can we stop bank robbers in their tracks? A politician might suggest
doubling the number of guards to calm the public and intimidate would-be
thieves. A policeman might recommend bolstering physical security, by
installing more video cameras, combination locks and metal gates. A
judge might suggest increasing legal penalties for armed robbery, to
discourage potential accomplices and sway the gullible from a life of
crime. These approaches are well-meaning, yet remain, at best, tedious,
expensive and arbitrary; no matter how great the resolve, you simply
cant anticipate every threat to every bank in the country. Fortunately
there is another solution, inspired by Willie Sutton's famous refrain
for why he robbed banks: "Because that's were the money is."
If banks no longer distributed hard currency--turning over the payment
function to smart debit cards--and became mere financial service centers,
bank robberies would stop.
far, society prefers to absorb the cost of bank robberies rather than
moving to a cash-free economy, Yet Suttons practical observation
offers an important clue to addressing a challenge which our society
does judge intolerable: terrorism. The most effective solution to terrorism
is neither better offense nor defense. Rather, it is to take away
the ball. Creatively eliminate the tools and targets of terrorism,
and you go a long ways toward eliminating the terrorist.
we, for example, stop airplanes from doubling as aerial suicide bombs?
Answer: Sponsor more research on fuel additives to prevent jet fuel
from catching fire. NASA, among other labs, has investigated such
fuel-inerting and anti-misting technologies,
but progress to date is modest due to inadequate funding and industry
support  . How do we stop
fertilizer from doubling as a bomb-making ingredient? Answer: Eliminate
the need for conventional fertilizer, by developing crops capable
of fixing nitrogen from the air. Some plants, like soybeans, have
evolved bacteria-filled nitrogen-fixing nodules in their roots- molecular
biology and plant breeding techniques could transfer this important
characteristic to other crops
 . How do we keep our central water supply safe from
bio-terrorists? Answer: A water purifier in every building and every
home. New technologies, combining ozone, ultraviolet, mechanical and
carbon filtration can eliminate every possible impurity from volatile
organics to viruses.
an approach not only makes tactical sense, it makes strong economic
sense as well. Fuel that fails to catch fire outside an engine, would
reduce the costs, both in material and in lives, of non-terrorist-induced
air and auto accidents. New nitrogen-fixing crops would save the
energy-costs required to manufacture and ship petroleum-based fertilizers
to the farm. They would also reduce our dependence on foreign oil,
while helping America spread peace and stability by lowering the cost
of large-scale agriculture and feeding millions in undeveloped countries.
On-location water purification would enable the economic recycling
of "gray" waste water in suburbia, as well as provide an
inexpensive source of drinkable water to many of the world's poor.
of this activity would, of course, do much to lessen the short-term
hit to our economy from the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the National
Governor`s Association  and other agencies, in the first year alone the
terrorist campaign will drain over three hundred billion dollars from
the already wounded American economy. Every dollar spent fighting
this war of attrition is a stunning blow to world productivity, and
will inevitably be followed by an echo of inflation, followed by a
lowered standard of living. The events of Sept. 11 were, indeed,
attacks on a way of life, and their effectiveness must be judged not
only by lost lives, but of lost livelihoods, as well.
becomes imperative for us to begin to think creatively about ways
to prevent this short-term cycle from turning into a longer-term spiral.
Not only may the war on our current terrorist enemies stretch indefinitely
into the future, but new terrorist enemies, aware as never before
of our weaknesses, may well attempt to exploit them in the years ahead.
is where a coordinated campaign to combine terrorism prevention with
economic growth becomes crucial. We have ample precedent for such
a campaign. In the last twenty years, the government has recognized
that military technologies are too expensive to develop independently,
and are best carried on the back of civilian applications. Often called
dual use technologies, they include the integrated circuit
(first used in Minuteman missiles  ) which now power video display
cards everywhere from kids bedrooms to military situation rooms.
And reliable civilian golf carts carry landscapers to
parks in America; yet slightly repurposed, serving as low cost battlefield
ambulances in Afghanistan. 
technologies offer dual economies to the war on terrorism. They reduce
, by increasing production volume. But, just as importantly,
they expand the base of users, thus greatly expanding the base of
smart people working diligently to improve those very same technologies.
Cheaper products and more brain power- a powerful one-two punch!
even the doctrine of dual-use technologies is still insufficient leverage
for the war on terrorism. Banks might adopt consumer video cameras
for surveillance, and fly radio controlled model airplanes to track
getaway cars, but banks would still be robbed and innocent bystanders
to Willie Sutton: Its not the bank, its the money. Replacing
fertilizer with nitrogen-fixing plants, and making fuel less flammable,
are more effectively described as "deny-use" technology-
the next level in evolution from dual-use.
taken logically to its conclusion, "deny-use" should extend to our weapons systems themselves. A common terrorist scenario,
for example, involves the firing of a shoulder launched stinger missile
against Air Force One or the Capital. The chance of stopping this
kind of attack is very limited, depending almost entirely on interdiction
by counter-intelligence methods.
think for a moment about how those weapons ended up in terrorist hands.
In all likelihood, the U.S. produced them and gave them to a friendly
power. As years pass, however, such weapons often find their way into
unfriendly hands. How can this threat be neutralized by the doctrine
of deny-use? Answer: We could design our weapons to degrade
over three to five years so that the rocket fuel and explosives would
be inoperable a decade later.