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Special Commentary – Your Business and the World Economy

Dan Bobinski
November 24 -- By Dan Bobinski

Business owners need a plan. I’m not talking about a business plan, that’s a given. I’m talking about a contingency plan for dealing with the ripple-effect of another major terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Do you remember how countless businesses lost customers and cash flow as people stopped traveling and hunkered down after the attacks in New York and Washington D.C.?

Terrorists are doing their job well – they’re talking a talk that keeps the idea of another attack on the table. While that thought is a little unsettling, the question is what if they do it again? What if they follow through on their threats and America experiences another day with huge losses of life because of such an attack?

In my opinion, for a business to neglect this very real possibility is the same as neglecting to prepare for an earthquake if you own a house built on the San Andreas fault.

You may recall that Southwest Airlines was the only U.S. airline to make a profit during the year following the September 11, 2001 tragedy. Why? Because they had positioned themselves to withstand an economic slowdown.

Although the economy in America is up at the moment, the truth of the matter is that the world is racing toward a one-world-something-or-other, and the face of our political and economic worlds are going through major changes.

Within months of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw wrote that "in a world where states and the interests of their citizens are so obviously interdependent, we need to rethink our attitudes to concepts like 'independence' and 'sovereignty'."

Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed with Straw. He said, “The war against terrorism has made national sovereignty out of date.”

Bottom line, by looking at the handwriting on the wall, the world’s economy is going to go through some major upheavals in the very near future. Recent trade war talks rumbling about between the European Union and the U.S.A. only serve to reinforce that thought.

The trigger for an economic slowdown – and possibly a major collapse – is likely going to be another large terrorist attack. But the U.S. is not the only possible target. For example, Al-Qaida has said that if Japan sends troops to help out in Iraq, a huge terrorist attack can be expected in the middle of downtown Tokyo.

In my opinion, one well-placed, large-scale terrorist attack – or worse yet, several coordinated large-scale attacks – will probably bring the world economy to a screeching halt.

Society as we know it will be changed again, as it did on September 11, 2001. Only next time the change may be more drastic.

Columnist John Edwards recently wrote about retired General Tommy Franks, who oversaw the military operation in Iraq. Discussing the hypothetical dangers posed to the U.S., “Franks said that ‘the worst thing that could happen’ is if terrorists acquire and then use a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casualties.”

“If that happens, Franks said, ‘... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy.’”

What might be the ripple effect of such an event? “Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government.”

Although some may write these things off as hyperbole, those who are concerned about their livelihoods should not stick their head in the sand. Experts recommend retiring as much debt as possible and setting some money aside for back up.

This doesn’t mean stop what you’re doing and it certainly doesn’t mean we need to live in fear. If we do, the terrorists have already won. No, this is simply a recommendation to play your cards smart and don’t over-extend yourself in these uncertain times.

Essentially, more terrorism is a very strong possibility. And to survive, we have to acknowledge that possibility and plan for it. Have you?

© 2003 Dan Bobinski / Leadership Development. Dan Bobinski is President of Leadership Development. He can be reached at (208) 375-7606 or by Email at dan@leadershipanswers.com.

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