Washington is organizing and funding national security with a Cold War paradigm ill-suited for preparedness vis-à-vis asymmetric threats. This paradigm predisposes Americans to accept uncritically that more resources must be expended on counter-terrorism to prevent attacks.
Alone, this Maginot Line/Mississippi levee-mindset fails to provide all-hazards security for the homeland. If applied to fire safety, building managers would focus more resources on smoke detectors than sprinkler systems. However, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina illustrates what happens when in effect a fire occurs and overwhelms inadequate sprinkler systems—i.e., if prevention fails.
Non-state adversaries declared war on the United States. They said they will pursue it using weapons of mass destruction, including improvised nuclear devices. As for the likelihood of such a device detonating on U.S. soil, virtually every national and homeland security leader has said, "It's a question of when, not if."
And yet, these leaders fail to organize and prepare the nation for a nuclear detonation in an American city, a category five hurricane making landfall, or pandemic flu. Why?