"The Challenge of Protecting Critical Infrastructure" by Auerswald, Branscomb, La Porte, and Michel-Kerjan

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The role of infrastructure protection programs is to guarantee safety and well-being of the population and eliminate a broad range of factors that may lead to tremendous losses. It helps to assess vulnerabilities and address associated risks. The situation has become particularly problematic because of an increase in terrorist activities, which are difficult to predict, and many scholars have tried to develop recommendations and preventive measures to expand the level of safety of the infrastructure. The article under discussion is "The Challenge of Protecting Critical Infrastructure" by Auerswald, Branscomb, La Porte, and Michel-Kerjan.

Auerswald et al. (2005) start the article by discussing the role of the government in the protection of infrastructure. They suggest that one of the problems limiting the overall security of facilities is that many enterprises believe that additional expenses are unjustified and lack motivation to support the elimination of vulnerabilities. They criticize the idea that market forces can influence decision-making in this area and argue that this factor is relatively insignificant because most firms focus primarily on profits without considering risks associated with the infrastructure. About ninety-five percent of all the facilities and structures belong to the private sector, which limits the influence of the government because most citizens do not recognize the importance of globalization. Additionally, associated risks are interdependent most of the time, and it affects some industries more than others. Therefore, the authors claim that policymakers should address some limitations of the current legislation, and a close collaboration between the government and the private sector will help to increase security of infrastructure. They discuss the accident that happened in 2004 to highlight the importance of federal intervention. Policymakers failed to recognize the dangers associated with toxic-inhalation-hazard, and officials did not expect many incidents because of the failure to address this security risk.

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The authors acknowledge the fact that both sides have different priorities, and conflicting needs lead to disagreement on this subject matter. Moreover, they argue that only the government may oblige corporations to invest in preventive measures because they do not have any incentives to reduce risks. They also mention that terrorism is not the only threat to national security. Therefore, it is imperative to consider dangers associated with natural disasters when developing national programs. The authors mention that professionals in this area have started to consider the ways in which they may minimize vulnerabilities even before the September 11 attacks. Terrorist incidents facilitated the development of preventive measures and effective policies. Scholars have conducted a broad range of studies on this subject matter, but the authors of this article argue that they have numerous weaknesses. They suggest that the biggest problem is that scholars overlook the importance of such factors as competitive pressure or resource restrictions, which have a tremendous influence on the decision-making of private firms. Also, they believe that the effectiveness of protection is relatively small when it comes to terrorist attacks because they always seek vulnerable targets. Therefore, the central argument is that policymakers must prioritize the development of capabilities related to prevention and efficient response measures. Furthermore, it may help firms to recover as fast as possible and minimize associated losses. The authors also provide a list of recommendations that policymakers may consider when developing national programs. They are quite comprehensive and take the needs of the affected firms into consideration.

Another challenging aspect is that most companies focus only on factors that are directly connected to their activities because some of the links with other infrastructure elements are not clear. The authors recognize that probability of occurrence are incredibly low in some cases. Therefore, it is not surprising that most firms disregard the need to address vulnerabilities that are not clear or difficult to assess. The article shows that many business owners are more likely to act irrationally or reckless if they know that insurance protects the business. The problem is that this aspect promotes risky behavior and introduces a moral hazard. Additionally, the authors draw attention to the fact that there is no direct connection between the available security measures and the price of insurance. It is understandable that it may be difficult to determine an appropriate cost, but enterprises and the government should not overlook this issue.

It is possible to state that the article has many advantages. First of all, the authors managed to cover critical issues related to the infrastructure protection. Most of presented arguments are convincing because the authors link the discussed challenges to particular events and highlight the lack of incentives that would support cooperation from the side of the public sector. A relationship between national security and infrastructure protection is evident. Therefore, it is impossible to deny the fact that intervention from the side of the government is justified in most cases. One of the biggest strengths of the argument is that the authors recognize the necessity to limit the imposed costs because the economy of a country may suffer if the government forces firms to invest in infrastructure protection without any clear benefits. Additionally, the authors understand that the approval of the general public is also incredibly important. Such policies may affect the prices and lead to other inconveniences. Therefore, it is paramount to increase awareness and provide all the necessary information about the dangers related to vulnerabilities of the infrastructure. Moreover, it is mentioned in the article that terrorism is an enormous threat to national security, and the government should take all necessary measures to protect citizens (Martin, 2012). As it is impossible to prevent all attacks, many businesses do not want to support projects that offer relatively small benefits. The authors consider the perspective of such firms and acknowledge that insurance companies can improve their pricing strategies. They also recognize that interactions between the involved parties may help to improve national security as a whole, but it requires cooperation and well-developed policies that acknowledge the interests of all stakeholders. Another advantage of this article is that the central argument is that policymakers must prioritize sustainability over other aspects, and this approach is reasonable because it provides various benefits apart from elimination of vulnerabilities.

One of the limitations of the article is that the discussed policies increase the influence of the federal government, and the authors did not acknowledge the fact that many individuals oppose such expansion. It is understandable that well-being of the population is at risk because of the current vulnerabilities, but it is necessary to reach consensus on this subject matter before suggesting any radical measures. Moreover, the authors overlooked the impact of new technologies and did not recognize that terrorists may coordinate cyber-attacks aimed at critical infrastructure systems. They could have mentioned that such activities threaten national security because most facilities do not implement appropriate preventive measures (Amoroso, 2012). Also, they do not discuss the importance of maritime security and associated threats. The approach is questionable because ports are usually regarded as the critical part of the infrastructure and thus maritime safety levels are paramount for a country such as the United States (Lewis, 2014). Moreover, various industries may require different approaches to maximize efficiency of operations.

The most significant problem with this article is its structure. The authors did not split the presented information into sections, which makes it difficult to assess the quality of arguments. The central issue is that the authors discuss various topics without proper transitions or conclusions. Therefore, it may be challenging to find information that interests a reader. Although the data provided in the article is accurate and comprehensive, it lacks an in-depth analysis and detailed descriptions. The authors provide a list of strategies that professionals in this area may consider when dealing with some of the challenges associated with protection of critical infrastructure. However, they are too vague, and the authors do not provide additional information that would help to understand such recommendations. Nevertheless, one may regard it an excellent source that allows expanding knowledge in the area of infrastructure protection.

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In summary, the article manages to convince the target audience that the government should develop a set of policies that would support elimination of current vulnerabilities related to the infrastructure. The authors justify their statements by showing that ineffective legislation threatens national security and may lead to tremendous losses. Additionally, they provide examples of adverse effects of some of the limitations in this area and discuss the ways in which the government may address related incidents. I would recommend this article to others because the authors raise a series of important issues. However, one of the issues is that the authors focus only on a particular perspective and do not offer alternative solutions. It is understandable that the primary goal of this article was to cover the most significant problems of homeland security and explain how the government may address them, and the authors have successfully accomplished this objective. Therefore, the article is of great value for the homeland security community. However, the presented information is insufficient, and one may have to review other sources to get a better understanding of the topic. Overall, this article has both strengths and weaknesses, but positive aspects outweigh negative ones.

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