Saturday, August 12, 2006

Guarding Against One Percent

With recent events firmly in mind, Rich Lowry finds merit in The One Percent Doctrine:

Ron Suskind’s best-selling book The One Percent Doctrine refers to Vice President Dick Cheney’s axiom that if there is a one-percent chance of a nuclear bomb going off in an American city, the U.S. government has to respond with all the urgency as if there is a 100 percent chance of such an event. When Suskind’s book appeared, there was much clucking about Cheney’s thinking — so dire, so dark, so unmodulated.

But Cheney’s vision can only be considered unhinged if a fog of complacency descends about the terror threat facing us. Whenever that threat becomes clear again, as it has in the wake of the breakup of a plot in Britain to blow airliners from the sky, everyone begins to think like Dick Cheney, or maybe more so: If there is a mere .0001-percent chance of a terrorist smuggling liquid explosives on a flight from Denver to Green Bay, Wis., no one can carry on hair gel, and new mothers must present their baby formula for inspection.

The fact is that we live in a one-percent world. We face a shadowy enemy who represents a threat that is unspeakably awful when it is actualized, but is too easy to discount when it isn’t. Who even remembers that suspects were arrested in Miami two months ago in the very early stages of plotting perhaps to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago? It’s always possible to let the mind wander, until thousands of innocent civilians are killed.

[HT: Real Clear Politics ]

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