The best way to curtail future epidemics (and pandemics) is to augment the endogenous capacity of health-care infrastructure and to improve the basal health of populations, particularly throughout the developing countries. Such investments are logical because the fundamental conditions for disease emergence are accelerating as a result of the processes of globalization (increased population density, ecological degradation, rapid transportation technologies, and mass migration), yet in many developing areas disease surveillance and containment capacity is low or nonexistent.
Given that global public health can be understood as a public good, the costs of providing such goods (epidemiological surveillance and containment) should be borne by the international community, although continued diplomatic leadership by a hegemonic coalition of states will doubtless remain central. Further, developed countries should possess (or develop) a level of "surge capacity" to deal with epidemic events that generate mass morbidity and mortality, such as a new lethal pandemic influenza. At present there is little surge capacity within the United States as a result of its uniquely market-driven health-care system. Indeed, there are not enough beds, respirators, and nurses in the United States to effectively deal with a flu pandemic on the level of 1918. The presence of weak and often dysfunctional international institutions that are chronically lacking in funding (the WHO), and which occasionally suffer from politicized and/or weak leadership, complicates proactive responses. While the recently revised International Health Regulations should assist in increasing global response capacity to pathogenic threats,15 the regime continues to lack any substantive capacity to enforce compliance by its member states. Thus, it is incumbent upon states to lead the way in assembling regional coalitions to deal with emergent health threats.
What further measures should be taken to bring the concept of "health security" into the mainstream of security studies?
Reduce Ethnocentrism Orthodox security analysts remain wedded to the concept that the developing countries are essentially non-strategic, unless petroleum reserves (or terrorists) exist in that region. The prevailing security literature must change to integrate the concerns of developing countries. Moreover, the literature is also guilty of exceptional anthropo-centrism, regarding threats to security as resulting exclusively from human agency. As Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, natural processes and events can also generate profound disruptions to the prosperity, coherence, effective governance, legitimacy, and security of sovereign states. The destruction visited on modern societies by the 1918 influenza pandemic and by the modern manifestation of HIV argues for increasingly ecocen-tric and non-ethnocentric perspectives within the security literature.
Encourage Scientific Literacy As Deudney argues, much of the current political science literature completely disregards those material-contextual factors that have influenced societies and states over millennia. In this era of faddish post-modernism, such filters of abstraction have grown so pronounced that some social scientists now question the empirical existence of pathogens. Simply put, many political scientists are uncomfortable in the realm of the hard sciences, and very few have any significant understanding of microbiology, epidemiology, or medicine. Thus, the education of social scientists in the core concepts of biology, ecology, and public health will provide for greater comprehension of the risks involved in pathogenic emergence and proliferation. Conversely, those in public health and medicine would do well to become conversant in the tenets of political science, so as to understand the vagaries of the political process.
Counter Threat Myopia The terrorist attacks of 2001, and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have deflected the security community's attention away from those infectious disease threats which had been on the radar at the United Nations Security Council in the spring of 2001. The prevailing obsession with anthropocentric threats (i.e., terrorism) leaves little cognitive space for scholars or policy makers to be concerned about subtle and attenuated threats, and makes it difficult to observe health and environmental challenges to security.
Increase Historical Literacy In recent years, the discipline of political science (particularly the American school) has bowed to the quantitative orthodoxy of econometrics, and to the dogma of parsimony and linearity. In complex and non-linear systems (such as the interactions between pathogens, economies, states, and societies), an exclusive focus on parsimonious empirical methods may be misleading.16 Many newly minted PhDs in political science may be able to run advanced multi-variate regressions but have never read the canon of republican political thought embodied in the work of Aristotle, Plato, Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Montesquieu and Rousseau. Beyond the historical community, academia is largely unaware of the historical relations between health, governance, and power. In order to acquire a more balanced perspective, political scientists might study more history and anthropology, and less econometrics.
Provision of Evidence As the frequency of catastrophic epidemics has declined, evidence of the malign effects of contagion on state cohesion, power, and security has been relegated to the past (as is true of pandemic influenza) or has been largely dismissed as a scourge of the developing countries. Thus, scholars must be vigilant both in their investigation of the relations between such variables and in their attempts to remind the current generation of our continuing vulnerability to emergent pathogens. As the epidemiologist Stephen Morse reminds us, there is always a novel pathogen in the pipeline of nature.17 To that end, a deeper and cross-national investigation into the effects of the pandemic influenza of 1918 on prosperity, governance, and security should be conducted posthaste. Further cross-national investigations into the effects of the current HIV/ AIDS pandemic on governance should also be undertaken.
