Preventive vs. Reactive Security

This is kind of a rambling essay on the need to spend more on infrastructure, but I was struck by this paragraph:

Here's a news flash: There are some events that no society can afford to be prepared for to the extent that we have come to expect. Some quite natural events -- hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, derechos -- have such unimaginable power that the destruction they wreak will always take days, or weeks, or months to fix. No society can afford to harden the infrastructure that supports it to make that infrastructure immune to such destructive forces.

Add terrorism to that list and it sounds like something I would say. Sometimes it makes more sense to spend money on mitigation than it does to spend it on prevention.

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 12:41 PM • 36 Comments

Comments

mikkojAugust 13, 2012 1:20 PM

Agreed, mostly. Preventive security should not forget proactive one? I can not see that there is only black and white here. Having just either way will result in issues. Arranging countermeasures for something that can be counted as "impossible" to prevent is waste of dineros, but preparation wisely and understanding places where mitigation shall happen is good investment with appropriate rate. Counting terrorism as part of the natural events is propably bit streched..though, consequences can be felt equally and globally.

John MacdonaldAugust 13, 2012 1:33 PM

In this sort of case, there will be the need to spend money on mitigation/remediation anyway because total prevention is not possible to achieve. There will usually be some prevention steps that are worthwhile because they prevent a significant number of cases; but after that there is a point where the cost of addition preventions steps is significantly greater than the costs of dealing with the consequences of letting those addition failures happen.

In response to the issue of "How can you put a price on human life?" objections, the answer is that the money that is not spent on extremely low savings can instead be spent in alternate ways that provides a higher saving of lives. Imagine if the budget for TSA were instead used to reduce highway traffic deaths - there could be greater savings of lives every month than the most generous estimate of the savings of lives by TSA actions in a decade.

the Secret CISOAugust 13, 2012 1:47 PM

I have to disagree, "...Add terrorism to that list and it sounds like something I would say. Sometimes it makes more sense to spend money on mitigation than it does to spend it on prevention...", most of the time, it makes perfect sense to ONLY spend money on mitigation.

simonAugust 13, 2012 1:52 PM

in my opinion, I don't count terror as one of them, as it is only the "news" of terror that really does the damage... fear does the damage not the few dead... take any terror attack, then think the society had the strength not to hit back, count the new jobs created to repair the damage....

this does not mean that I am for terrorism, but it does mean that I would like to sue/close all media channels that create the "sensation"

Glyndwr MichaelAugust 13, 2012 1:52 PM

Unfortunately, saying that you have a plan to mitigate the effects of something doesn't sell as well to voters as vowing to prevent it (even though it's probably impossible).

Really, the only way to truly prevent terrorism or crime is to have an Orwellian police state. This is unacceptable. I would rather live in danger and be free than live in absolute, total security and have no rights. A plan to mitigate the effects of it is much more realistic and far more beneficial to society.

HaraldAugust 13, 2012 2:11 PM

There's a danger to this kind of thinking - it can lead to an attitude where governments ignore prevention entirely, which leads to much larger loss of life.

The examples he chose are telling - we can't prevent hurricanes, or earthquakes, but we can mitigate their effects with building codes, and (hurricane) evacuations. We tell people not to build houses in flood plains, and so on.

I guess my thought is that there is a happy middle ground between "100% prevention" and "100% mitigation". Naturally, the sweet spot is extremely tough to find ;)

Andrew CondonAugust 13, 2012 2:20 PM

Bruce, it seemed like a pretty short piece to be described as rambling, no? But anyway, i think its point was well made as is yours re terrorism.

What also struck me was that preventing specific extreme weather events may be impossible but continuing our climate changing actions is likely to be a lot more expensive in the long run.

fusion August 13, 2012 2:49 PM

@ Glyndwr

Feeling doubtful about this:

", the only way to truly prevent terrorism or crime is to have an Orwellian police state. "

Ancient wisdom: defense always loses when attacker has resources and will to succeed.


