Leadership With Heart
Similar to the Yom Kippur War when Israel found itself unprepared and under a surprise attack by the newly Soviet-armed Syrians and Egyptians, I am convinced that Western society is ill-prepared and open for a real shock by what awaits us from future major disasters—be it natural like a devastating earthquake or Tsunami or man-made like a nuclear weapon, bio attack, an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), or a devastating cyber-attack.
The Three-Year COVID Blunder
Of course, COVID-19 was a wake-up call to all when our medical pundits and government bungled the identification of what was happening and the response to it. From whether it was a biological mutation to a Chinese lab-made bioweapon, there was anything from genuine debate to intentional obfuscation so as not to get into World War III with China. In terms of putting on masks or taking them off, going out or sheltering in place for months or years at a time, and vax or not, the pundits and officials were all over the map, and it depended whether you caught them unawares on a hot mic or not.
Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Twice We’re The Fools
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and usurping 20% of the 2nd largest country in Europe, we were unprepared for their masked and tag-less armed invasion in 2014 and for the scope and intention behind their deceitful “training exercise” on the surrounding borders of Ukraine in February 2022. Once we realized what was happening, first we thought Kyiv would be overrun and Ukraine would fall in three days, then we became convinced that we could sanction Russian aggression into retreat, and finally, we foolishly believed that we could arm Ukraine into a Russian battlefield defeat. Now, a year and a half into a war that defies our ability to envision a peaceful and just conclusion, we are left pondering a Western defeat as our political willpower and open checkbooks wane.
Pearl Harbor and 9/11 Changed Us Forever, or Did They?
Was it any different on 9/11, when an attack on our financial and political capitals in the USA ended in the collapse of the twin World Trade Centers, smoke billowing from the collapsed walls of the Pentagon, and bedlam throughout our country? Following false claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, we spent trillions of dollars and thousands of soldiers’ lives chasing the “king of spades” and other playing card-portrayed “terrorists” into oblivion with no discernible improvement to our nation’s long-term safety or security. Similarly, with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 forcing our entry into World War 2, we are forever at the mercy of the next jack coming out of the box and left feigning surprise, and questioning belatedly, what do we do now?
Leadership and Policy Woes: From the Homeless to Hurricane Katrina
Incredibly, living around Washington, D.C., the capital of the free world, it is a wonder that our social policies and infrastructure are a disaster here. Whether it is homeless people camping in the streets, a poorly planned and crumbling single-lane in each direction metro system, or an electrical system that routinely goes out with a mere thunderstorm, it is a wonder that we are able to maintain power, let alone project it worldwide with any serious credibility. In fact, some rain on Friday night left over fifty thousand people in the area again without power: no air conditioning in the hottest July on record, food spoiling in the fridge, no lights, and barely any running water. Further, this was certainly not the Hurricane Katrina category 5 that hit New Orleans in 2005 and left tens of thousands hunkered down, helpless, and homeless in the Superdome. Is this the richest and strongest country in the world, or another third-world country draped in $30 trillion of national debt?
On a personal level, I kick myself for leaving my emergency Anker battery unplugged and groping in the dark to try to find one of the myriad flashlights that I know I strategically placed around the house.
The Test of Our Future
Whether it is our inability to imagine what can happen, our disbelief in it actually occurring, or our ineffectiveness or corruption to really prepare, we may be in serious peril from future threats that invariably await us. When that earthquake that we know is overdue hits the west coast hard, or a nuclear ICBM from North Korea or Iran hits somewhere in our mainland, or the next bio-weapon from China strikes our masses, or Russia cripples our satellites and Internet with one of their hidden Trojans or a zero-day cyber-attack, we can all shake our heads in utter disbelief again at how unprepared we are for the “next one.”
Certainly, no one is invulnerable to tragedy, no preparation will ever be perfect, and we can never get everything right in responding to and recovering when disaster strikes, but if we don’t stop the endless denial and infighting, allocate our limited resources with foresight and good cause, and make a determined and continued effort to get ready for what we know with virtual certainty looms large and threatens us, then we are unfortunately complicit in the tragic downfall that awaits.