Complacency and Survival; We Are Not Rid of Terrorist Threat

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 7, 2005 | Go to article overview

Complacency and Survival; We Are Not Rid of Terrorist Threat


Byline: Tod Lindberg, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Putting aside, for the moment only, which individuals are guilty of malfeasance in office, it is undeniable that the system America established for disaster relief failed miserably last week - and thousands of Americans died because of it.

In varying degrees, the responsibility for the calamity runs from the president of the United States, to state and local officials, to bureaucrats, to individual citizens of the Gulf who were able to but didn't evacuate, to current and prior presidents and Congresses who failed to fund projects, to the media prior to the event which failed to adequately chastize politicians and inform the public of the coming danger.

While officials high and low must - and will - be held accountable for their share of the fault, the big lesson learned is that the American system with all its wealth, capacity, checks and balances and vigorous free speech failed to avoid the disaster.

Many individuals shouted loudly, in advance (sometimes for years), about the coming danger, but one can distill the failure of America's overall, collective failure to a number of misjudgments.

Collectively, the country: (1) failed to listen to credible warnings; (2) assumed that our good luck would continue unabated; (3) failed to adequately assess the magnitude and likelihood of the danger; and (4) permitted the compelling pressures and benefits of business as usual to drive from its mind a serious consideration of a radical , bad change from the status quo.

In short, we were complacent. Actually preparing and paying for prevention or protection from a likely calamitous event was so appalling that we simply ignored it. Psychologists call it denial. The news calls it - 10,000 or more dead Americans.

Many commentators, and members of the public, have quickly noted that if emergency services are so rotten for a hurricane or flood, what does this say about our preparations for terrorist attacks in the future. They rightly ask what has the federal government been doing these last four years since September 11.

These thoughts about the terrorist threat have been troubling me for some time, as my regular readers and viewers are aware. And by chance, my book on this topic, "The West's Last Chance" (Regnery Publishing), is to be published this weekend, September 11. But the danger of muddled thinking and preparation for the terrorist threat goes far beyond even the major responsibilities and failures of FEMA.

Because, as heartbreaking, appalling and disgraceful as this event covering an area the size of Kansas is, it is merely a warning, writ small, of the danger facing the entire country (indeed our entire Western civilization) if we continue to face the Islamist threat with the same complacency with which we have faced the threat to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. …

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