Davos Newbies Home

Amateur security is rather nice  

This may be a slightly crazy and even irresponsible thing to say in our age of terrorism, but I feel oddly reassured by the two security lapses in London this week. It’s not that I’m complacent about risks. But I think there are real benefits to living in a society where the first impulse is casual and non-violent rather than shoot first, ask questions later.

A few years ago, when I first had to go to Downing Street, the security consisted of a policeman checking your name was on a list. If it was, you were ushered through the gates and walked to Number Ten. No one checked your bag, no one checked any ID to see that you were in fact the person you claimed to be.

Inside 10 Downing Street, the only additional security was the requirement to leave your mobile phone on the table in the hallway.

This was in the immediate aftermath of 9-11. Of course, a few months later, metal detectors were added to the security, which I’m sure is sensible. Still no one confirmed a visitor’s identity.

When the ridiculous Batman climbed onto Buckingham Palace this week, he wasn’t shot. The Guardian had a picture of a friendly looking paramedic chatting with the masked intruder. The marines at the White House wouldn’t have been so kind. Similarly the official with a sword — no guns anywhere, note — didn’t draw his weapon in the House of Commons yesterday.

No one wants a security breach that results in real harm. But equally it’s good that we have an environment where the root assumption is that no harm is intended.

John Robb’s difficult question  

John Robb: “Inconsistant (fuzzy) goals continue to plague the US occupation. What do we want in Iraq? You pick:

  1. A stable country sans Saddam?
  2. A secular democracy that respects individual (particularly women) rights?
  3. A country that is friendly to the US?
  4. A country open to globalization that may not be a democracy?
  5. A staging ground for US forces in the region?
  6. A honeypot to attract al Qaeda (so they don’t attack the US)?
  7. A demonstration of US military power?
  8. A demonstration of US beneficence?
  9. All of the above or some of the above?”

One thought on “Davos Newbies Home

  1. Donald Larson

    “No one wants a security breach that results in real harm. But equally it’s good that we have an environment where the root assumption is that no harm is intended.”

    Yeah, I’d say the 9/11 terrorists and their planners counted on that attitude allowing people to learn to fly planes but not take-off and land them.

    And even as the terrorists hijacked the doomed planes on 9/11, the passengers were told to stay in their seats because a typical hijack was in effect.

    Complacency has deep roots in Western society. It will likely take many more deaths by terrorists before attitudes change for many people.

    Some people aren’t so willing to risk the outcome that no harm is intended during security breaches and other potential dangerous decisions. Their assumptions and how those people react should be just as understandable.



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