Like it or not, two half-educated and young killers, at the expense of a few hundred dollars and one dead, with very little capital, shut down an entire city, committed mass mayhem, ruined the lives of hundreds, destroyed the Boston Marathon, and cost the city billions of dollars. But for the chance scans of video cameras, the Tsarnaevs might well have let off more bombs and turned their terror of a day into far greater mayhem of a week. That lesson is not lost on jihadists. To the degree they can enthuse another Tamerlan Tsarnaev in Chechnya or reach a Major Hasan at a mosque or on the Internet, they will continue. I expect more al-Qaedism.
Drones, fairly or not, are now branded as a convenient way to kill a few hundred terrorist suspects without bothering the American people, but they also put us to sleep about radical Islam by making it out of sight, out of mind. The next phases of the war will probably be fought on American soil, waged by al-Qaedists rather than al-Qaeda. Video cameras and good police work may prevent some terrorism. But ultimately we need to change the landscape of the American mind, and try honesty instead of therapy about the nature of the danger.
I would also look very carefully at immigration policy. Is America so short of manpower that we need a Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his brother, his mother, or his father in the United States?
Would not more frequent denial into the U.S. prompt more respect for America than does near pro forma entry? Would not the free use of words like “terrorism” and “Islamist” again convey better the image of a confident society that cares not what jihadists or their supporters think than does worry over offending those who hate us?