Ashland Center for Nonviolence Speaker to Discuss ‘The Cost of Fear’

Ashland Center for Nonviolence Speaker to Discuss ‘The Cost of Fear’

9/11/12 ASHLAND, Ohio -- National security threats, of great concern to the general public especially since September 11, 2001, are inflated by politicians and by the “terrorism industry,” according to John Mueller, professor of political science at The Ohio State University, and the second speaker in The Cost of War symposium sponsored by the Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University.

His presentation, "Code Red: The Cost of Fear," will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the Ronk Lecture Hall of the Schar College of Education on the Ashland University campus.  It is free and open to the public.

Mueller argues that acts of terrorism are designed to encourage over-reaction in terms of psychological responses and use of resources; that is what the terrorists hope will happen. Political figures and those businesses that can profit from supplying security devices make use of that heightened sense of fear to further their own ends.

In a 2005 article, Mueller contends that “the inspiration of consequent overreaction seems central to bin Laden’s strategy. As he put it mockingly in a videotaped message in 2004, it is ‘easy for us to provoke and bait. . . All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin . . . to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses.’”

Mueller goes on to say, “Bin Laden’s policy, he extravagantly believe[d], [was] one of ‘bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy,’ and it is one that depends on overreaction by the target:  [Bin Laden] triumphally points to the fact that the September 11 terrorist attacks cost Al Qaeda $500,000 while the attack and its aftermath inflicted, he claims, a cost of more than $500 billion on the United States.”

Mueller acknowledges that there will, at times, be credible threats, so he argues for alternative policies to over-reacting and lashing out without good, substantial planning. Policies that would set the likelihood of a terrorist attack in an accurate context would lessen general fear and would encourage citizens to be more responsive when a heightened alert is warranted, for example.

Mueller is Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies, Mershon Center, The Ohio State University.  He is the author several books about war, terrorism and responses to these events. Among his books are “The Remnants of War” (2004); “Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them” (2006); “Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda” (2010) and “Terror, Security and Money: Balancing the Risks, Costs and Benefits of Homeland Security” (2011).

Mueller was a guest of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show in 2006 when “Overblown” was published. The book will be available for purchase at the Sept. 18 presentation.

The third and final presentation in The Cost of War symposium will be Thursday, Oct. 4. The format will be a forum with participation encouraged by those in attendance. The title is “National Issues Forum – A Nation in Debt: How Can We Pay the Bills?” It will begin at 7 p.m. in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium at Ashland University.

A short video researched and developed by National Issues Forum, will explain three possible solutions to the national debt. Then there will be a moderated discussion on the benefits and trade-offs of each solution. Recorded comments be available online and will be sent to Ashland’s legislators. 

National Issues Forums (NIF) is a network of civic, educational and other organizations, and individuals, whose common interest is to promote public deliberation in America. It has grown to include thousands of civic clubs, religious organizations, libraries, schools, and many other groups that meet to discuss critical public issues.

This program is sponsored by The Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University, located on the AU campus. The Center seeks a world in which human conflict at all levels can be resolved without resorting to violence and in which social justice can be realized. For more information about this event, or to learn more about the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, please call 419-289-5313 or visit the website at

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###