Amity Shlaes
April 1, 2011

The U.S. ended the Cold War the way a master pilot lands a fighter jet, in a sort of ecstasy of precision and the gradual reduction of force. Today that same jet is screeching around the runway, as our capacity for messy outcomes (Iraq, Libya, Egypt) expands before our eyes.

All of us have less faith in precision these days. Events such as Japan’s nuclear plant crisis or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have proven that even in the private sector, technicians are far less masters of their situations than many believed.

One place where the potential for unparalleled damage has increased is the U.S. That’s because there are more tools available to terrorists, extremists or just plain kooks now than in 2001. As John Geis, director of the Air Force Center for Strategy and Technology has been saying, people looking to make trouble have a least four new technologies at their disposal.

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