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Category Archives: Crime and Terrorism

The Real Infinity War

Have you ever played a game with a kid who is making up the rules as they go along? And if you start winning they’ll just they change the rules until you finally just get frustrated and quit? Frustrating, isn’t it? Well, at least it is for the adult. The kid had a great time. Your frustration didn’t come from the endless rule changes, it came from not understanding the game the kid was really playing.

At the AAAE Annual Conference in San Diego, Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, gave an outstanding talk. Start With Why was one of the better books I read when I did my “50 books in 50 weeks,” project a few years back and both his speech and his new book discuss the finite versus infinite perspective.

I’m going to borrow Sinek’s comparisons here, so all credit goes to him, but think for a moment about football and the Cold War. In football, everyone knows the rules, both sides agree to adhere to them, and whoever has the most points when the clock runs out, wins. Game Over. This is a finite perspective with both sides understanding they are playing a finite game. It starts and ends and everyone know when that is and who won.

Now let’s look at the Cold War, where the United States and the former Soviet Union played a game of nuclear brinkmanship for four decades. There wasn’t a clock that said when the game was over and the rules of the game constantly changed. But both sides were okay playing because both sides realized they were playing from an infinite perspective. And just like that kids game, in an infinite game, the side that loses their resources and willpower first, loses the game.

However, the real challenge comes when one side believes they are playing an finite game, and the other side is playing an infinite game.

This country has fought most of its previous wars from a finite perspective as did most of our opponents. In WWI and WWII, the side that took the most ground won. Taking ground meant depleting the resources and willpower of the enemy. But in Vietnam, we were still playing the finite game, while the Vietcong were playing the infinite game. Unfortunately, this is the same approach the US took into the ‘war on terror,’

You still win wars by depleting the willpower or resources of the other side, but today’s terrorists don’t need to take physical ground anymore. Today’s battlefield is over the hearts and minds and if we’re not careful, we’ll lose.

After September 11th, we went to Afghanistan with the objective of finding bin Laden, kicking the Taliban out, and bombing al Qaeda back to the Stone Age (which wasn’t much of a step back for them). And as in past wars, we wanted our troops home as soon as possible, but we were now engaged in an infinite war. There won’t be a homecoming for a very long time. In this war, the winner is whoever can outlast the other side in terms of willpower and resources. This is a truth the American people and our politicians need to accept as well, and our military and homeland security tactics need to adjust accordingly, or else we’ll completely run out of resources and willpower, and then the game will be over.

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The Maginot Line Revisited

(Part 5 in a 5 part series that takes a look at whether we are safer since 9/11) Much has happened since I started this short series in August 2016: We have a new President, there’s been an active shooter at another US airport and TSA has lost its Administrator and is now floating rudderless… Continue Reading

Get Out!: Airport Evacuations, Protecting Lives and Reputations During Unplanned Events

(This article, written by myself and Lori Beckman, originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Aviation Security International Magazine, and is reprinted here with permission. To view the article in its original format, click HERE.) How do we differentiate between an evacuation and an escape? Airports have long had evacuation plans for a variety of… Continue Reading

America, it is time to answer the call once again, because we are at war (Part 1 in a series of 5)

As I sit here watching a rerun of the movie Saving Private Ryan, I am reminded of the history lessons I learned growing up and all of the books about World War II that I used to read. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the Nazis rolled through Europe, every American citizen was expected to… Continue Reading

What should you do if you’re caught in a mass-casualty incident?

The details surrounding the attack centering on Munich’s Olympia Einkaufszentrum shopping mall are still being ascertained, but one thing remains certain: The headlines announcing tragic events such as these are becoming all too common. Whether the perpetrators of these events are involved in a terrorist organization or self-radicalized, whether the weapons used are firearms, bombs,… Continue Reading

Why more TSA checkpoints are a bad idea

Seems TSA is considering putting MORE checkpoints but outside of terminal buildings. Let me count the several different ways this is a bad idea. 1. Wherever you create a checkpoint, you create a line and, you create a CHOKEpoint – huge amounts of people standing around – which is a natural place to attack. Plus,… Continue Reading

How safe are U.S. airports?

The crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 early last Thursday and the recovery of some wreckage Friday was a tragic end to a week that had begun with viral video of huge lines at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints in the United States. These two developments have understandably raised two related questions about aviation security: Are we… Continue Reading

Top 5 ways to determine if your local airport has done the right things to prevent another Brussels style attack (and 5 things YOU can do).

By Jeff Price, Professor, MSU Denver, and lead author, Practical Aviation Security: Predicting and Preventing Future Threats As the Brussels airport reopens after the devastating suicide bombing attacks last week we are all wondering what we should be doing, and how can we protect ourselves from another such attack. The first thing we can all… Continue Reading