I can easily see either side of this. The picture, I guess, is complicated enough that there are elements that should worry us and elements that should give us some solace.
In the worry category:
- that the younger brother was easily turned from a pretty decent life as a middling student with plenty of friends to an ally of his more messed up brother.
- that it only took two self-radicalized folks to disrupt the life of a city for nearly a week
- that despite their obvious cognitive limitations, they were able to build a bunch of bombs that mostly worked
- that they might not have been caught so soon if they were not such, well, idiots.
In the solace category:
- the Boston medical and first responder community was so competent that all of the patients that reached the hospitals alive survived
- that the terrorists would tracked down and contained within about 100 hours--the same amount of time it took the US to defeat Iraq in 1991. We tend to be an impatient people, but that is some fast work.
- that perhaps brighter folks are less likely to do this kind of thing because they are smart enough to sense that they would get caught, that maybe it ain't worth it, that maybe the US really is not at war with Islam even if it is in wars in Muslim countries (Bosnia, Libya are essentially pro-Muslim interventions, right?), and so on. I guess there are plenty of smart folks who are radicalized, but they may still be deterred.
- perhaps more older brothers are not so messed up as to get their brothers involved in something so self-destructive.