Wednesday, April 15, 2009

what Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Police Chief William Bratton’s success in lowering crime in New York City has to do with the piracy issue today.


Broken Windows and Somali Pirates .................

........what Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Police Chief William Bratton’s success in lowering crime in New York City has to do with the piracy issue today. ..........................

Navy Seals: 3, Somali Pirates: 0

The good news came on Easter Sunday. All Americans said a prayer of thanks when three eagle-eyed Navy Seals freed American Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates with just three shots.

By simply doing their job, honorably and effectively, these remarkable men set the right standard for a civilized world. And give credit to President Obama for authorizing the use of force to protect the captain.

But are you ready for the bad news? Here it is: The Seals’ show of strength and leadership was a singular event in a dangerous world.

In New York In the 1970s, Civilization Was Giving Way to Predators

Do you remember New York City in the 1970s? It seems like every other car parked on the street had a sign posted in its window that said: “No Radio.”

These “No Radio” signs were a white flag of surrender to the rampant crime that terrorized New York in the 1970s. They were a signal that the criminals were winning; the ultimate sign of the weakness of civilization in the face of the uncivilized: Predators, aggressors and thieves.

Much like New York 30 years ago, the world today is full of predators and aggressors constantly testing the limits of what they can get away with. They prey on the weak and the innocent. And the signal they are receiving from America and the civilized world is that there are no consequences for their bad behavior.

Hanging Up a “No Radio” Sign in the International Arena

We are back to hanging up “No Radio” signs. And the Somali pirates are just the latest example.

• North Korea fires a long-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon deliberately on the day the President is giving a big speech on nuclear disarmament, and the civilized world wrings it hands and talks about legal conventions.
• The Iranian dictatorship cheerfully announces that is has 7,300 centrifuges to make nuclear bombs and nothing happens.
• Hamas fires a few more missiles into Israel and everyone ignores it.
• Pakistan transfers power to the Taliban in its North West Frontier and the world stands idly by.
• There’s a Mexican drug war going on that barely makes the newspapers.
• And as Rich Galen points out, there are still approximately 260 hostages being held by Somali pirates. Two more ships were seized Tuesday. But you never hear about them because they’re not Americans.

Strength Works Against Predators -- Weakness Only Invites More Predation

As mayor, Rudy Giuliani, along with his police commissioner, William Bratton, transformed New York by doing something very simple in conception but very difficult in execution.

Giuliani and Bratton cleaned up crime in New York by showing that strength works against predatory aggressors.

Weakness only invites more predatory aggression.

Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Bratton were inspired by a theory developed by social scientist James Q. Wilson and criminologist George Kelling called the “broken windows” theory.

If Criminals Believe There are No Consequences, More (And Worse) Crime Will Follow

The Broken Windows theory simply states that if a building has a broken window that is not fixed, the message is sent that no one cares. Vandals believe there will be no consequences for their bad behavior, and consequently, worse behavior will follow.

However, fixing the broken window sends a message that people care about their community and are watching, which deters crime.

Giuliani and Bratton acted on the insights of the Broken Windows theory to transform New York from one of the most dangerous cities in America to the safest big city in the country by treating minor crimes like vandalism, prostitution, and loitering like broken windows.

They deployed police to where they were most needed using the CompStat (computer statistics) system. And instead of tolerating these crimes and showing weakness to criminals and would-be criminals, the police showed strength. They instituted a “zero tolerance” policy for so-called minor crimes.

When other criminals witnessed this show of strength, they were deterred. Citizens, meanwhile, felt safer walking the streets and taking the subway. They took more responsibility for their neighborhoods and helped make them safer as well.

In New York, restoring a sense of order to the streets meant that police didn’t have to spend all their time responding to actual crime. Their show of strength inspired citizens to care more for their own communities and deterred criminals from committing crimes in the first place.

President Obama Should Take a Lesson from the Wilson, Giuliani, Bratton and Reagan Playbook

This is a lesson that all those who now dismiss the Somali pirates as “distractions” would do well to learn.

It’s a lesson that Ronald Reagan, in addition to Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Bratton, well understood. ..........Rendezvous with Destiny, the time America spent under the presidency of Jimmy Carter was a four-year lesson in the perils of weakness.

Ronald Reagan moved America from weakness to strength with astounding speed, and the end of the existential threat to America of the 20th century, the Cold War, was the result.

President Obama should take a page from James Q. Wilson, Rudy Giuliani, William Bratton and Ronald Reagan’s playbook:

Strength works. Weakness fails.

We need a strategy to end piracy.