A FAILURE TO PROTECT
The United States is living on borrowed time -- and squandering it. The attacks of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon highlighted just how open the United States is to unconventional attacks. The widespread economic and social disruption that flowed from the suicidal acts of just 19 terrorists also exposed the Achilles' heel of the world's sole superpower. The transportation, energy, information, financial, chemical, food, and logistical networks that underpin U.S. economic power and the American way of life offer the United States' enemies a rich menu of irresistible targets. And most of these remain virtually unprotected.
It does not have to be this way. Choosing to invest in offensive and defensive capabilities should not be an either-or proposition. In war, nations need both. Given the wealth of the United States, it can clearly afford to protect its most valued assets along with fielding a second-to-none military. But it cannot strike the right balance as long as it persists with treating homeland security as wholly separate from national security. Nor can muscular efforts to combat terrorism at its source be a substitute for the systematic engagement of civil society and the private sector in a collective effort to confront the threat of catastrophic acts of terror at home. The United States must do more than transform its armed forces and repair its broken intelligence services. It must also provide a new institutional framework to construct a more resilient society that has the capacity to take a blow as well as to strike one.
Washington has demonstrated an extraordinary degree of hardheadedness when it comes to acknowledging the limits of its military and intelligence capabilities to combat the terrorist threat. The premise behind the Bush administration's strategy of preemptive use of force is that as long as the United States is willing to show sufficient grit, it can successfully hold its enemies at bay. Vice President Dick Cheney made this case recently in an
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