Monday, April 20, 2015
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Published: Tuesday, 2/20/2007

If You're Gonna Worry, At Least Worry About What Matters


11:15 A.M.

Do you have kids?

You know that moment when the phone rings, and on the other end you hear an apologetic voice say: Hi, I m calling from XYZ School and

Earlier this morning I got that call, along with the dreaded words fever and chills and just doesn t feel too well.

Close laptop lid. Turn off coffee pot. Put on jacket. Get in car. Turn on radio.

As sorry as I am that my daughter is under the weather, I am on the other hand glad to have been forced into the car: It gave me a chance to catch some of Diane Rehm s show on NPR, where guest Stephen Flynn made some thought-provoking points during the course of discussing his latest book, "The Edge of Disaster."

Flynn is a security expert and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He's also a former U.S. Coast Guard commander. He thinks that our homeland security policy is off course, that it's a misguided attempt to ward off all terrorist attacks a futile exercise.

The most compelling lesson we should have learned on 9/11, Flynn says in his new book, is that our borders are unable to provide an effective barrier against the modern terrorist threat.

The United States, he argues, would be better off developing its sense of resilience. We should worry a little less about if we re hit again, and worry a little more about how we ll cope when indeed we are.

And putting all our worry eggs in the terrorism basket is another serious miscalculation. From Flynn s book:

In a report on disaster preparedness released in June 2006, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found that only one quarter of state emergency operations plans and 10 percent of municipal plans are sufficient to cope with a natural disaster or terrorist attack. The majority of plans cannot be characterized as fully adequate, feasible or acceptable to manage catastrophic events.

I m not doing justice to the fascinating conversation between Rehm and Flynn, but that s OK. You can listen for yourself here.

Flynn must have been making the NPR rounds today. He was also a guest on Morning Edition. I missed it because, well, I don t much like noise of any sort in the morning, not even the polite murmurings of NPR. But you can click here to listen, as well as read an excerpt of The Edge of Disaster.

Gotta run. It s lunchtime, and someone needs chicken soup.

In the meantime, here's today's column.

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