Why the Pentagon could use a lesson in risk management

Reporter Sharon Weinberger of DANGER ROOM fame has written an insightful takedown of the bizarre shopping habits of the U.S. Department of Defense: Imagine if your investment counselor told you to invest in asteroid collision insurance: You wouldn’t buy it, out of sheer common sense. You would go broke insuring against every contingency, no matter ...

By , a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.
594337_080701_weinberger25.jpg
594337_080701_weinberger25.jpg

Reporter Sharon Weinberger of DANGER ROOM fame has written an insightful takedown of the bizarre shopping habits of the U.S. Department of Defense:

Reporter Sharon Weinberger of DANGER ROOM fame has written an insightful takedown of the bizarre shopping habits of the U.S. Department of Defense:

Imagine if your investment counselor told you to invest in asteroid collision insurance: You wouldn’t buy it, out of sheer common sense. You would go broke insuring against every contingency, no matter how minute the risk. Perhaps worse, you might end up forgoing insurance against a more likely risk, like a flood, because you protected yourself from a near infinitesimally small risk.

“Why should we expect the Pentagon to treat risk any differently than anyone else?,” Weinberger asks. And yet the DoD continues to buy futuristic weapons systems designed to combat distant, unlikely threats, while underinvesting in the very real dangers of today.

Weinberger has also just published a fantastically creative new book, A Nuclear Vacation Family Vacation, which she coauthored with husband Nathan Hodge. The book may be the world’s first on the soon-to-be burgeoning field of nuclear tourism. Weinberger and Hodge take an “atomic road trip” to find out what’s happening in the spooky nuclear-weapons field, visiting some of the world’s most secretive installations and drawing insights about our new atomic age.

Check it out, and be sure to read “The Pentagon’s Doomsday Men” as well.

Blake Hounshell is a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.

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