DP4736 Public Safety and the Moral Dilemma in the Defense Against Terror

Author(s): Raphaël Franck, Arye L. Hillman, Miriam Krausz
Publication Date: November 2004
Keyword(s): counter-terrorism, Defense economics, defensive preemption, international judges, profiling, terror
JEL(s): D81, H56
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=4736

The economic theory of defense has traditionally described public safety as achieved through investments that deter adversaries. Deterrence is however ineffective, and preemptive defense is required, when a population of intended victims confronts supreme-value suicide terror. A moral dilemma then arises, since preemption may impose collective punishment, while, in the absence of preemption, the population of intended victims is exposed to acts of terror. We consider how a population of intended terror victims confronts the moral dilemma, and compare the threatened population?s response with the public-safety recommendations of external judges who are not personally affected by the threat of terror.