In 1958, the Soviet Union proposed a global effort to eradicate smallpox, a disease that kills roughly a third of those it infects, including 300 million in the 20th century alone. On Dec. 9, 1979, it was completely eradicated. This public health triumph – perhaps the greatest in the history of mankind – would not have been possible without the efforts of the U.N.’s World Health Organization, which coordinated the immunization campaign. The magnitude of this achievement – removing a microbe from existence – cannot be overstated. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
Of all the major geopolitical players on the planet, Mother Nature may be the toughest adversary. Nature has neither imperatives nor constraints to guide its behavior. Rather, it operates off general patterns that occur under various conditions. While the patterns provide broad strokes of expected behavior, it strikes mostly randomly. Even predictable phenomena, such as the Atlantic hurricane season, tell us nothing about the magnitude and target of, or potential for, economic damage. A catastrophic Category 5 hurricane that misses major population centers is quickly forgotten; a milder Category 3 hurricane that decimates New Orleans has long-lasting consequences. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
When a patient dies in a hospital, it’s not uncommon for doctors to convene what is known as a morbidity and mortality conference, the goal of which is to determine what went wrong and why. In the months and years following a national crisis, we engage in a somewhat similar process. Over time, official investigations are carried out, and political leaders, the media and the public initiate ad hoc debates meant to arrive at a general understanding of the primary cause of the crisis and what steps need to be taken to prevent something like it from ever happening again. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
When the coronavirus pandemic slows and allows us to catch a breath — both literally and figuratively — there will be an international reckoning that likely will end with China bearing the brunt of the blame. In order to force China to implement adequate safety standards, we should stop importing essential items, especially food, medicine and medical equipment, until the country proves that it can be a responsible member of the global community. Read the rest at USA Today.
All human institutions are political. This follows naturally from Aristotle’s observation that “man is by nature a political animal.” If one wishes to rise to the very top of one’s field, it is not sufficient to be competent. Instead, one must also be diplomatic, savvy and – when the time calls for it – brutal. Even the Pope had to step on a few miters on his way to the Vatican. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, democratic governments across the world have implemented unprecedented peacetime lockdowns. One California city is even using night vision equipped drones — made in China, ironically — to enforce it. A city in Washington encourages citizens to snitch on those who violate the “stay home” order.
Let’s pause a moment to consider the serious ramifications of what we are doing. Read the rest at USA Today.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. But such measures can’t last forever, which is why mitigation is the only option. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
Every once in a while, it is worth pausing to ponder carefully on current affairs and our place in history. I’ve come to the unsettling conclusion that, despite the towering cranes and shiny new buildings, there are some deep pathologies running in our city’s veins. Seattle is in crisis. Read the rest at Puget Sound Business Journal.
An attempt to reopen the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada, where it was built to store nuclear waste, was recently shot down in Congress. The state’s refusal to become the nation’s central repository for nuclear waste means that we are forced to store it at 80 sites across 35 states — an impractical, expensive and less safe solution. It’s time to tempt Nevadans with an outside-the-box approach: Let’s pay them. Read the rest at USA Today.
During the final days of the last legislative session, lawmakers in Olympia — seemingly without much thoughtful consideration — decided to overhaul education in Washington state by giving in to various demands from the teachers’ union. In a flurry of activity, lawmakers reversed a ban on affirmative action, essentially eliminated a basic competency test for prospective K-12 teachers and cut funding to charter schools. What effects will these policies have? Read the rest at Puget Sound Business Journal.