What do you worry about?

2 September 2006, 2115 EDT

It’s Saturday afternoon and I have strep throat. I’m not at the APSA convention for the Labor Day weekend, but I can still be a geek: I just watched a large portion of a panel on C-SPAN 2 featuring Peter Beinart of The New Republic, paleo-con Reaganite Lawrence Korb, Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker, and neocon William Kristol of The Weekly Standard.

Towards the very end, Kristol made a point about how Democrats and Republicans see America’s foreign policy priorities — and security threats — differently. He cited a public opinion poll finding that Republicans focused on the traditional issues (the panel had just been talking about whether a nuclear-Iran could be deterred), while Dems care more about issues like AIDS.

What Kristol didn’t report: Worldwide, nearly 40 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS (2005 data)

About 2.8 million died prematuraly of AIDS in 2005, though the estimated range was 2.4 to 3.3 million.

How many people have died from terrorism altogether in the past year? In the past century?

The AP reported on a RAND study covering roughly the same period (March 2004 to March 2005) that calculated nearly 5400 deaths from terrorism worldwide.

I’m not saying that security policymakers ought to drop all their traditional concerns, but I do think it is perfectly reasonable to arrange priorities based on the reality of threats.

Previously, on my own blog, I’ve cited research estimating that 18,000 Americans die annually from lack of health care — and nearly 3000 people die for each 1% increase in unemployment.

Maybe weapons, war and terrorism are just sexier threats (though this is not a universally held view)?

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