Presentation on theme: "Combating terrorism: The view of a physicist Talk at the Global Foundation conference Chatham House, London Richard Wilson Mallinckrodt Research Professor."— Presentation transcript:
Combating terrorism: The view of a physicist Talk at the Global Foundation conference Chatham House, London Richard Wilson Mallinckrodt Research Professor of Physics Harvard University December 5 th 2001
Bush's Prescription to stop terrorism “Get the guy who did this” But in a suicide attack he is dead. How do you find the planner? Who is a terrorist? When is a man a terrorist and when is he a freedom fighter? Is a terrorist a coward?
Did September 11 th 2001 (4000 people killed) change the world? Not mine by much. The Rape of Nanking killed 300,000 (1938) The UK air raid on Dresden 300,000 (1944) (but it was the first in America)
Globalization and its Consequences Globalization seems inevitable. Consequence of scientific break throughs (1) Communication technology (2) Biology (genome) (3) in physics. We cannot say: Stop the world I want to get off !
Bush Called Osame Bin Laden EVIL Does he compare with: Adolf Hitler? Emperor Hirohito? Saddam Hussein? There are a lot of bright people in the world Can’t one of them find a way of getting rid of that man?
Definition of a Terrorist (OED) The terrorists, as they were justly denominated, from the cruel and impolitic maxim of keeping the people in implicit subjugation by a merciless severity (1795) Several notables are believed to be more or less implicated in the acts of the Terrorists (1905) Miss G...., daughter of a Wexford terrorist, directed many of the tortures which were so extensively practiced (1866) some book of the religious terrorists which tended to infuse the alarm of foul perdition(1805)
Was Hitler and his Nazis a gang of terrorists? even though they were the legitimate government of Germany, originally elected by the people? Were opponents of Hitler terrorists? Esp. Colonel Von Stauffenburg who tried to assassinate Hitler with a bomb in a brief case?
Were the Hutus in Ruanda terrorists when they killed Tutsis although the legitimate government? Were the Young Turks terrorists when they victimized the Armenians in 1916? Or were the Armenians terrorists because they were not model citizens? Were (and are) the opponents of British rule in Ireland terrorists? Has the situation changed since partition in 1922?
Is the government of Russia guilty of terrorism against the people of Chechnya (who have as much voting power as other residents of Russia) or are the radical Chechens guilty of terrorism against Russia? Or both? Is the government of Sri Lanka acting like the Jacobins against the Tamils of the north, or are the Tamils a bunch of terrorists to be tamed?
Was the US terrorising people in WACO Texas, or fighting terrorists? Timothy McVeigh thought the former Was General Custer fighting a band of Indian terrorists, or were the Indians fighting an oppression worse than the French had experienced in 1795?
Was Castro a terrorist or a freedom fighter when he opposed the government of Batista? What about those branded by Castro as terrorists to whom the USA has given citizenship?
Is the government of Israel a terrorist government because they follow " the cruel and impolitic maxim of keeping the (Palestinian) people in implicit subjugation by a merciless severity"? Or are the Palestinians all terrorists because they belong to an organization opposing the present government of Israel and its policies and particularly in its early days, to drive them into the sea?
Possible criteria for choosing sides A terrorist is a man with a bomb and no airplane to drop it from (EM Purcell). The Azeris were bad first (Elena Bonner) "Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day; but a series of oppressions, begun in a distinguished period and pursued unilaterally thro' every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematical plan of reducing us to slavery". Thomas Jefferson (1774)
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Monachem Begin; terrorist in 1945 leader of Israel 1978 Bourgiba, jailed in Cairo, first President of Tunisia A rebellion is a Revolution that does not succeed (Victor Weisskopf) May 1940, I learned unarmed combat. Was I becoming a terrorist or a Freedom fighter?
The Planners and Financiers of Terrorism President Bush says he opposed the planners, and financiers, of terrorism. How about those in NY and Boston who financed the IRA?
Civilian or Military Targets? Are they different? Must a civilian be unarmed? What about throwing stones? Even at worshippers? Does a military target justify Collateral damage? What about the terror of Mutually Assured Destruction
Cowardly acts Are "suicide bombers" "cowardly"? Japanese Kamikaze pilots? Colonel Claus von Stauffenburg in 1944? Pilots dropping bombs on a UN refugee camp? Suicide bomber in Tel Aviv?
Step 1 The root causes of Terrorism We...... a diverse community of many races, religions, cultures and nations, commit ourselves to work for peace and justice everywhere in the world. We invite others to join in this commitment. We must and will fight ignorance, poverty, hunger, intolerance and injustice wherever and whenever they show their ugly faces. We must succeed so that no one state, no one group or even one individual will ever again have the desperation to perform such an abominable act as the attack on September 11th 2001 or shelter one of the perpetrators"
Step 2. Keeping Terrorists at Arm’s length Resolve major trouble spots before they fester Kashmir/Israel-Palestine Capitalize on present unanimity Mikhail Gorbachev urges use of UN set up in 1945 for such purposes but bypassed by USA and USSR
Step 3. Making Society Safer Do not store a lot of fuel in one place near a lot of people in one place. Oil tanks and LNGfacilities should be in remote areas. (London’s decision about Canvey in 1848) Terrorism and Sabotage already considered to some extent for nuclear power.
Imagine what a terrorist might do and devise a system to make it hard for him to do it. Event Tree Analysis
Pilots should now resist a hijacking Bar cockpit doors Hidden switch to take control of plane to ground or automatic pilot
Where were the plans for a major fire at WTC? Asbestos protects for 4 hours No asbestos above 64th floor; Helicopter fire fighters? Protect Buildings by cables from towers or balloons Irradiate all mail at sorting offices (Co60 or Cs137)
Some terrorists are now educated. Also some act in concert Sabotage and terrorism are unfortunate facts of life. They will be with us until the end of the human race.