I wrote this in 2007. It’s still my view on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks:
Illusory threats, if not recognized as such, can provoke reactions far more costly and dangerous than the threats themselves. And when leaders deliberately exaggerate threats to create fear for political purposes, the success of such adversaries is enhanced further.
Such successes are not inevitable. Wise leaders do have the option of responding to vulnerabilities by honestly acknowledging the fact that Americans, like any other people who enjoy an open society, will always be vulnerable to terrorism and to the actions of rogue states. A responsible democratic government should act to minimize these threats, particularly when they involve potentially catastrophic outcomes, but innovation, resilience and adaptability are ultimately the most powerful tools to counter them. When political leaders and private citizens band together to cultivate technology, cut through red tape and build the capacity for response and recovery at home, lasting security may be achieved even under the shadow of persistent threats from abroad.
Full essay is here.