Catastrophic Terrorism: Tackling the New Danger
By Ashton B. Carter, John Deutch, and Philip Zelikow
Article Summary and Author Biography
"The specter of weapons of mass destruction being used against America looms larger today than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis. The World Trade Center bombing scarcely hints at the enormity of the danger. America is prepared only for conventional terrorism, not a nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons catastrophe.
With the right approach and organization, however, the United States can be ready. Herewith a plan to reorganize the U.S. government to ensure that it can handle the threats of the next century.
Ashton Carter is Ford Foundation Professor of Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a former Assistant Secretary of Defense. John Deutch is Institute Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former Director of Central Intelligence and Deputy Secretary of Defense. Philip Zelikow, a former member of the National Security Council staff, is White Burkett Miller Professor of History and Director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia."
IMAGINING THE TRANSFORMING EVENT
Terrorism is not a new phenomenon. But today's terrorists, be they international cults like Aum Shinrikyo or individual nihilists like the Unabomber, act on a greater variety of motives than ever before. More ominously, terrorists may gain access to weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear devices, germ dispensers, poison gas weapons, and even computer viruses. Also new is the world's dependence on a nearly invisible and fragile network for distributing energy and information. Long part of the Hollywood and Tom Clancy repertory of nightmarish scenarios, catastrophic terrorism has moved from far-fetched horror to a contingency that could happen next month. Although the United States still takes conventional terrorism seriously, as demonstrated by the response to the attacks on its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August, it is not yet prepared for the new threat of catastrophic terrorism.
American military superiority on the conventional battlefield pushes its adversaries toward unconventional alternatives. The United States has already destroyed one facility in Sudan in its attempt to target chemical weapons. Russia, storehouse of tens of thousands of weapons and material to make tens of thousands more, may be descending into turmoil. Meanwhile, the combination of new technology and lethal force has made biological weapons at least as deadly as chemical and nuclear alternatives. Technology is more accessible, and society is more vulnerable. Elaborate international networks have developed among organized criminals, drug traffickers, arms dealers, and money launderers, creating an infrastructure for catastrophic terrorism around the world.The bombings in East Africa killed hundreds. A successful attack with weapons of mass destruction could certainly take thousands, or tens of thousands, of lives. If the device that exploded in 1993 under the World Trade Center had been nuclear, or had effectively dispersed a deadly pathogen, the resulting horror and chaos would have exceeded our ability to describe it. Such an act of catastrophic terrorism would be a watershed event in American history. It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented in peacetime and undermine America's fundamental sense of security, as did the Soviet atomic bomb test in 1949. Like Pearl Harbor, this event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures, scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects, and use of deadly force. More violence could follow, either further terrorist attacks or U.S. counterattacks. Belatedly, Americans would judge their leaders negligent for not addressing terrorism more urgently.
The danger of weapons of mass destruction being used against America and its allies is greater now than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. It is a national security problem that deserves the kind of attention the Defense Department devotes to threats of military nuclear attack or regional aggression. The first obstacle to imagination is resignation. The prospects may seem so dreadful that some officials despair of doing anything useful. Some are fatalistic, as if contemplating the possibility of a supernova. Many thinkers reacted the same way at the dawn of the nuclear age, expecting doom to strike at any hour and disavowing any further interest in deterrence as a hopeless venture. But as with nuclear deterrence, the good news is that more can be done.
Later goes on to point out:
Today the U.S. government is ordering everything from vaccines to new research, with nearly two dozen agencies issuing their own separate shopping lists. When these budget requests arrive in Congress, the lack of planning creates difficult choices for committees, which then argue with each other about how to divide the appropriations pie. The government should instead coordinate all budgets involving counterterrorism capabilities. The United States needs to acquire technology such as detectors of special materials (like radioactive substances), forensic investigation tools, automated tracking and analysis systems, and protective clothing and equipment. The Clinton administration has already started to acquire stockpiles of vaccines,
antidotes, and antibiotics, adding to such a program already underway for the U.S. armed forces. But it still needs resources for storage and shipment of medications as well as research into defense against biological weapons.
Laboratories around the country also need improved detection devices so they can rapidly analyze substances and check field identifications.
Reprinted by permission of FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Volume 77, Number 6, November/December 1998. Copyright 1998 by the Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/652/catastrophic_terrorism.htmlhttp://www.cfr.org/terrorism/new-terrorism-threat-response-foreign-affairs-books/p5819
Catastrophic Terrorism: Tackling the New Danger
Aston Carter, John Deutch, Philip Zelikow, Foreign Affairs, November/December 1998
It's just another coincidence the things they highlight is mass destruction WTC attack+biological warfare and loss of civil liberties which ALL unfolded so quickly after 9/11. Also highlights the eugenics motive behind biological warfare which is the catalyst for vaccination campgains (like swine flue) etc.