Acknowledge Cognitive Limitations Humans have been programmed biologically to respond to imminent threats, such as a proximate predator. Therefore, they are far more likely to perceive temporally proximate "events" as related to significant threats, as opposed to attenuated and often difficult to observe "processes" such as ecological destruction and the gradual winnowing of a population by consecutive waves of contagion. The environment-and-security debate has been witness to similar issues of societal Attention Deficit Disorder, as few pay attention to the attenuated processes of ozone depletion (or global climate change) until the system reaches a critical threshold, whereupon the issue "suddenly" becomes a profound threat to the human species and to the security of sovereign states. Threats to global health often exhibit similar properties, particularly stealth pathogens such as HIV/AIDS.
While the human species has significantly reduced its vulnerability to contagion over the centuries, this reduction in vulnerability is primarily pathogen-specific. Certain microbial agents (such as pandemic influenza) still represent an enormous threat to the national security of all polities. Profound variance in the capacity of states and in the attributes of populations suggests that different countries will be vulnerable to different pathogens. Thus, one pathogen (e.g., HIV/AIDS) may combine with others to generate a profound burden of disease that threatens the prosperity, stability, and security of a certain country (e.g., Zimbabwe). The same pathogens may not threaten a developed country such as Canada, which instead proved quite vulnerable to the SARS coronavirus. Thus, pathogenic threats to security are highly contextual. Despite technological optimism and anthropocentrism, human societies remain firmly ensconced within the ecological constraints of the natural world, and will remain vulnerable to the continuing processes of pathogen emergence in the centuries to come. Therefore, it would be expedient to accelerate our efforts in improving global population health, and in developing a global infrastructure for the effective surveillance and containment of contagion.
On a positive note, the extreme destabilization witnessed during historical plagues and pestilences has diminished greatly over the centuries. Advances in technical ingenuity have resulted in the development of antimicrobial agents, and in improved nutrition for much of the world's population. Social ingenuity has also improved over the centuries as the architecture of global health governance has begun to improve, and as national governments now comprehend that excessively draconian (con-tagionist) policies can spawn and exacerbate existing conflicts between societal factions (or classes) and the state itself. Certain contagionist policies remain in place (such as the necessity for quarantine and social distancing). However, certain polities have become increasingly draconian in the face of contagion, notably China (SARS) and Zimbabwe (HIV).
On a cautionary note, despite humanity's recent advances in the domain of public health, there is reason to be concerned about the proliferation of resistant infections which diminish the efficacy of our existing anti-microbial armamentarium. Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies often eschew investments in new classes of anti-microbial prophylaxis, claiming that the returns on investment are insufficient. Thus, many of the diseases of the developing countries (e.g., malaria)
continue to proliferate because the people they affect are unable to pay exorbitant prices for new classes of medication. The scale and velocity of ecological degradation is troubling, in that disruptions to biological equilibria may generate new niches for pathogenic emergence or mutation. Global climate change is particularly troubling, as it will lead to the latitudinal and altitudinal expansion of vectors (e.g., mosquitoes), permitting the proliferation of various infective agents (e.g., malaria) in human populations that possess no genetic or acquired immunity to the pathogen. In the case of malaria, increasing temperatures will also increase the biting rate of the vectors, and even the incubation rate of the plasmodium itself, intensifying the burden of disease on affected populations. It is certainly reasonable to suspect that climate change may also result in the emergence of novel pathogenic agents that may thrive in warmer and wetter environments.
The centrality of physis to republican political thought facilitates the location of pathogenic threats to national security within the domain of the wider "environmental security" discourse. As human actions continue to generate significant disturbances within the ecosystems of the planet, such deviations facilitate the emergence of novel pathogens and the mutation of existing strains. The hubris of the human species, the ascendance of the ideational and the ignorance of the material, and the illusion that humanity has been liberated from the constraints of the natural world are problematic. The human species must recognize its place within the complex web of life, eschew anthropocentric orthodoxy in favor of ecocentric perspectives, and return a modicum of equilibrium to the biosphere. The development of ecological consciousness (and praxis) in societies and markets, will permit a return to greater biotic equilibrium, reducing the speed of pathogenic emergence and mutation. Through such tactics, humanity may diminish its vulnerability to contagion, and to the chaos it may generate.
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