It now appears to be the norm for NATO governments to take extreme reactions in the face of extreme yet isolated and rare acts.
What do I mean?
Instead of NATO governments looking at events which are extremely rare in the extreme, and I mean events which have never happened before, NATO governments now see these events as a reason to impose huge changes in the law and as justification to restrict people’s freedom and to dramatically increase the size of the state.
No longer do governments look at one-off events as something that should be learned from and something which should be prevented in the future.
No, now NATO governments seem to think it is appropriate to act is a completely disproportionate way to extremely rare an unusual acts.
And this creates a huge moral hazard and massively reduces the security of NATO countries.
What do I mean by moral hazard?
NATO governments and specifically the USA, the UK and Greece are shown themselves to be extremely easily manipulated in the face of a crisis.
Let me give some examples.
A once in a lifetime incident (which incidentally, the US government had a lot of intelligence prior to the event) caused the government to massively increase its power of surveillance of the US population, an event which dramatically increased the size of the federal government and which led directly to the invasion of 2 countries and led to the start of 2 wars which have been ongoing for over 10 years.
All these reactions in the face of a once in a lifetime incident which some claim could have been prevented.
This is what I mean by moral hazard. By the US and UK governments using one event as a reason to massively increase the powers of the police state and to initiate 2 wars it shows that the US and UK governments are extremely easy to manipulate.
Massive and somewhat predictable reactions can be initiated by a single act.
This type of behaviour by a government could be viewed as extremely appealing to terrorists who which to manipulate massive power to their own ends. It is appealing to terrorists as they can see the massive force that they can initiate on their behalf if they can carry out a suitably constructed terrorist plot.
The force a clever terror plot can initiate is massively more than the terrorist could hope to carry out on their own.
This massive over reaction by huge military powers can be used and manipulated by terrorists. Huge armies can do the bidding of a small group of people.
Again a terrorist attack arguably carried out by a tiny group of people yet which led the mobilisation of the British army and arguably a mobilisation that has stretched the UK military to almost breaking point.
And not only the massive military reaction to an extremely isolated event. The attacks of 7/7 also led to massive increases in the power of the domestic spy agencies such as MI5 as well as massive increase in the power of the police under anti-terror laws.
- Prevention of Terrorism Act (Northern Ireland), 1974–89
- Terrorism Act 2000
- Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (the Racial and Religious Hatred Act was supposed to be part of it as provisions, but it was dropped)
- The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 is intended to deal with the Law Lords‘ ruling of 16 December 2004, that the detention without trial of nine foreigners at HM Prison Belmarshunder Part IV of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was unlawful, being incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. It was given Royal Assent on 11 March 2005. The Act allows the Home Secretary to impose “control orders” on people he suspects of involvement in terrorism, which in some cases may derogate (opt out) fromhuman rights laws. In April 2006, a High Court judge issued a declaration that section 3 of the Act was incompatible with the right to a fair trial under article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Act was described by Mr Justice Sullivan as an ‘affront to justice’. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, JUSTICE and Liberty have opposed it. Criticism of the Act included complaints about the range of restrictions that could be imposed, the use of closed proceedings and special advocates to hear secret evidence against the detainee, and the possibility that evidence against detainees may include evidence obtained in other countries by torture.
- The Terrorism Act 2006 increased the limit of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects to 28-days after a rebellion by Labour MPs. Originally, the Government, and Prime Minister Tony Blair, had pushed for a 90-day detention period, but this was reduced to 28-days after a vote in the House of Commons. Home Office Minister Damian Green announced on 20 January 2011 that the period would revert to 14 days as the order extending the period to 28 days would be allowed to lapse at midnight on 24 January.
- The Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008 would have controversially increased the limit of pre-charge detention for terrorism suspects for 42 days. This measure was dropped from the bill after it failed to win approval in the House of Lords.
This huge reaction of the British state to an isolated event makes the UK look extremely vulnerable to other groups who which to mobilise massive forces to work in their favour.
The massive over reaction of the British state to the events of 7/7 shows how easily the British state can be manipulated and this presents an issue whereby other small groups in the future, having seen what is possible with one terrorist attack, may look at the British state and attempt to manipulate the country to do their bidding.
To give yet another example
The underwear bomber.
In response to this highly unusual event the federal government in the USA massively increased the scale of the TSA and purchased hundreds of millions of dollars of extra security equipment.
Ignoring the fact that the bomber only got on the plane with the help a smartly dressed man (as the airline staff would not allow the bomber to fly as he did not have a passport) the US government in the face of this extremely unusual and isolated event saw the need to make huge reactions which increased the size of federal government and led to massive purchasing of security equipment from private companies.
A couple, Kurt and Lori Haskell, said that while waiting to board Flight 253 at Schiphol Airport, they saw a “poor-looking black teenager around 16 or 17” who Kurt Haskell claims was Abdulmutallab with a second man, who was “sharp-dressed”, possibly of Indian descent, around 50 years old, and who spoke “in an American accent similar to my own.”
