Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Framework for Debates on Terrorism Response

I have been pondering this issue, in discussion with others, and felt it was sufficiently mature to air more widely.

The principle is simple -- it is difficult to see what the best actions are for reducing terrorism. Because of this difficulty, some way of simplifying the task is called for. To this end, I have identified four "key areas", under which I think all forms of reponses to terrorism may be classified.

In order to best meet the challenges of reducing terrorism, the framework could be used to ensure that no one area is being ignored, and the benefits of particular actions can be assessed in terms of how they address the key areas.

The four key areas are "Social Prevention", "Physical Prevention", "Social Mitigation" and "Disaster Mitigation".

Social prevention efforts are designed to stop people from wanting to commit terrorist actions. Physical prevention efforts are designed to stop people from carrying out the actions they have decided upon. Social mitigation efforts are designed to reduce the social impact of terrorist attacks on people, such as councelling for victims and deflating reactionary responses. Disaster mitigation refers to the response to the attack itself -- rebuilding damaged areas, co-ordinating health system responses, the ensuing policework etc.

It may be that some of these areas are more efficacious than others. Unless this is established however, one would expect to see a roughly equal allocation of resources to each of the four areas.

By examining existing anti-terror policies and programs in light of these key areas, it should be possible to discuss whether they meet their target goals, which areas are under-resources or over resources, and what new ideas could be injected to better meet the challenge.

Cheers,
-MP

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