Harvey Drucker, Argonne National Laboratory
The New Approach to Dealing with Terrorism: Asymmetric Warfare.
Physics Division Colloquium - 24 May 2002

Warfare, even guerilla warfare, in the past was based on the opposition of known adversaries working within a frame of rules dictated by treaty, practice, culture or unstated agreement. There was a certain symmetry to this: a weapon produced by an adversary resulted in a counter-weapon. Combatants could agree on terms of combat, e.g., no chemical weapons, no intentional killing of non-combatants or prisoners of war. Terrorism, on the other hand, represents asymmetric warfare. There is no quid pro quo. There are no generally accepted civilities. Everything is a target; everything is a weapon. Instead of defined forces of adversaries, individuals/small groups become the enemy. Our defense against this requires new technologies for detection of potential weapons, new methods for neutralizing such weapons, and appropriate and metered response to terrorist actions. In this form of strife, a totally new approach for weapons/counter-weapons is needed: one that emphasizes speed of detection and action; economics for measures and countermeasures relevant to a given situation; an intentional search for the basic and applied science that may best fit needs that involves the broadest span of institutions and individuals. We believe that Argonne may serve as a model for what might be done and how to proceed.

ANL Physics Division Colloquium Schedule