"

John HritzAugust 13, 2012 3:18 PM

Right idea, soft conclusions. From a utilitarian standpoint, emergency management of terrorist events are indistinguishable from natural and man-made disasters. Preparedness for such events is a combination of preventing causes, preventing effects and correcting stuff that was unable to be prevented. For example, you can't prevent a hurricane, but you may be able to prevent the flooding that is an effect of the hurricane and you can have disaster relief that moves in quickly to render medical aid and housing to displaced or injured. Whether a building is knocked down by high winds, storm surge or a bomb, the recovery steps are similar. You might mandate fireproof materials and sprinklers in high fire risk buildings, or earthquake-proof foundations, but its not likely that you can provide comprehensive protection against every possibility economically.

lazloAugust 13, 2012 3:42 PM

@Herald: What I think is very interesting is that it's very possible that we *can* prevent hurricanes. I've seen many ideas, some ridiculously expensive, others not, some obviously flawed while others seem quite reasonable.

Now, Katrina didn't kill quite as many people as 9/11, but there are quite a few hurricane prevention strategies that I'd bet my money on before I bet it on the ability of the TSA to prevent a terrorist attack. Plus even the ridiculously expensive ones are cheaper in terms of dollars, and far cheaper in terms of freedom.

Chris WAugust 13, 2012 3:43 PM

@Glyndwr & fusion

", the only way to truly prevent terrorism or crime is to have an Orwellian police state. "

Practically any terror attack on itself hardly does any damage. The indirect damage is much greater. Society is to blame for overreacting, our fear always gets the better of us. The strong of mind will not fear and demand vengeance, the weak of mind become fearful and demand protection. When our governments toil to satisfy our demands, terrorism succeeds. Money and Lives are spend on vengeful wars, Money and Freedom on protection. And we thank them for it.

Orwellian states may be able to prevent terrorism, but wouldn't it become terror itself? Wouldn't you walk on the street fearing you will be pointed out a terrorist and disappear? Wouldn't you be afraid to speak about unconventional ideas?

But to say we must change our nature to truly prevent terrorism, might be just as bad as a Orwellian state... a utopia that is doomed to stagnate and die.
Sadly enough we depend on conflict to thrive.

Either way... fear prevails.

Ironically, fear is usually the reason why a terrorist commits terrorism. Perhaps our preventive action should begin there. If it only were that simple...


Reminds me of a quote of the 2007 movie The Invasion, the movie itself rather full of cliches. The full quote is on imdb. Carol vs Yorish.
Carol: "Read Piaget, Kohlberg or Maslow, Graves, Wilber, and you'll see that we're still evolving. Our consciousness is changing. Five hundred years ago, postmodern feminists didn't exist yet one sits right beside you today. And while that fact may not undo all of the terrible things that have been done in this world, at least it gives me reason to believe that one day, things may be different."

mikkojAugust 13, 2012 5:07 PM

Of course it takes most sense to just mitigate consequences in case the preparation (proactive approach) is not taken into account while most pressure has been put on preventive measures which turned to be unusable, stultified and otherwise inconsistent.

Taking preparation wisely into account does not mean 100% protection, instead it demands enabling certain levels of proactive measures.

Removing fear related to natural hazards is quite impossible task, to some extend surely a good preparation helps. What comes to the terrorism, the fear is the tool and objective to achieve the willing state. How you stop fear? To become the fear itself? Fear is like a flu, it is infectious.

Breaking down the fear of terrorism would require adjusting the everyday life. Not by buidling up Orwellian state, but influencing "no fear" to the hearts and souls of the citizens.

However, while there is a conflict - there is always terrorism, in a level or another. Someone will always get involved. Again, no one is "immune" to natural hazards or terrorism.

So: 100 % prevention thinking is bad. Mitigation to some, well defined extent is good. Proactive arrangements are good.

Carl 'SAI' MitchellAugust 13, 2012 5:16 PM

@Chris W:
You say that the strong of mind call for vengeance. I think that's actually just another weak-minded response to fear and pain. The strong of mind call for acceptance, to help those harmed by the act, and to structure policy to help prevent such acts.

Clive RobinsonAugust 13, 2012 6:26 PM

@ Bruce,

Sometimes it makes more sense to spend money on mitigation than it does to spend it on prevention.

And sometimes it does not.

Our modern first world society is based almost entirely on quick and easy access to Water, Food, Power and Communications. Without any of which it will very quickly fall apart.

Saddly they are very much interdependent on each other. However the most important in anything other than the very immediate short term is power.

Most of the power we use in our first world lives is dependent to easy access to liquid fossil fuels.

You cannot in our first world mittigate against this thus you have to defend it very very robustly.

Perhaps oddly in this respect third world nations are better off in this respect because their basic way of life is not fossil fuel dependent...

Unfortunatly while it would make a great deal of sense to invest money in reasearch to mittigate against the loss of access it has been stymed repeatedly over the years by vested interests.

