ANSWER THE DOOR
IT’S EBOLA & the ISIS Headhunters
With Our Teaching Moment
A WEAKENED NATION IS LIKE A WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM
Analysis by Jay B Gaskill
Also posted at – http://jaygaskill.com/HopeAndChallenge.htm
I: SUICIDAL IDIOTS BEARING ARMS
For a host of reasons, philosophical, historical and situational, the USA is the last best hope of Western civilization. The USA is virtually the only creative-adaptive model of modern civilization that still has the capacity to defend itself and, in selected instances, to defend key elements of modern civilization that are at threat elsewhere. But capacity without the will to act, especially in the defense of civilization, is a short-lived exercise in suicidal risk-taking.
At no time in the last 80 years (i.e., since the decade before the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 has our nation) our nation seemed as much like a toy tiger as it does now. But this analysis goes far beyond mere military preparedness. We are disabled and disarmed at several levels, including the moral, biological psychological, and strategic. Nature always provides teaching moments to those willing to recognize them. The tragedy is that we have so far ignored our teaching moments.
The Islamist fanatics have been seeking a nation to control and convert, creating a new force in world affairs, an “Islamostan,” a radically fundamentalist Islamic state endowed with superpower status by virtue of its control of deliverable nuclear weapons. This goal was evident to many analysts back during the second Clinton term, when the first World Trade Center attack was made, the USS Cole was bombed, and other attacks took place around same time, all against Western targets, all driven by the same fundamentalist, suicidal Islamic ideology. The 9-11-01 attacks on major US targets were part of the same attack pattern, and resulted in a temporary awakening among members of the US security establishment. Flash forward to the sudden appearance of ISIS in Iraq and nearby territories, well-funded, well organized, totally brutal and explicitly devoted the end of western civilization. If you trace the logistics and the money, you discover Iran. If we follow Iran, we find an atomic bomb program on the verge of the point of no return. And why should Fortress America worry?
Iran has almost enriched enough uranium to make several atomic bombs. All it will take is a comparatively short run with its centrifuges, and possibly within a few months – far less than a year- they will be able to announce, “We have the bomb!” and thereafter no Western power will dare take them on directly. The radical regime controlling Iran already has long range (not yet intercontinental) missiles. The ‘hands-off, we already have the bomb” moment will buy them all the time they need to build an arsenal. Iran is supporting ISIS.
Now, this is what you probably do not know:
New climate modeling estimates, reworking the “nuclear winter” scenarios of the 1960’s, now raise the dire prospect that a much smaller nuclear exchange will have equally catastrophic world consequences. There are new, chilling research findings, using more powerful computers than were available in the 1960s, jointly released by Alan Robock, professor of climatology at Rutgers University and associate director of the school’s center for environmental Prediction, and Owen Brian Toon, chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a fellow of the laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics there.
Even a small regional nuclear bomb outbreak can “cripple global agriculture” with “the effects [that] would last for at least 10 years” dramatically reducing food supplies and producing mass starvation directly affecting “around one billion people” and indirectly affecting all the rest.
This was never just about Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other single theater of armed conflict and unrest in the region or the world. It was and is about restraining and eventually disarming a 12th century, fundamentalist jihad that is seeking to use 21st century weapons and the platform of a superpower Islamist state or coalition. This vision potentially unites the Muslim nations of the Middle East in one glorious purpose: to use war to cancel the unjust sense of inferiority visited on them by the decadent modern societies that have out-produced and outperformed them on almost every measurable level. Even the Saudi royal family ISIS is a dangerous apostasy and Iran is a mortal enemy to be stopped.
I have compared this entire situation with a Star Trek episode wherein the Enterprise sent a crew down to study a primitive culture. When some of the loosely primitive aliens wrapped got their hands on a modern weapon, Captain James Kirk made short work of problem. No phases left behind. Flash to the present day: We modern earthlings still have some tribes with 12th century minds, neighbors who are acquiring 21st century weapons. The cultural and civilization gap is approximately the same as that between the enterprise crew and the aliens, yet we dither. Yes, we dither while not being able to say, “Beam us up, Scotty!” No, we are stuck on the same planet with these dangerously suicidal fools.
Ebola, a kind of viral hemorrhagic fever, is now an ugly, quite deadly pandemic that has killed thousands by sweeping through Western Africa; and it now has found its way through the porous borders of Europe and the USA. Complacent US officials began by asserting that we will never be in any real danger because, after all, we are not a third world country. But pandemics expand exponentially; and even a first world country’s medical system like ours lacks the capacity to isolate and treat more than a few thousand infected patients all at once. Here is the elephant in the room: Even a “small” epidemic of Ebola inside the USA would wreak havoc by crippling transportation and overwhelming the US medical system for all the “lower priorities” – i.e., almost everything else that requires a hospital setting.
All viruses mutate. Typically they start in an animal population before they find their way into a human one. For a time they propagate in small human populations but eventually break out. Without proactive containment any one of several pathogens can spread rapidly through any population, given the right conditions.
The easiest infections to contain – at least under modern conditions – are the bloodborne ones, such as Hepatitis A, B & C, West Nile and AIDS. Bloodborne viruses can be sexually transmitted by individuals who are not symptomatic. AIDS was – and is – no trivial threat.
The airborne pathogens are exceedingly difficult to contain. The liquid and infected-blanket infection vectors for Ebola, smallpox and its epidemiological cousins represent more a containable threat than airborne contagion vectors do. But infected bodily fluids can easily travel through the air. An airborne variant of Ebola is just a mutation away.
