Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 2, 2015

Which is harder to defeat – Ebola or ISIS?

Filed under: Biosecurity,International HLS,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Arnold Bogis on February 2, 2015

That is the question that Graham Allison, Director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, tackled in a short opinion piece for Time magazine. It was originally published last December when attention on Ebola was high due to the presence of a few cases cases inside the U.S. (in contrast to the thousands in West Africa), but Phil’s post this past Thursday on “Epidemiology of Violence” reminded me of Allison’s take on the same general concept.

His conclusion:

About Ebola, the world knows a lot and is doing relatively little. About ISIS, we know relatively little but are doing a lot.

But that doesn’t answer which is the harder to defeat.  His analysis:

Finally, we should acknowledge the fact that for the foreseeable future, there may be no permanent cure for Islamic extremism. Against Ebola, researchers are racing toward a vaccine that could decisively prevent future epidemics. But the past decade has taught us that despite our best efforts, if and when the ISIS outbreak is controlled, another strain of the virus is likely to emerge. In this sense, violent Islamic extremism may be more like the flu than Ebola: a virus for which we have no cure, but for which we can develop a coherent management strategy to minimize the number of annual infections and deaths.

Not to give too much more away from the article, but it is interesting that a political scientist looks at ISIS through the lens of public health:

Over recent centuries, medicine has made more progress than statecraft. It can be useful therefore to examine ISIS through a public-health lens. When confronting a disease, modern medicine begins by asking: What is the pathogen? How does it spread? Who is at risk? And, informed by this understanding, how can it be treated and possibly prevented?

About Ebola, we know the answers to each. But what about ISIS?

I haven’t given away all the good stuff here, so if you’re interested you can read the entire article at: http://time.com/3618049/viral-threats/

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Comment by William R. Cumming

February 2, 2015 @ 7:25 am

Does anyone but me find it of interest that we don’t have any idea what a single candidate of either or any political parties take on OUBLIC HEALTH and/or FOREIGN AFFAIRS IS yet one will be elected and become PRESIDENT in January 2017?

What we do know is that between the Koch Brothers and other large donors and WALL STREET they will all be honest politicians under that 19th Century aphorism they will be bought and stay bought.

So being in favor of simplicity maybe even KISS [keep it simple stupid] here is my formula[s}!

The DEFENSE budget in every fiscal year from now on [specifically the 050 account]shall be used to define the civil agencies budget. For example, the State Department budget will always be an automatic 10% of the 050 account. The PUBLIC HEALTH BEDGET WILL ALWAUS BE 25% OF THE 050 account. And the State and their local governments federal support [the 045 account] will always be 20% of the 050 account. BTW the entirety of the 045 account should be reviewed for its impact on FEDERALISM!

I will now rank the factors in how the States and their 90,000 units of local government control the GEFERAL GOVERNMENT!

First! States and their local government control of election to federal office.


Third! The pretense that all disasters are local.

Fourth! By having Governors as the principal source of Presidential candidates and pretending all Governors have equal political power.

Fifth! The Electoral College system.

Sixth! Control over what entities get corporate charters but never revealing the REAL PARTY IN INTEREST!

Seven! Gerrymandering!

Eight! Pretending that the States provide much except jobs to governance in the USA!

Nine! Controlling the definition of “property” or “interests in property”! N.B. THERE IS NO DEFINITION OF THESE TERMS IN THE UNITED STATES CODE. Federal judges look to state law to define these terms.

Ten! Almost total ignorance of tackling the taxation of interstate entities including NGO’s.

As always counter arguments are welcome.

Comment by Donald Quixote

February 2, 2015 @ 10:28 am

Great point. The question for both is what shall they shift, drift or mutate into next? The pathogenic and extremist threats may be just as diverse and novel to our current defenses – endemic, epidemic or pandemic.

Comment by Mr. Wheat

February 2, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

Hmm.. Just find a way to give Ebola to ISIS members. Then we can just focus on the Ebola problem and the question of priorities becomes moot.

Comment by Tom Russo

February 3, 2015 @ 5:29 pm

The Ebola virus is being managed and therefore has not gone viral. In contrast, ISIS is not being managed and has gone viral!

Comment by Donald Quixote

February 17, 2015 @ 11:52 am

Statement by the President on the Departure of Ron Klain


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