According to Lori Haskell, the second man told the ticket agent: “We need to get this man on the plane. He doesn’t have a passport.” The ticket agent said nobody was allowed to board without a passport. The well-dressed man replied: “We do this all the time; he’s from Sudan.” Lori Haskell said the two were then directed down a corridor, to talk to a manager. “We never saw him again until he tried to blow up our plane,” Haskell said of Abdulmutallab.
Only U.S. citizens are permitted to board international flights to the U.S. without passports, and even then only if the airline confirms their identity and citizenship, said a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). A CBP official and spokesman confirmed there were not any Sudanese refugees on the plane. The Dutch counter-terror agency said that Abdulmutallab presented a valid Nigerian passport and U.S. entry visa when he boarded Flight 253, and after reviewing more than 200 hours of security camera recordings, did not find any indication that he had accomplices at the airport or that he acted suspiciously there.
Haskell suggested authorities should, “Put the video out there to prove I’m wrong.” Federal agents later said they were trying to identify and find the well-dressed man. U.S. authorities had initially discounted the passenger accounts, but agents later said there was a growing belief that the man played a role in making sure Abdulmutallab “did not get cold feet”.
This type of response weakens the security of the United States massively. Massive reactions like this make the United States hugely more vulnerable to terrorist attacks in the future.
If a small terrorist group wanted to bankrupt a nation they would simply need to threaten to carry out terrorist attacks knowing that the government will react massively in response, a response which could ultimately lead to out of control government spending which in turn leads to the bankrupting of a nation.
Huge overreactions like this give manufacturers of surveillance equipment an obvious way to sell their equipment to the government.
Huge overreactions create a huge moral hazard ie these huge overreactions show to the world what even small isolated events can lead to huge responses by the government. Clever groups may be able to manipulate this over reaction to their benefit. Whether these groups want to expand their power over the american people or whether these people want to sell security equipment to the government.
And without wanting to labour the point, another example
A completely out of the blue and unprecedented event (in the fact that riots occurred in more than one area) the UK government thought it appropriate to propose laws which would restrict people’s access to the internet and also as an excuse increase the amount police resources.
This kind of reaction by a government makes the people of a country more vulnerable to such events agin in the future. Why? Because the perpetrators can see that they can get the government to take huge actions with very little effort.
If for some reason you were a person that would benefit from restricting people’s access to the internet or indeed benefit from censoring of the internet you can see that with a one-off event you can get the government to do your bidding.
It may be much cheaper, more covert and more effective to get a state to restrict internet access by instigating widespread riots then it is to lobby politicians.
And with censoring of the internet doubly so. It is hard to imagine any politician wanting to censor the internet unless it was for a very good “reason”.
If you were in the business of supplying riot equipment to the police. You can see that it is relatively easy to get the government to increase its spending on riot gear because you know the government is prone to overreaction.
Over reaction by governments make the people in that country more vulnerable not less vulnerable. Over reaction by government to isolated events massively reduces people’s freedom and security it does not make people more free and more secure.
And to repeat, government reaction to isolated events creates a huge moral hazard as parties can see the government can be manipulated into taking huge actions in the face of relatively small events.
I’m on a roll here so I will give another two examples of government overreaction making people less safe and less secure.
The 2008 financial crisis.
It has been shown in front of the world that if you threaten a government with “financial meltdown” that government will give you billions of pounds.
If governments responding in this way is not the most obvious moral hazard I do not know what is.
The 2008 crisis is the most blatant example yet of how weak and easily manipulated governments are.
And the last example I will use in this article.
The students taking over the British Embassy in Tehran
Rather than the government taking the time to investigate why the security at the embassy was so woefully inadequate, the British government has decided they should withdraw their ambassador from the country and expel the Iranian ambassador from the UK. Without it appears, investigating the event properly first.
The British Embassy Tehran is now closed.
We are currently identifying another country to act as a ‘protecting power’ for us in Iran, and will provide further guidance once this has happened.
For information about visas click here.
Any British nationals requiring urgent consular assistance can visit the Embassy of any EU Member State in Tehran, or in an emergency call the FCO in London on (+44)2070081500.
Again, this reaction shows how easily the British government is manipulated, in this case by students. This kind of action by the British government just makes british embassies and British Embassy staff all around the world targets for similar actions.
If you are a student in a country and you want that country to break of diplomatic ties with the UK it has now been spelt out to you that you simply need to take over your local British embassy and the British government will close the Embassy, pull out their Ambassador and expel your ambassador from the UK.
Reactions, childish reactions, like this by the UK government is causing Britain to become a target, it is not helping the security of the British people or their representatives.
So to summarise, huge reactions by governments in the face of isolated events makes the government look weak and makes the people of the country less secure and less free.
Whether you believe in “conspiracy theories” or not is irrelvant, whether you believe the invasion of Iraq and Afganistan was planned before 9/11, whether you believe that the government was involved in 9/11 is irrelevant.
The only relevant points here are that NATO governments are easily manipulated by isolated events. Whether you believe NATO governments were conspiring to restrict peoples freedoms or not, the fact the governments are so easily manipulated by terrorists should cause you to ask questions as to why do governments over react in the face of such events and does it help or hinder your freedom and security when your government overreacts in the way it does.