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Can we declare the war on terrorism over?

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This week terrorism continued its descent from the greatest, scariest threat known to man to its proper place in the order of things: A bloody tactic that is as old as man and that is declining in frequency as most other forms of violence are.

The National Counterterrorism Center's annual report for 2011 was released on Tuesday and what it points to is a less violent (though still plenty violent) world. Total "terrorist" attacks fell 12 percent from the previous year and are down 29 percent from 2007, which the center says is a five year low. There were over 10,000 attacks classified by the government as terrorism across the world last year, claiming 12,500 lives. None of them were in the US, and three-quarters of the fatalities were in just four countries: Afghanistan (3,353), Iraq (3,063), Pakistan (2,033), and Somalia (1,101).

The cost in American lives? The report says 17 American "private citizens" were killed in terrorist incidents last year, 15 in Afghanistan and one each in Jerusalem and in Iraq. Though the report doesn't say, it's safe to assume the US citizens killed in Afghanistan were mostly aid workers or private contractors. Not to say they deserved what happen to them, but that these were people who placed themselves in a war zone (much as reporters do) fully aware of the risks. Trouble didn't come looking for them. The number of American's killed in terrorist attacks in 2010? 15.

As Micah Zenko points out, between 2000 and 2010 an average of 29 US citizens were killed each year by falling televisions, dressers, and other household furnishings. Yet we haven't declared war on the killer flat-screens rampaging through the heartland.


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