However the "green movment" has finaly caused some of the vested interests to start actually looking in mittigating the use of liquid fossil fuels but we are still one heck of a long way off having it "disaster mittigated".

GweihirAugust 13, 2012 6:31 PM

It depends. Tsunami itself may or may not be manageable with reasonable effort, but add an installation like Fukushima and suddenly "not manageable" becomes "we want to build this cheap, get filthy rich and let others pay for any damage resulting from our actions".

FigureitoutAugust 13, 2012 9:12 PM

If certain weather events stay isolated to mostly the same areas: ie coastal areas w/ hurricanes and tsunamis, areas on fault lines w/ earthquakes, and other areas w/ tornados and derechos; you could be more prepared for specific disasters.

Power is #1 though, everything shuts down without it, it's scary how reliant we're on it. Everyone could keep at least a small generator and some gas handy, unless you're in an apartment, residents could push the owners on what their mitigation plan is. I hope to be able to see solar panels on every roof of a house.

tensorAugust 14, 2012 1:25 AM

"Really, the only way to truly prevent terrorism or crime is to have an Orwellian police state."

Orwell made pretty clear that The Party was the biggest criminal organization in Oceania. They were pretty adept at terror too. (And if Eurasia/Eastasia didn't really exist, then The Party was causing terror within Oceania on an even larger scale.)

"You say that the strong of mind call for vengeance."

I read the rest of the paragraph as saying that vengeance was wrong, too:

"Money and Lives are spend on vengeful wars, Money and Freedom on protection. And we thank them for it."

By the time we killed Osama bin Laden, he'd long been rendered irrelevant -- not because of our military or law-enforcement actions, but because even his potential supporters had grown weary of his death machine. Al-Qaeda never produced anything positive for anybody; it just killed and killed and killed, with neither discrimination nor mercy.

JurgenAugust 14, 2012 3:41 AM

May I recall 'Time Based Security' by Winn Schwartau ...? It's (relatively) ages old but still very valid in today's spending discussions. Somehow, the auditors [disclaimer: I am one] with their 'preventative is always better than anything else' mantra have taken over the asylum. Time to correct their simpleton approach.

JasonAugust 14, 2012 5:49 AM

Whether you're talking about terrorism or natural disasters, the key word is "networks". I'm not just talking about the Internet, I'm talking about the infrastructure, social structures, and communications systems that tie us to each other more tightly than any society that's ever come before. They're our greatest source of strength, and our greatest weakness.

We don't need to build invulnerable bridges and houses because we can rely on our networks to help us if they're destroyed. Networks like state and federal governments who respond to disasters, like homeowner's insurance, like church and civic groups, like dense road and utility networks that can route around damage, all of which mean that any one of us can have our town destroyed by an earthquake or hurricane and not end up starving and destitute with our children dying of cholera. And it speaks to the power of our networks that we don't even realize how impressive and unprecedented that is.

These same ideas apply to national security and terrorism. Even *without* spending hundreds of billions on Homeland Security, our networks keep us safe. If any one plane gets blown up, it's a disaster for the victims and their families, but the other 99.9999% of us can go on with our lives, supporting the one in a million who've lost a loved one. Like a good computer network, you can blow countless holes in a national societal network without ever destroying it physically.

But there's the catch: the power of networks to spread out the force of a blow is also their weakness. If someone blows up a plane, shoots up a theater, or if a wildfire or earthquake devastates a town, we all hear about it, we feel like we're participating in it, we react with anguish, pain, and fear despite the fact that an insignificant number of us were directly affected. An attack anywhere network can incite terror throughout.

So our networks bring us both strength and weakness, but in the end, it's not an even balance. Or at least, it shouldn't be. Because our networks' strength brings us real tangible security, while their weakness is all in our heads.

