Editor’s note: Stephen Flynn is founding co-director of the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security and a professor of political science at Northeastern University. The views expressed are his own.
The twin bombings at the Boston marathon and the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers captivated the nation last week. Nearly a dozen years after 9/11, a great American city was once again under attack. The response by Bostonians was to care for the wounded, support efforts by law enforcement to identify and apprehend the culprits, and take back their lives. As Fenway Park roared back to live on Saturday, fans armed with “Boston Strong” signs, cheered on their home team who had swapped out “Red Sox” for “Boston” on their uniforms.
The people of Boston have shown the nation how to cope with the new face of terrorism.
“Boston is a tough and resilient town,” President Barack Obama rightly observed, and resilience is the critical ingredient for confronting this ongoing risk. Terrorism’s primary appeal for an adversary is its potential to cause the targeted society to overreact in costly, disruptive, and self-destructive ways. So when an attack is met with fearlessness, selflessness, and competence, it fails. The British and Israelis have learned this lesson and practice it. As an Israeli friend reminded me shortly after the bombs went off on the finish line of the Boston marathon: “The most effective way to cope (with) and to beat terror is to return as fast as you can to routine.”