Finally, a fifth figment about terrorism is that it works. In an analysis of 457 terrorist campaigns since 1968, George Mason University political scientist Audrey Cronin found that not one extremist group conquered a state and that a full 94 percent failed to gain even one of their strategic goals. Her 2009 book is entitled How Terrorism Ends (Princeton University Press). It ends swiftly (groups survive eight years on average) and badly (the death of its leaders).
We must be vigilant always, of course, but these myths point to the inexorable conclusion that terrorism is nothing like what its perpetrators wish it were.
This article was originally published with the title Five Myths of Terrorism.