Chris WAugust 14, 2012 6:39 AM

@tensor

Yes, both extremes are wrong. But it is difficult to avoid this since we usually respond to such emotional events in extremes.
But Carl was pointing out that strong-minded wasn't exactly the right word. Since (blind) vengeance isn't exactly a smart response. Strong-minded people are supposed to determined, thoughtful people.
Not sure about that interpretation since English isn't my native language. I can't think of a better term, however.
I was trying to convey that our governments somehow try to satisfy these two extremes. They don't specifically do it because they're bad, evil or stupid, it's because we want them to and perhaps because they're human too.
The failed petition about the EPIC vs TSA is an excellent example. (Except for that tiny part about foul play in the petition process)

vasiliy pupkinAugust 14, 2012 8:36 AM

@ Gweihir:
"suddenly "not manageable" becomes "we want to build this cheap, get filthy rich and let others pay for any damage resulting from our actions".
What other could you expect when infrastructure is privately owned and mainly self regulated, driven by greed and immediate financial gratification not public good or interest in the core?
When industry is in the core of survival of society as a whole (I mean 99% included as well), its activity/security is in public interest and government oversight/regulation is vital for both mandatory reasonable preventive measures as well as for mitigation, e.g. put electrical infrastructure underground.
The alternative is class action law suits which are good for trial lawyers on both sides, but did not address resolution of the problem itself. Result is development of service agreements making providers immune in a future.
By the way, does GWEN system exist for through the ground electricty supply in the cases of disaster?

paulAugust 14, 2012 9:34 AM

I think that "prevention" and "mitigation" may be the wrong categories (or be defined to include the wrong things).

Building codes make recovery from many disasters (including terrorist acts) easier, but there are also measures like evacuation routes and training that don't seem to fit exactly into either category. Same with prediction, whether for earthquakes or severe weather or terrorism. Is that prevention or mitigation?

I think part of the issue is that we mix up loss of property, loss of services and loss of life. If a hurricane hits an evacuated city built out of moldproof materials, things can go back to normal as soon as the waters recede; if terrorists blow up an empty building whose services are hot-spared elsewhere, has there really been an attack?

sethAugust 14, 2012 9:55 AM

With most structures I know disaster-hardening for things like hurricanes is done on a statistical basis. You design a building to withstand for instance "200-year" winds, or "1000-year" winds. I.E. the disaster statistically occurs only about once in the given period.

Joey BAugust 14, 2012 1:13 PM

That statistical approach works until conditions change... eg., climate change makes 100-year storms occur every 20 years, or real estate collapse boosts the normal rate of foreclosures and crushes your mortgage derivatives.

Clive RobinsonAugust 14, 2012 10:07 PM

@ Seth, Joey B,

That statistical approach works until conditions change

Actualy only in a physical world (and then quite imperfectly).

The idea is basicaly due to "localisation" that is to steal an object a thief has to be "local to it" thus cannot be doing harm elsewhere at the same time. The idea gets stretched a little with lightening damage in a storm, a little further with flooding etc. But at some point the effect gets so large it's nolonger local. Thankfully in our physical world these large area evensts are quite rare so a second dimension to the idea is frequency of occurance.

Now from the insurance point of view they limit these with "Acts of God" and "Acts of War" and refuse to pay out usually forcing people on "the insurer of last resort" the Nation State.

Engineers are not so lucky they get stuck with lawyers and arguments about "Best endevors", "Best Practice" and what ever other "Best" a lawyer with a smart mouth can come up with on the day and sweet talk the judge and jury with.

The big problem is the two things (locality and frequency) we accept almost axiomaticaly in our tangible physical world do not apply in the intangible information world.

If you as an individual have a number of zero day exploits and you use them covertly to put payloads in as many computers as possible all set to trigger at the same time you obviousl break the "locality" assumption as your "wide area storm" wreaks havoc world wide. Likewise you can also repeate the excercise over and over again as long as you have unknown attacks that make available machines vulnerable.

Thankfully so far although we have had one or two "wide area storms" (Bob Morris Worm being the first to get public attention) demonstrating the falseness of the "locality" assumption, nobody has yet had a concerted effort on "frequency". When they do then I suspect someone will cry out "Cyber-warfare attack" even though it might only be a smart teenager with to much time on their hands...

DerechoAugust 15, 2012 8:00 AM

One leans every day. I thought "derecho" was a typo for something I could not work out, but wikiepdia to the rescue! It exists :D

Linear thunderstorms seem like a weird thing, I never knew these existed (I hope I'm not the victim of a clever info joke attack here)

Sherwood BotsfordAugust 15, 2012 8:49 AM

There is a cost benefit that applies to disasters as well as to individual risk.

Example: California had major problems with the San Francisco earthquake. Buildings there now by code have to be built to a better standard. While buildings still fail, much fewer of them do, and fewer of them fail catastrophically.

Example: Our building codes are iteratively modified to reduce the risk of death.

