Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:29 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:29 | SYDNEY

Counter-terrorism costs and benefits


Stephen Grenville

5 February 2008 13:39

Funny thing. In other areas we, as a society, have no trouble finding a reasonably sensible balance between prevention and post-crisis response. On the roads, for instance, we know we could save lives by spending more money straightening curves, and engineers even do estimates of cost-per-life saved. The 1995 Kobe earthquake killed many more people and did far more property damage than 9/11, and yet the preventative response has been modest. But there was something about 9/11 which created a different calculus for anti-terrorist security. No expenditure was too large; no measure too inconvenient for daily life. Anything could be justified on the off-chance that it might prevent the next attack. So we not only need to get used to the idea that, as Sam argues, 'some will get through', but to the idea that we should weigh costs against likely benefits.