War on Terrorism and What We Can Learn from our War with Fire   [open pdf - 388KB]

"The highly leveraged, asymmetric attacks of September 11th have launched the nation on a vast "War on Terrorism". Now that our vulnerabilities and the enemies' objectives and determination have been demonstrated, we find ourselves rapidly immersed in a huge, complex problem that is virtually devoid of true understanding while being swamped with resources and proposed technologies for solutions. How do we win this war? How do we make sure that we are making the proper investments? What things or freedoms or rights do we have to give up to win? Where do we even start? In analyzing this problem, many similarities to mankind's battle with uncontrolled fire and the threat it presented to society were noted. Major fires throughout history have destroyed whole cities and caused massive loss of life and property. Solutions were devised that have gradually, over several hundred years, reduced this threat to a level that allows us to co-exist with the threat of fire by applying constant vigilance and investments in fire protection, but without living in constant fear and dread from fire. We have created a multi-pronged approach to fire protection that involves both government and individuals in the prevention, mitigation, and response to fires. Fire protection has become a virtually unnoticed constant in our daily lives; we will have to do the same for terrorism. This paper discusses the history of fire protection and draws analogies to our War on Terrorism. We have, as a society, tackled and successfully conquered a problem as big as terrorism. From this battle, we can learn and take comfort."

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