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Fear mongering isn’t limited to one end of the political spectrum ...

Where progressive politicians and conservative politicians differ is on what they use to evoke fear and who they try to make afraid. To see progressive fear mongering all you have to do is look at how Global Warming (or Climate Change) is being sold to people ... The most extreme projections from a variety of questionable studies are cherry picked to create the feeling of immanent doom so that people will accept massive changes without question.

 

Back to the OP ... While a nuclear strike in the United States would be awful, I don't think that terrorists really need to go to such extremes to get the kind of reaction they want. Most cities in North America have critical infrastructure (like the electrical power grids) which can be knocked out using a stick of dynamite or a simple denial of service attack ... If this was timed correctly (right as a long deep-freeze started) and was well planned widespread fear could be built quite easily.