Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Threat Gap

It's been a while since I complained about the Homeland Security Advisory System, but I just learned today that it is basically copied from the French Vigipirate system.

Now, that doesn't bother me. You never caught me ordering "Freedom Fries," or pouring Champagne into anything but a glass bound for a table. What bothers me is that the French have more threat than we do! Yes, ladies and gentleman, there is a Threat Gap, and the French are winning! As you can see from the helpful graphic here, the French have dispensed with the useless peacenik levels of Green and Blue, but have developed a greater Threat Capacity through the deployment of the the color scarlet. (It's not pink, it's scarlet, y'hear?) "Menace certaine," they say. What threat can we possibly field against such a menace?

In fact, I fear that the epistemological sophistication of the French system (or, as they say, "systeme") allows for development even beyond what our system is capable of deploying without radical readjustment. Our system, as you can observe, while having a significant hue element, is, in fact, based on altitude. Low, general, elevated…The problem is that if we develop another threat level, the only place we can get any higher is in orbit. And, quite frankly, if we put the terrorists in orbit, I'm quite happy to leave them there.

A brief aside: I don’t have the stomach today to confront the appalling knowledge that while we have "threats", the French are armed with "menaces." When I think on such a prima facie difference in fear, I feel like a cop in a blue uniform, when the criminals get to wear black.

The French, on the other hand, have merely to develop NEW COLORS, because their system is based on ACTUAL METHOD. Yes, six years ago, it seemed that political expedience was a serious threat to our freedoms (I recall that right, right?), but, as Donald Rumsfeld knew quite well, the upper limit to what you can know is the facts at hand; the French acknowledge this with their first level, "No indications of threat." When they get to yellow, it is an "imprecise threat"--the dawning knowledge that we're not sure what we know. Red is a "probable threat"--the point at which, scarily, we know what we don't know. And red is "Certain threat"--when we know what we know, and it ain't pretty.

What you may not realize is that this leaves French Threat Engineers only at the mercy of their painters in developing at least two more threat levels: The point at which a threat is being actualized for one, and the point at which an actualized thread is being analyzed. And, I'm realizing with horror that the French academy has already been enlisted as a skunkworks for yet another level: the point at which discourse analyzing an actualized menace is in turn analyzed! It is possible that certain scientists from institutions such as The University of Chicago may be ready to confront this future level of Threat, but who knows if we can close the Threat Gap by that point?

Call your congressman today! We demand a Scarlet Menace, and won't feel properly unsafe until we have it!


Jennifer said...

I think it was in Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law when the terror alert level was raised to some tartan, and then all the way up to "the cover of Rush's seminal album, Moving Pictures!"

bats left, looks right said...

Great to read in light of our upcoming travel plans - wish we were headed back to France instead of Germany!