Example: Katrina devastated New Orleans. Yet in most cases the problem was about 10 feet of water. Suppose that replacement construction was on 12 foot pillars. (This may not be possible on the delta mud...) It may have to be hollow caisons)

The ground level floor is left open. A place to park the car. Have a picnic table. Place for the kids to play on a rainy day. Stuff in the pillar space is either stuff you are willing to lose or can be easily moved.

Utilties are required to be on the main floor. Power for the pillar space is on separate breakers.

Next time the dikes break, people turn off the power to the lower level, jump in the car, and go. When they come back, they have a place to live.

This doesn't mean that all such disasters can be mitigated. If that fault off the Oregon coast slips, a lot of people are going to get wet. Tsunami are difficult to mitigate. We lucked out when Mount St. Helens blew off. The wind was going in a direction that much of the ash was spread on lightly populated country. (My mom got about 3/4". Said it was wonderful for the garden...) But if the Yellowstone super volcano blows up, there is very little anyone can do to prepare except to move out of the way before it happens.

Even on slower disasters there are steps that can be taken. Alberta agriculture now recommends sizing water storage dugouts for 3 year's capacity to cover a 2 year drought plus evaporation. If flood control were implemented as millions of private dams on tiny tributaries, you would have both water storage for drought, water recharge for aquifers, and some degree of flood control.

Implementing some of this is easy and not very expensive overall. Change the insurance rules. Eliminate "Act of God" clauses for predictable hazards. Insurence companies will give discounts on premiums for taking preventive action. Build on a flood plain? Build high, or build dikes. On farm land it makes more sense to make the high cost farm buildings and equipment storage protected, and let the fields flood. Having a place for the flood water to go, spreads out the peak, and protects people downstream. You lose a year's crop, possibly three if there is a heavy silt load.

Sherwood BotsfordAugust 15, 2012 10:07 AM

There is a cost benefit that applies to disasters as well as to individual risk.

Example: California had major problems with the San Francisco earthquake. Buildings there now by code have to be built to a better standard. While buildings still fail, much fewer of them do, and fewer of them fail catastrophically.

Example: Our building codes are iteratively modified to reduce the risk of death, particularly fire.

Example: Katrina devastated New Orleans. Yet in most cases the problem was about 10 feet of water. Suppose that replacement construction was on 12 foot pillars. (This may not be possible on the delta mud...) It may have to be hollow caisons)

The ground level floor is left open -- free to flood. You can screen it against critters, but water has to be able to flow through. A place to park the car. Have a picnic table. Place for the kids to play on a rainy day. Stuff in the pillar space is either stuff you are willing to lose or can be easily moved. Household insurence doesn't cover anything in the pillar space.

Utilities are required to be on the main floor. In particular: Water meter, breaker panel, gas shutoff are all on the living level. Power for the pillar space is on separate breakers.

Next time the dikes break, people turn off the power to the lower level, jump in the car, and go. When they come back, they have a place to live.

This doesn't mean that all such disasters can be mitigated. If that fault off the Oregon coast slips, a lot of people are going to get wet. Tsunami are difficult to mitigate. We lucked out when Mount St. Helens blew off. The wind was going in a direction that much of the ash was spread on lightly populated country. (My mom got about 3/4". Said it was wonderful for the garden...) But if the Yellowstone super volcano blows up, there is very little anyone can do to prepare except to move out of the way before it happens.

Even on slower disasters there are steps that can be taken. Alberta agriculture now recommends sizing water storage dugouts for 3 year's capacity to cover a 2 year drought plus evaporation. If flood control were implemented as millions of private dams on tiny tributaries, you would have both water storage for drought, water recharge for aquifers, and some degree of flood control.

Implementing some of this is easy and not very expensive overall. Change the insurance rules. Eliminate "Act of God" clauses for predictable hazards. Insurence companies will give discounts on premiums for taking preventive action. Build on a flood plain? Build high, or build dikes. On farm land it makes more sense to make the high cost farm buildings and equipment storage protected, and let the fields flood. Having a place for the flood water to go, spreads out the peak, and protects people downstream. You lose a year's crop, possibly three if there is a heavy silt load.

Bryan FeirAugust 15, 2012 11:41 AM

@Harald:
We tell people not to build houses in flood plains...

We tell people that, but a lot of the time they don't listen. Places like Agassiz in British Columbia can attest to that, as can Toronto when it was hit by Hurricane Hazel back in 1954. Despite semi-regular floods along the Humber River, there were a lot of houses along that floodplain that got washed out; and yet laws had to be passed to prevent developers from building houses right in the areas that had just been washed out.

