Threats to national security aren’t as predictable now as they were during the Cold War. The one thing many recent threats have in common is that they are “asymmetric” — they aim to attack America where it is least ready to respond. Given that fact, it seems likely that biowar — the military use of pathogens against target populations — lies in our future. Why? Because the nation is dreadfully unprepared, the means for engineering novel microorganisms is becoming accessible to diverse actors, and the potential impact is huge. John Barry’s The Great Influenza (2004) is a useful guide to the coming plague years. Barry recounts in great detail the ravages visited on America and the world by the Spanish flu pandemic that began in 1918. It killed many millions, and degraded the fighting ability of armies on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, America’s enemies could synthesize pathogens of even greater virulence than the Spanish flu, and devastate America. We need to be far better prepared than we are. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
Find Archived Articles: