The Challenge of the New Age
Edited by David H. McIntyre and William I. Hancock
Chapter 2: Terrorism: A Short-term Phenomenon?
Michael Minor Fear not for the future, weep not for the past. (Percy Bysshe Shelley) INTRODUCTION In the heat of the moment, events can assume a larger-than-life quality and seem destined to change our lives, our country, perhaps even the world order, permanently. Arguably, when it comes to terrorism, we are still in the heat of the moment. Will terrorism permanently and fundamentally alter our political and economic landscape, and the way we do business? In this chapter I argue that two similar phenomena have occurred in the post-World War II period. Both of these phenomena turned out to be important but not breathtaking. I argue that, ultimately, we will find that terrorism’s impact is similar – important but not profound. When I was studying risk assessment some years ago, I learned that we can divide risks into two major categories (there is even a Society for Risk Analysis, believe it or not). First, there are huge or cataclysmic events that change many lives on a permanent basis. Luckily, these events, like the tsunami that hit Asia, do not happen very often. Then there are other negative events which occur frequently, but their effect is temporary or mild. There are many earthquakes, but thankfully only a few do more than jeopardize the family china. I was asked to speak about the effect of terror on business to a conference at Texas A&M University. This was the Business, Terrorism and Homeland Security Workshop on 7 June 2005, and the Bush School...
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