TCS Daily

An Anti-Terrorism Defense Fund

By James D. Miller - January 5, 2004 12:00 AM

"The terrorists will seek to convince American voters that the War on Terror is failing, paving the way for the electoral victory of a weakling and allowing them to surge back into vacuums created by an American retreat. Their last, desperate hope will be to hit us so hard that we elect a coward in place of a hero." -- Ralph Peters

A pre-election terrorist surprise would allow our enemies to take revenge against President Bush. Terrorists might hope to use our democratic freedoms against us by creating an environment that electorally favors Bush's militarily less aggressive Democratic opponent. To counter this threat, supporters of Bush's reelection should create an anti-terror Bush defense fund to negate the electoral incentives for our enemies to inflict a pre-election terror attack. Such a fund should raise millions of dollars that would go toward pro-Bush advertisements if, but only if, terrorists interfere in our elections.

The eventual Democratic presidential candidate will probably claim that Bush has not adequately succeeded in protecting America from terrorism. Terrorists, hoping for Bush's defeat, could help the Democratic candidate prove his argument by striking the U.S. shortly before the 2004 presidential elections.

Since terrorism will likely dominate the 2004 election issue environment, it would be a monstrous perversion of democracy for the Democratic candidate to refrain from criticizing Bush's handling of this issue because he feared such criticism might invite new attacks.

Rather than expecting the Democratic nominee to self-censor, Bush's supporters should act to undo the electoral harm the President would suffer in the event of a pre-election terrorist attack. Some very well-known pro-Republican leader or organization should collect money for a Bush terrorist defense fund. If there were a significant terrorist attack on America within, say, five months of the November 2004 elections, then all the money raised would be used to run commercials in support of Bush. If, however, no pre-election attack occurred then the money would go to some worthy but non-controversial charity such as cancer research. If $20 million or more could be raised for the fund then the terrorists would know that any pre-election attack would increase the chance of Bush winning re-election.

The fund would not only allow free Americans to counteract the electoral incentives terrorists have to attack, but it would also make it more patriotically acceptable for the Democratic nominee to disparage Bush's homeland security policy. With an anti-terror defense fund in place, the Democratic nominee wouldn't have to worry that his criticisms of Bush would create incentives for terrorists to strike

The main problem with the defense fund idea is that it would appear unseemly to some for Bush to receive campaign contributions conditional on American deaths. If terrorists believe that the activation of the fund would itself politically harm Bush, then the fund's existence wouldn't deter terrorism. Consequently, none of the defense fund should ever go to Bush or the Republican Party but rather should be controlled by some independent group that would stress that it was spending the money not to help Bush, but rather to offset terrorist interference in our elections. Ideally, the Democratic nominee would support the defense fund, perhaps realizing that it's better for him if campaign contributions went into this fund than directly to Bush.

For articles presenting analogous anti-terrorism mechanisms see:

Stopping Eco-Terrorism and

Saudi Terror Insurance.

James D. Miller writes The Game Theorist column for TCS and is the author of Game Theory at Work.


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