Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fighting Terrorism

One of my favorite new sources of information is a site called "Barking up the wrong tree," which appears to be written by someone who spends all his time looking through recently published research and abstracts to report to us, as he says, "just the interesting stuff." He recently reported from the Copenhagen Census on the subject of whether it is worth it to combat terrorism with anti-terrorism measures:

Three of the five “solutions” proposed here – business-as-usual, increased proactive responses, and enhanced defensive measures – have very adverse benefit-cost ratios under a wide range of scenarios, even when the most promising assumptions are invoked. The most effective solutions are the cheapest, but they must overcome the greatest obstacles that require either greater international cooperation or more sensitive and farsighted policymaking. Such qualities seldom characterize rich countries’ actions.

It's been my suspicion that the best way to react to acts of terrorism is to treat it like a natural disaster (and no, oil rig explosions don't count as "natural"). We should react quickly and maturely to help those in need and repair any damage done, but any large-scale response demonstrating fear of terrorists tends to justify that method of getting one's point across – and is also about as effective as attempting to stop all earthquakes or hurricanes.

It's possible the metaphor could extend further – that, much like we could look at global climate issues that could elevate the frequency and severity of hurricanes, if we are serious about reducing terrorism, we should look at global economic (and religious?) issues that could lead people to consider drastic methods to change their lot in life.

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