The Conservation Authority that was created following that disaster blocked most of the construction, and the floodplain land got expropriated and turned into parkland. Much of that parkland is now deliberately built at a lower level than the surrounding land to act as catchbasins in case the river floods again.

AnonAugust 18, 2012 1:20 AM

@Chris W

You stated: "Ironically, fear is usually the reason why a terrorist commits terrorism." Terrorists may want to promote fear, but that isn't really the end goal. The end goals of Al Qaeda are for the US to change its foreign policy, adopt sharia law, etc.

Wael August 18, 2012 12:33 PM

@ Chris W

US to change foriegn policy: Probably true! But a subset of that policy is more accurate.
Adopt Sharia law: Probably not true
Etc. : Probably true

AnonAugust 19, 2012 12:09 AM

@tensor

Bin laden was not irrelevant when he died. To the extent he had lost importance, it was due to the actions of the US and their allies.

Clive RobinsonAugust 19, 2012 6:06 AM

@ Anon,

Bin laden was not irrelevant when he died. To the extent he had lost importance, it was due to the actions of the US and their allies

Depends on your view point of "who" OBL was relevant to and "why".

OBL had lost credability with the people he was in "theory" working to liberate.

Yes they want the US backing of dictators to stop but the majority most certainly did not want and still do not want the non secularism of neo-Sharism, the voilence and kick back of Extream-Sharism, nor to have the yoke of Fundementalist Sharia Law put around their necks.

Many want the secular freedom of self determination by political process open to all equally without religion interfering directly or indirectly with the process. Likewise they want equality in education and other aspects of modern life. And as some sects within the broad range of Muslim faiths have indicated these wishes are not in conflict with the "word of God" as given in the Quran.

Unfortunatly the various Sunnah's which also form part of Sharia Law are much more divers and subject to interpretation by the religious scholars who try to view it through what they beleive are the current mores of their society (fiqh) and is seen by many as very much out of date and overly conservative or to others (who arguably benifit) much to liberal.

Arab Spring is these wishes given voice and action showing many in the area just how irrelevant OBL had become. Further it would appear that even in Pakistan / Afghanistan he had become irrelevant as well and only held hidden in reserve by some as a "just in case" measure to keep the politicians under control.

OBL's time was well over in his part of the world long long before the US dumped his carcass overboard. In fact it could be argued that he had become irrelevant in the US as well even for the FUD of the "War on Terror".

Further it has been argued by quite a few that OBLs demise was timed to be used as a political show case as well as to rub the Pakistani secret services "noses in it" and "embarrass" the Pakistani politicians into acting to bring them under control.

So arguably OBLs relevance had sunk to being a mear political pawn in the "great game".

Which ever way you look at it OBL's influence waned considerably after the Afkhan authorities "invited" the US & UK in to try and reduce the issues to do with the Talib and their Extreamest/Fundementalist views.

Also the ill thought out invasion of Iraq starved OBL of resources and political protection as the geo-political dynamics in the Gulf region changed dramatically. There were now "The Great Satan's, soldiers on adjacent territory" so the likes of the Talib and other Syrian, Iranian etc backed terrorist organisations that had been previously directed against Sadam either disbanded or reformed to attack US and other "invaders" and as such almost immediatly robbed OBL of recruits and resources.

If you look at it from the potential recruits perspective "why kill yourself dishonorably by murdering non combatant women and children, when you can honorably engage with soldiers with a good expectation of survival, get paid good (drugs) money, have free access to drugs and go home to your family when you get bored / tired / homesick.

I suspect OBL's legacy will turn out to be renewed tensions between Pakistan and India over the Kasmir area as the likes of the more radical Talib elements get pushed ever eastwards as the pragmatic majority gain political power as respectable political parties in the likes of Afghanistan.

AnonAugust 19, 2012 11:48 AM

@Clive

When he died Bin Laden was still arguably the global leader of the Sunni jihad against the US and Europe.

WayneAugust 20, 2012 3:54 PM

I would add to your comment that people and governments should stop doing stupid things. By trying to prevent every bad thing from happening, you unintentionally cause systemic unpreparedness for the large events, that coalesces to create a mega disaster.

Read "The black Swan of Cairo" It should be a mandatory read for everyone who cares about risk:

http://fooledbyrandomness.com/ForeignAffairs.pdf

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