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Newtown, Beslan, Ma’alot: Defending the Targeted School

Soft targets will always be attractive to the murderous.

by
Abraham H. Miller

Bio

December 18, 2012 - 12:00 am
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Years ago when I was a counterterrorism consultant, I was acquainted with Robert Kupperman, once the chief scientist for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. A mathematician by profession, Kupperman had an in instinctual understanding of trends and patterns. He warned years earlier that a 9/11-type of event was highly probable, and it should be planned for. By that, he meant a dramatic event on American soil that underscored all the theatrics and mass casualties that terrorists strive to achieve. We should have been simulating such an event. After all, that is what counterterrorism is supposed to be about — anticipating the enemy and stopping him before he strikes.

Kupperman was perceived by well-meaning liberals as an alarmist.

They were convinced that anyone who had the tactical sophistication to pull off such an attack also possessed the political sophistication not to do it. That was the liberal mantra beginning with the Carter administration and embraced by the Clinton administration.

The incident in Newtown was precipitated by a deranged individual and not an organized terrorist group. Yet it illustrates the vulnerability of our schools. Imagine a Beslan-style attack on one of our large urban high schools in a major metropolitan area, where the media’s insatiable appetite for good visuals and dramatic events could be fed. Imagine that you have not a deranged twenty-year-old but a group of well-trained terrorists who are prepared to withstand a siege.

Think your feel-good petitions for more gun control will stop it?

Harden the schools as targets. For as sure as there was a Beslan and a Ma’alot, there will be another Newtown, and one where the perpetrators are not deranged amateurs, but well-trained terrorists bent on a suicide mission.

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Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association.
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