The problem with deadly plagues that get out of the box is that the resulting chaos destroys or profoundly degrades civil society. The set of liberties and protective institutions that make a creative civilization like ours possible are more fragile than most people realize. Fear can dissolve any civil government into authoritarian tyranny in a matter of months.
Dangerous pandemics, like deadly Ebola virus, and virulent, atavistic ideologies, like the ISIS jihad, can always erupt outside the boundaries of advanced civilizations. But in the profoundly interconnected world of the early twenty first century, our boundaries are so porous that external threats swiftly mutate into grave internal problems.
The current American administration has been far less than vigilant, competent and effective in addressing these threats, stubbornly treating each large scale threat pattern as a scattering of disparate, almost one-off events.
Now, not later, is the opportunity, the perfect time to inaugurate and deploy a national epidemic defense, infrastructure, including but not limited humane quarantine and isolation facilities, far, far better capacity to monitor and restrict potentially infectious travelers, including returnees, and so on. We need much more attention to all of the potential, invasive pathogens. Recall the problem when a ship dumbs bilge in a new harbor, discharging invasive species? The entire biosphere is much more rapidly being mixed than ever before. Aboriginal peoples lost 85% of their populations when the germ-bearing Europeans arrived. Given today’s stirred and re-stirred population, everyone is potentially an aboriginal target for new pathogens.
I am not being alarmist here. So far, these are just teaching moments. But think how close we are to a worst case scenario: A fully nuclear armed Jihadist state, inevitably with lead to an arms race. Even a “small” regional nuclear exchange could trigger the loss of crops around the world for a year, causing the starvation of hundreds of millions. If history is any guide (and it is) that scenario will lead to war. And war will lead to pestilence.
And we are not prepared.
The Roman Empire fell from stage of history, having missed all of its potential teaching moments. Postmodern Western civilization seems bent on ignoring its teaching moments.
I assert that the next three years will be later identified by historians as the critical turning point when modern civilization began its collapse …or averted it. Why worry about civilization, you ask? …Because a smart fish needs to worry about having water to live in.
It is not too late to learn from these teaching moments. Better quarantine protocols, detection and emergency transportation and treatment will require an infrastructure that we can still deploy. We will be thankful now and for the inevitable next time.
AT THE FRONT DOOR: SUICIDAL IDIOTS WITH ATOM BOMBS
With the use of sufficient, sustained force Iran can still be compelled to abandon its dangerous atomic-bomb ambitions. The feckless misuse of a meaningless “red line” warning by our president has essentially taken ordinary persuasion off the table. European style soft power did not work on Hitler. It will not work now.
The clock is running. There are a number of workable military scenarios, all unpleasant.
The following scenario is just for illustration. Shockingly brutal as it might seem to the “soft power” crowd, it is actually sufficient to the cause. It very likely will work. I leave it to the experts whether something less would also be sufficient.
The locations of Iran’s enrichment plants are now known. …As are the locations of most of Iran’s missiles. Using heavy conventional weapons, these targets are repeatedly hit for thirty days. After a pause, a blue line is announced: Cooperate in full measure with a permanent shutdown and cleanup of Iran’s atomic weapons program, starting with open inspections in 7 days, or Phase Two begins. A blue line in this case is one that cannot be avoided by silence or mere words. Phase Two is the elimination of all of Iran’s oil refineries, its remaining air force and navy. In Phase Three, if necessary, we get serious.
If we take strong and sufficient action to avert an Islamist nuclear power, we will be criticized, but the world will be a better place.
Iran is a beautiful country with an intelligent, beautiful population. So was Japan in the 1940’s. No Eastern power came to Japan’s aid. No Middle East power will intervene on Iran’s behalf.
The cost in military resources and casualties will be far less if the US takes strong and sufficient action within the next few months, than if we attempt to do “whatever it takes” after Iran has squirrelled away 20 kg of weapons grade uranium and / or plutonium.
Doing nothing effective at this critical juncture is tantamount to ignoring a burning fuse leading to an explosive chain reaction that can take down civilization itself.
Rome was a decadent bureaucratic state in which the capacity for creative, adaptive responses to serious challenges never took hold. You might think that we in the USA – blessed as we are with an envied standard of living and a reputation for civil liberties, can weather any storm by hiding in Fortress America. Clinging to isolationism in the modern world is suicide, whether the threat is a rampant murderous ideology or a rampant deadly plague.
Sadly, it may well be us to us. Just us. Ideally, the USA should not have to act alone. But if we fail to effectively address such grave threats, no one else can pull it off in time. And it will be all over but the weeping.
Frankly, I would much rather cheer.
Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill
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Jay B Gaskill
 http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/RobockToonSciAmJan2010.pdf “New analyses reveal that a conflict between India and Pakistan, for example, in which 100 nuclear bombs were dropped on cities and industrial areas—only 0.4 percent of the world’s more than 25,000 warheads—would produce enough smoke to cripple global agriculture.”
 I noted this recent New York Post article < http://nypost.com/2014/10/29/cdc-admits-droplets-from-a-sneeze-could-spread-ebola/ > CDC admits droplets from a sneeze could spread Ebola …Ebola is a lot easier to catch than health officials have admitted — and can be contracted by contact with a doorknob contaminated by a sneeze from an infected person an hour or more before, experts told The Post Tuesday.“If you are sniffling and sneezing, you produce microorganisms that can get on stuff in a room. If people touch them, they could be” infected, said Dr. Meryl Nass, of the Institute for Public Accuracy in Washington, DC.Nass pointed to a poster the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released on its Web site saying the deadly virus can be spread through “droplets.”