Published here August 2002


Musings Index

September Eleven: All else pales by comparison

The horrendous act of terrorism that we have witnessed in New York City on Tuesday September 11th [2001] and the graphic video clips shown worldwide on TV will be forever imprinted on the minds of today's generation. The sheer enormity of the act and the unfolding horror in real time demonstrated the frailty of human life. For all those touched by this monumental disaster, not just US citizens but citizens from around the world, we extend our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences. It could have been any one of us.

Of course there must be a proper period of mourning and the natural reaction tends to be one of frustration and hence of indiscriminate revenge. However, we earnestly hope that saner thoughts will prevail. To misquote Einstein "We cannot solve the problem at the same level as that in which we allowed it to happen". What is required is a superior strategy, carefully constructed and assiduously asserted — not in terms of blanket forgiveness, but in terms of focused democratic justice. We might easily divert here and ask what does our collective idea of democratic justice constitute, but that's hardly appropriate to this web site.

No amount of post-trauma hand wringing will eradicate our evident lack of vigilance and determined protection of our particular way of life. Our whole approach to North American national security and the meaning of national borders, both ours and theirs whoever "they" maybe, must be re-thought. We certainly don't support discrimination and racism (whatever that means) but perhaps a strong dose of the right sort of political correctness at home would not come amiss. But that is another political issue hardly appropriate here.

Having said all of that, one cannot help but wonder at the audacity of the perpetrators and marvel at their technical and logistical proficiency. The real lesson of this incident is that someone devised a masterly strategy and recruited a dedicated team. Those who carried out this mission were each individually very well trained, very well coordinated, very well disciplined, exceptionally goal focused and with a tremendous willingness for personal self-sacrifice towards that goal. In this case, difficult to understand maybe, but until we show the same resolve to defend our (respective) countries we shall see yet more of the same.

In our line of business, we call it project management, or rather, program management. In the hands of the wrong people, we have just witnessed an awful demonstration of its power. A very scary thought. First we had the melt-down of the industry, now we have the literal meltdown of very tangible real assets. This is not a case of natural disaster but a calculated and vicious attack on the central symbol of our western civilization. In all humility we cannot help but question the wisdom of stuffing large numbers of people into vertical steel and concrete boxes and calling them prime real estate.

After all the pontification is over we must ask ourselves the serious question of what to do? Another project of similar dimensions to rebuild what we've just lost? In this case, we rather think not — that would hardly be learning from experience. Perhaps a tranquil open area would be more fitting, a park-like space dedicated to all those who lost their lives — and as a stark reminder of the folly of man and its 20th century technology.

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