Rudolph Giuliani's Resilient Society

I’ve always liked Rudy Giuliani. If you look at his history, this is a man who resembles everything a civil servant should be. From his time as Mayor of New York City, when he made Manhattan a place where it’s safe to walk the streets at night, to his time in the 70s and 80s working for the Department of Justice attacking corruption in Government and taking on Organized Crime. This is a man who’s devotion to public service has shown through the last several decades of not only his work, but his tumultuous, and all to often highly publicized, personal relationships.

With that said, I don’t think that Giuliani will possibly earn a Republican nod for the presidency this year. A large part of this is the poor handling he’s received from his campaign managers, who have allowed him to be turned into a candidate who stands only on his electoral position during the September 11, 2001 attacks, and who is wholly unable to be a decent husband. Of course, the inability to be a decent husband shouldn’t be too much of a detriment after sitting through 8 years of Bill Clinton. To Giuliani’s campaign director, where is all the history of Giuliani’s fighting against organized crime and corruption? You want to win the Republican nomination, but you refuse to talk about the bribery conviction of Bertrand Podell? What about the famous Mafia Commission Trial? Giuliani certainly provided strong leadership in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, but his public service record is so much more, and so much more impressive than much of his competition.

All that aside, Giuliani recently wrote an Op-ed piece for the City Journal, entitled The Resilient Society. In it, he discusses America’s successes in combating terrorism both at home at abroad, and why we have so much more to do. The piece may seem sensationalist at first, latching on to the community of fear that exists in this country today, and that Giuliani almost seems to have been building his campaign on. Digging deeper into the article, while it seems Giuliani may be over emphasizing the risk of another terrorist attack on American soil, his key message is clear.

America should always hope for the best, but we will be safest if we prepare for the worst. A free and open society will never be able to eliminate risk entirely. But we can reduce it and manage it.

He proposes many things, some of which would take decades to fully implement, but in the end could make us all safer, without infringing further on personal liberty. In New York City, under his watch, the NYPD implemented CompStat, a combination of procedure and technology that has aided the NYPD in managing crime in their streets. It is a process which sits on top of existing data structures to make it easy for Police officials to map crime patterns, and determine how best to utilize resources. While Giuliani may not have been instrumental in the development and implementation of this system, he does have direct proof of it’s effectiveness, and it helped his job of cleaning up New York immensely.

By extending the ideas learned under the CompStat program to other disciplines, such as Border Control and Emergency Response, we can better analyze trends, and focus on how to respond to them far more efficiently. These analysis systems would allow officials to respond far faster to events which may not seem abnormal on first glance. If a city like Chicago begins to see a spike in Mercury poisining cases at the local hospitals, this could be automatically brought to someones attention faster than if it depended on a single institution or individual noticing and reporting the trend. Admittedly, an automated notification process will likely result in a fair number of false positives, but false positives will be reported early enough that they can be investigated without a panic being raised. It is unclear if such a program is as helpful as Giuliani claims, though in my mind better methods of analyzing patterns (which incident databases and GIS can provide), are never going to hurt.

CompStat style programs help to fulfill Giuliani’s first Homeland Security principle of Prevention, particularly when paired with improved communications between agencies at local, state, and federal levels. However, he does acknowledge that nothing is perfect, and that we need to be prepared in case of emergency. Unfortunately, not everyone is prepared enough. As Guiliani states, Hurricane Katrina proved that we are not always as prepared as we need to be, though I place that blame firmly on the shoulders of the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana, though their failure has forced FEMA to change their role to be more proactive. Giuliani attributes much of the City of New York’s success in responding to the 9/11 attacks to the emergency drills ran by civil servants throughout the city, which helped prepare everyone for the event, even though they’d never run a drill for that particular event.

Traditionally, American’s have always been quick to preparation, which is why it saddened me so much to see such an immense failure in the City of New Orleans. RACES holds regular drills for amateur radio operators to prepare for emergency conditions, the National Guard (as heavily utilized as they are in Iraq) trains regularly to be prepared to respond in defense of the homeland. All across the country citizens prepare in the event of a disaster.

Yet somehow, the city of New Orleans was caught completely unaware when Hurricane Katrina came barreling down on it. There was a complete failure to prepare from the local to state to federal levels. I believe it wasn’t the Federal Government’s responsibility to prepare, but perhaps they should have tried to step in when the incompetence of Louisiana and New Orleans became apparent.

Despite the lack of preparedness in that circumstance (which I believe to be a unique instance), the resilience of Americans was proven in the aftermath. Giuliani describes a charity organization being formed within 72 hours of the hurricane, that was able to move 75 times the number of supply trucks into the devastated city as FEMA within a week of creation.

In December of 1941, once the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and President Roosevelt declared war, the American people banded together, turning over huge amounts of supplies to be recycled in support of the war effort. The sacrifices made by Americans at home to support the war abroad was significant, and in the end, the resiliency of the American people and their willingness to band together to help no doubt aided in ending the war.

Global Disasters, the American people always give far more than any other nation. Just because our government isn’t writing the check, doesn’t mean that the people aren’t giving. As a whole, the American people are concerned and generous when it comes to disasters either at home or abroad, and it is our preparation and resiliency that make us able to do that.

Giuliani’s writing helped to remind me why this country is so great. Why this country is the greatest nation on the planet. While I disagree with some of his points, particularly about the Patriot Act and the use of civilian informants, I believe that the systems he describes can be implemented in such a way that trends quickly become evident.

I don’t think Rudy Giuliani is going to win the Presidency. I just hope that whoever does takes into account some of what he’s had to say. By focusing on Prevention, Preparedness, and Resiliency, we can begin to restore some of the lustre to this country. Giuliani wants to make this country truly secure, and not the bizarre fear culture in which we live today.