Tag: strategic surprise

An Ebola Manifesto for the Military Profession

By Major Matt Cavanaugh

There are three conclusions for the military profession to be drawn from the present Ebola outbreak: the threat is enormous, but ultimately manageable; the desired ends are currently vastly under resourced; and the profession’s lack of intellectual focus on the outbreak may result in the nation bumbling towards unnecessary, potentially catastrophic, strategic shock. 


A selection, on the threat Ebola poses:

There is also a major qualitative factor that makes Ebola much more threatening than nearly any other contemporary threat.  ISIS may do some pretty horrible things on video, but ISIS can’t stop you from showing affection to other human beings.  It’s been remarked that Ebola’s “cultural casualty” has been human contact. One journalist posed the seemingly impossible, but very real scenario in West Africa: “imagine trying not to touch your 2-year-old daughter when she is feverish, vomiting blood and in pain.” We often curse terror groups that use children as human shields; Ebola similarly uses human decency against us by preying on our need for human contact and comfort. Consider that in Sierra Leone, people now tap their chests in place of a handshake.  This is part of the government’s “A-B-C” public health campaign there – “Avoid Bodily Contact.”  Ebola poisons relationships just as much as it does bodies; we might come to a point where “STD” means Socially Transmitted Disease. 

ISIS may strike but does not have the ability to impact our way of life like Ebola.

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Not By Force Alone: Russian Strategic Surprise in Ukraine

By Christopher Davis

As of May 1st, it appears that the position of the relatively new government in Kiev has become increasingly untenable. Armed gunmen have seized government buildings in three of Ukraine’s eastern provinces after the failure of the military (first the regular army, and second the newly created national guard) to restore order. In response, the Ukrainian president order the restoration of conscription. Meanwhile, the administration continues its planned economic policy of austerity, with its known economic shocks, despite the political instability of the country. Through a combination of threats and direct action, Moscow through all of this has been able to maintain significant pressure on Kiev, obstructing if not outright preventing Kiev’s ability to build legitimacy and establish order. Washington’s and Europe’s timid response in the form of targeted sanctions does not appear to be sufficient to compel Moscow to reverse course. Thus, by the nature of force, Moscow seems to have secured a very strong political position to control the outcomes in Ukraine’s turmoil.

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