Edwin Dorn, Dean, LBJ School of Public Affairs
September 11 was the single deadliest day in American history-- worse than any of the battles of the Civil War, worse than Pearl Harbor, worse than the 1900 Galveston hurricane. As we deal with the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, we also must think about how terrorism will affect our futures.
At the LBJ School, our response has unfolded in three stages. First, during the hours and days immediately after the attack, we tried to address the urgent emotional and practical needs of our students, faculty, and staff. On September 12, for example, we announced that we would cover travel expenses for any member of the LBJ School community who lost a loved one in the attack. Fortunately, no one needed to take us up on that offer.
Many of us also were in a shaky, emotional state, and I tried to address that in the following message to the LBJ School community:
The second stage of our response developed as the students' initial shock turned to questions. Why? What next? This led to a series of symposia, lectures, media interviews, and articles designed to make sense of what had happened. The week following the attack, students organized a symposium at which several LBJ School professors, a retired Air Force general, and an LBJ School student (who also is in the Texas National Guard) discussed the attack, its causes, and potential ramifications.
We also started using the media to help educate the general public. Professor Bob Inman, formerly director of the National Security Agency and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, wrote a New York Times op-ed that traced the long-term decline in our country's intelligence-gathering capability and explained why it would take us a decade or more to rebuild that capability. Professor Frank Gavin, in an Austin-American Statesman op-ed, was one of the first commentators to note that "victory" against terrorism has a very different meaning than victory against a nation-state adversary. Gary Chapman, a former Green Beret and LBJ School lecturer, explained how special operations forces might be used in Afghanistan; Professor Elspeth Rostow answered news media questions about how the Bush administration was responding to the crisis; and Professors James Galbraith and Bob Auerbach commented on the economic ramifications of the attack. In short, LBJ School faculty provided the public with a rich array of perspectives.
Those first two stages will go on for a while; the emotional shadow of the attack will hover over our country for years to come, as will our thirst for understanding. Meanwhile, we must begin the third stage of our response--figuring out how the attack of September 11 will affect what we teach and study at the LBJ School. My guess is that we will adjust our curriculum and our research in at least two different ways. Almost certainly, terrorism will figure more prominently in the way we approach national security policy. Historically, U.S. national security policy has focused on big nations, big wars, big armies. In the future, we must figure out how to deal with a much more diverse range of threats--"asymmetric threats," in Pentagon parlance.
This involves coming to grips with the fact that terrorists are driven by motives and goals--by a calculus of costs and benefits--fundamentally different from the motives and goals that drive the leaders of nation-states. The leaders of nation-states are motivated by a quest for power--control of territory, people, economic resources. Violence (external aggression, internal suppression) is a means to that end. By contrast, for Osama bin Ladin and other terrorists, violence is an end in itself; the goal is to kill.
Terrorism also will affect state and local policymaking, as local jurisdictions try to improve their security and emergency response capabilities. Because those capabilities are expensive--a robust chem-bio hazard capability could cost millions of dollars to equip and maintain, for example--relatively few local jurisdictions will be able to go it alone; they must cooperate. Figuring out what added capability to acquire, how to pay for it, and how to deploy it will require research and modeling. This may involve building on the kind of work that Professor David Eaton did several years ago to help Austin figure out how best to position its emergency response vehicles.
Out of the devastation of September 11 has grown a new awareness of the challenges we confront as a nation. We at the LBJ School will do our part to respond to those challenges.
In late September, two panel discussions were organized by LBJ School groups to discuss issues related to the September 11 terrorist attack. One panel, organized by the Brown Bag Committee, led an in-depth discussion on how things have changed. Panelists were (left to right) Dean Ed Dorn; Professor Elspeth Rostow; Lieutenant General Dirk Jameson, retired; Professor Frank Gavin; and second-year student Ahrey Smith, who is a member of the Texas National Guard.
Photo by Doug Marshall
December 7, 2001
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