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Port Danger

Now that the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has passed, it is wise to review our security precautions. And one area experts agree is very vulnerable is our ports. The National Center for Policy Analysis has issued a report that it headlines: Danger Abides at Los Angeles’ Ports.

This is the real societal danger. The West won’t be brought down by hijacked planes, but as this report states:

If terrorists were to explode a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb in the Port of Long Beach, Rand Corp. researchers recently calculated, it could kill 60,000 people instantly, expose 150,000 more to hazardous levels of radiation and result in more than $1 trillion in economic losses, at least 10 times the financial loss in the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center five years ago.

Of course, we should do all we can to secure our ports and make the terrorists’ job more difficult. But, inevitably, no amount of defense of that sort will protect us. After all, we have to be right every single time. The terrorists only have to be lucky or smart once.

This is why the Bush administration attitude toward North Korea and Iran developing nuclear weapons is unacceptable. This constant jabbering to no purpose is just giving these countries more time to develop weapons and disseminate them.

Part of the issue is that, inevitably, we are looking at a breakdown in the nation-state system, and the Bush White House doesn’t seem willing to accept this.

In the past, we accorded nations the right to do things as long as they did them within their borders. This made sense when transportation was slow and weapons had limited range and utility. It could take weeks or months to assemble an army and move to a neighboring country; even then, the army was only lethal in a limited sense.

But with today’s weapons, there is no margin of error.

This means the US has to exercise the one thing our culture has made most difficult to exercise: judgment.

We have no choice but to trust in our own judgment and say that to us it is simply unacceptable that nations such as North Korea and Iran should have missiles or nuclear weapons.

There is nothing wrong with working with our allies or having some discussions with interested parties. But those allied talks will only be successful if we make the bottom line clear to those involved.

China doesn’t pressure North Korea, and our European friends and Russia don’t pressure Iran because we have not made clear what we will do if the talks fail to produce accord.

Nobody wants war, but we will not be able to stop nukes from our ports by inspecting containers. The problem must be stopped at its source. If we lack the courage to insist upon this, I cry for my children.

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