There is an opportunity here for greatness…
Pandemic Hardening Can Make America Great
We need fewer dense cities and more factories.
After September 11, we began the long process of trying to build a society that would be hardened against massive terror attacks. Airports became grueling fortresses in which shoes, bottled water, and personal dignity had no place. A vast intelligence infrastructure was built to violate privacy. But the big decisions were never made. Instead, America became more vulnerable than ever to Islamic terrorism.
That’s why President Trump ran on, among other things, a travel ban from terrorist nations.
As the nation undergoes another shock, we are going to have to think about how to rebuild our society so that it will be hardened against another pandemic. That is going to require hard choices beyond throwing more money at the same alphabet soup government agencies that failed to protect us.
There are three key areas to think about: biological security, urban living, and domestic manufacturing.
The coronavirus, like September 11, was primarily a national security failure. The massive alphabet soup of government agencies, from the CDC to the FDA to the State Department to the CIA failed to correctly assess the problem, take action, coordinate, and keep the nation safe from an external threat.
The nature of the threat on September 11 flew under the radar because it was too big for security agencies and too small for the military, it didn’t fit the shape of what the FBI or Joint Chiefs did. And so we began the task of transforming both the military and security agencies into fitting that shape.
The Department of Homeland Security, in theory the sort of entity that might tackle multifaceted threats, which would include a pandemic, has failed to live up to expectations of basic competence.