Monday, December 27, 2004

What Cannot Be Forseen

Wretchard has a must-read piece today that discusses early warning systems for tsunamis and terrorism:

In an abstract way, the information flows surrounding the Tsunami of December 2004 structurally resembled those preceding the Pearl Harbor and September 11 attacks. The raw data announcing the unfolding threat was there, yet the pattern so evident in hindsight was invisible to those who were not looking for it. But if tsunamis and asteroid strikes are rare events, they are comparatively more common than that still rarer object, the unprecedented event: the something that has never happened before. Threats like that can emerge suddenly out of chaotic systems, like WMD terrorism or new viral plagues. Against such events, specific precautions are impossible because no one can prepare for what cannot be foreseen. The real challenge is not so much to create a new dedicated network of staring systems against known threats but to tie current sensors to systems which are capable of cognition. The most valuable survival asset is situational awareness -- the ability to recognize threats you have never seen before and respond in an evolving manner -- and that capability has not yet come to the world as a whole.

The Belmont Club's analysis and analogy is ever so much more helpful than the sniping that has already begun (and is documented in Wretchard's post) to try to blame the loss of life in this terrible natural disaster on...who else? Here's a few samples from the Sydney Morning Herald quoted by Wretchard:

A pity our army is busy fighting America's immoral war when they should be
providing assistance to the affected areas. - Shane Arnold

These divine winds show that the Gods are displeased with the world's state of affairs. - Tomoyuki Yamashita

An opportunity for western governments to divert some funds to aid
assistance projects rather than their billion dollar war obsessions. - Mother
Nature strikes

This latest tragic disaster should open all our eyes to the fact that the world seems to already have its "hands full" coping with seemingly ongoing natural disasters rather than creating such man made disasters as we have contributed to in Iraq. - wayne gregory

Dont expect a genuinely compassionate response from the U.S. Government, as a "war on earthquakes" will not be as profitable as good ol' terrorism - Nick Loveday

Isn't the Left lovely? They never miss an opportunity to advertise their slogans or show their compassion (except check out which states are less generous here). However, the private citizens of the U.S. donate more money, goods, and disaster relief to the world than any government on earth (here, here).

What is interesting about Wretchard's analysis is that there is something to be learned from this most horrible of natural disasters in which more than 21,000 people died.--not only in preventing future natural disasters, but in general in preventing "what canot be forseen". Read the whole article.

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