be able to retrieve that. But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn from Norway now.
There have been many complaints and investigations over the past several months about the incompetency and overreaching of the TSA, for example. Is the screening that we subject ourselves to really necessary? I know there are plenty out there that would argue that it is. But there are those on the other side that say the screenings really do not do much to protect us.
While I’m not saying that the U.S. could ever approach terrorism exactly the way Norway has, I do think that we need to examine the psychology behind their choices. We need to re-examine our priorities when it comes to national security, and terrorism. With an administration that hasn’t been very good at plugging intelligence leaks, ironically enough we are presented with a unique opportunity. We can look at least a few of our choices when it comes to “making America safe from terrorism”, and weigh their real value. Are they really worth surrendering certain freedoms? Or would dispensing with those measures be the better choice?
The big question for us is the same one Norway faced. Is just feeling safer worth surrendering even an ounce of freedom as we have for past decade? Are we really any safer, and is our “increased security” hurting us more than it is helping us? This is not about threat assessment. That is another issue. This is about weighing our current (false?) sense of security versus giving terrorists the satisfaction that they have made us change our way of life because of them. Is walking through airport security barefoot worth it anymore? Are the intrusive groping sessions making us safer, or just disgusted and humiliated? Are we daily giving terrorists their jollies by jumping through insane hoops? And, perhaps even more important than all of that, are we surrendering too many personal liberties, and too much privacy to allow the government to investigate “potential terror threats”? Norway has shown it is possible to move on after suffering a terrorist attack without surrendering freedoms. If they can do it, why can’t we?