The recent news from the UK suggests that the threat of terrorist attacks is going to be with us for a fair while to come. Still, as a relatively frequent air traveller, I can’t say I’m too concerned by the news. The terrorists have managed to generate a barely observable increase in my (and everyone else’s) risk of death while travelling, and have now achieved a further marginal increase in the associated stress and inconvenience.
What scares me is the possibility that terrorists could get hold of nuclear weapons. Even a small atomic bomb could be a hundred times worse than all the attacks of recent years put together. Yet it doesn’t seem as if the threat is getting anything like the resources it merits. Of course, the biggest danger is that the bombs already made by Pakistan will get into the hands of someone linked to Al Qaeda, of whom there are plenty still in positions of power and could be more if Musharraf goes. There’s no easy way to reduce this threat. But a modest expenditure could help to buy up the enriched uranium, weapons systems and disgruntled scientists still floating around the former Soviet Union. I’d be a lot happier if I saw some evidence of this actually happening.