Advancing a Free Society

Imperiled by Innovation

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Imagine that the Gulf oil spill had taken place as a consequence of a premeditated attack, rather than an accident. The damage is the same as it was; the oil flowed in the same volume. The only difference is volition: In this dark fantasy, someone meant to do it.

In this counter-factual scenario, we would immediately recognize the event not merely as a disaster but as the most successful assault on the United States since September 11, 2001. We would notice something else as well: The United States government—despite its ability to project military force anywhere in the world—lacked the capacity to defend the country effectively and swiftly against this particular attack. That capacity, rather, lay in the hands of a private corporation, one of a select group of corporations that have proven enormously innovative in off-shore oil drilling. Only these corporations have the technological and logistical capacity to defend the country against the national security events their very innovations can now bring about.

Continue reading Benjamin Wittes at our sister site Defining Ideas