Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Marmots, Wallabies, and National Security

"Op-Ed: What Marmots Teach Us About Terrorism"
Wired Science, Wired.com (April 21, 2009)

"When dealing with national security, we would be wise to take lessons from nature about managing risks. Animals that fail to evolve or learn effective ways to avoid predation leave no descendants. Thus, by studying the diversity of anti-predator adaptations, we may learn about what works and what doesn't work with respect to our own risks...."

I doubt that this is the definitive answer to all questions regarding national security: but Daniel Blumstein makes a good case for studying animal behavior as a guide to balancing risk and cost in national security planning.

"...A key lesson is that avoiding all risk is impossible...." This may be another important point.

The author may prefer that America emulate marmots, rather than wallabies - staying away from dangerous areas. If so, I don't agree - but I recognize that isolationism is a perennially popular point of view.

Bottom line: This op-ed is a relatively easy read, and presents a pretty good case for observing nature to learn what systems work, and which don't.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.