The COVID-19 paradigm shift on war and weaponry
It's time to shift our thinking about an arms race coming in the form of a nuclear mushroom cloud and devote some serious thought to biological warfare.
Over the course of the last two months, we have witnessed how a virtually invisible yet highly insidious weapon like a virus strain can glom onto the human body and wreak worldwide havoc. We're witness to wholesale closure of countries, home restrictions, economic slowdown on some fronts with total destruction on others and long-term catastrophic effects on the rest, broken supply chains on a global scale, and a sense of uncertainty to paralyze anyone who has been paying attention.
We've all seen the black-and-white videos of nuclear tests, read about the nuclear build-up in Iran, discussions about which countries can be trusted to be in the global "nuclear club," and heard how rogue elements could detonate a low-yield dirty bomb from a small suitcase in downtown Manhattan. But the COVID-19 coronavirus strain is right out of a Hollywood movie that we've been watching for the last 50 years. I'm not so far out on the conspiracy theory limb to aver that this is what is happening, but it certainly provokes some thought.
Popular biologic warfare movies, from The Omega Man (1971) and The Andromeda Strain (1971) to newer, more potent thrillers like Outbreak (1995), Pandemic (2007), and Contagion (2011), provide the world with a fictional blueprint of how it's done.
The world has seen these movie plots played out to a lesser extent in real life before but with real life-and-death implications; SARS, Zika, MERS, Avian Flu, HIV-AIDS, H1N1, and Ebola. The best news is that the U.S. has the best collection of Infectious disease specialist minds in the world working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). If a solution to the current strain of coronavirus emerges, the odds are very good that the CDC and NIH will have their fingerprints all over it.
Let's go back to the 2016 election and recall the two front-page issues candidate Donald Trump was peddling: border security and bringing jobs back to America. What has become evident in our current plight is that both of these banner issues are now screaming their importance.
The EUobserver reported on March 16, 2020 that the borders of 26 countries have imposed full or partial border closures, while the U.S. has halted travel to all 26 plus Ireland and the U.K. A country's ability to control their own borders and set parameters for entry and exit is a major tool in terms of analyzing who comes and goes from one country to the next from many perspectives. Today that perspective focuses on sickness and health. Last week, Italy asked for medical assistance from its E.U. counterparts. They declined. So much for open borders and globalism.
The Washington Examiner published an article by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) wherein he chronicles the travails of border agents giving testimony before a congressional committee as they have become prey to typhus, tuberculosis, mumps, and Swine Flu. Borders serve for more than simply keeping bad people out of the country. They are a major asset in protecting citizens within a country from good people emigrating into that country who have previously contracted bad diseases.
Trump's second issue of importance dealt with bringing jobs back to America. Steel, auto manufacturing, textiles, and computer component production got the early headlines, but it's become clear that pharmaceuticals are now front and center. I was shocked to read senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations Yanzhong Huang's report:
Chinese pharmaceutical companies have supplied more than 90 percent of U.S. antibiotics, vitamin C, ibuprofen and hydrocortisone, as well as 70 percent of acetaminophen and 40 to 45 percent of heparin in recent years.
These are all drugs originally researched, developed, and tested in the U.S. How many Americans know that the essential drugs they consume to get well, remain healthy, and survive are controlled by China either in production or the supply chain, wherein China runs the show?
Back to the nuclear option fear. Chances are that in the new millennium, it seems unlikely it'll be a nuke that can be traced back to a specific country, a nefarious group of terrorists, or some lone wolf on a fanatical mission. There remain threats imposed via a massive cyber-attack, an assault on the "grid," or some form of artificial intelligence siege, but it's not a stretch based on current events that a door has been opened to an insidious enemy of microscopic size with an origin virtually impossible to trace that puts the world in a panic, shuts down economies, and brings civilization to a virtual halt while access to curative drugs is controlled by unfriendly sources. You can't make this stuff up. Oh, wait — Hollywood has been feeding it to us for years.
I seriously doubt that candidate Donald Trump had this in mind back in 2016, but it sure seems prescient in 2020.