Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Newest Commission on Global Health and national security

Regarding the Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future final report issued on Jan. 13, 2016?  I offer 4 

1.      This is only the latest such national security warning regarding the serious and growing threat of infectious diseases.  There have been at least six others over the last two decades, a few of which were authored by US defense and intelligence agencies and national security experts.  As this latest report emphasizes again, ignoring these warnings is as great, growing and inevitable risk to American lives, freedoms and prosperity.  Equally as great a threat as war or terrorism.

2.      Man-made bio security threats are also an increasing risk given the exponential advancements in biotechnology, its increasing ease of use, affordability and global availability to virtually any buyer.  The benefits of such technology in the hands of scientists committed to combating a wide range of illnesses including those in this newest report cannot be overestimated.  But, given the dual use nature of this technology the capacity for intentional abuse and the creation of unprecedented bio weaponry can also not be overstated.  And, there is always the risk of accidents and unintentional releases of both natural and designer pathogens.

3.      Another recent report closely connected to this bio threat and also worthy of urgent public and policy maker’s attention is from the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance. Its 85 recommendations focus on the need for global justice which if implemented would directly and significantly reduce both the natural and designer threats of infectious agents.  This dual increase in security would be achieved by effectively addressing the global economic inequality, unmet human needs, and human rights violations that are at the root of nearly all individual, national and global security threats. A focus on improving on old global institutions (and building new ones when needed) that can effectively provide early detection, rapid response and most importantly preventive measures given the economic and human costs of relying on existing capacity.

4.      Thirty-six years ago a bipartisan Presidential Commission on World Hunger offered stern warnings regarding the infectious diseases, terrorism, war and environmental damage we could expect if we didn’t adequately address the global crisis of widespread hunger, starvation and malnutrition.  Given the inevitable links between the human insecurities of their report those commissioners unanimously suggested we raise ending hunger as a foreign policy priority within the context of US National security interests.  Looking at today’s headlines they appear genius.  The failure of both the Syrian leader and the existing UN international system to address the unmet human needs of Syrian farmers driven off their parched lands by a three year drought eventually sparked the Syrian civil war which accelerated the rise of ISIS.  Perhaps it is time that both the American public and policy makers take commission reports and their recommendations seriously.   Problems and threats in the world appear to be growing while our existing global structures and systems remain impotent at preventing or addressing them.  Time and money is running out.  The wisdom of making solid global investments in new and improved global structures for early responses and adequate prevention of most human security threats should now be painfully obvious to all, if they are really serious about national security.   


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