Part of our core mission?

Exposing the Left's blatant hypocrisy. Help us continue the fight and support the 2020 Year-End Campaign now.

Thinking the Unthinkable — and Responding Wisely

In 1994, I was in my first year as director of research for the U.S. Army's Strategic Studies Institute. Part of our mission was to consider how the Army might respond to various strategic threats.

By Dr. Earl H. Tilford

In 1994, I was in my first year as director of research for the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. Part of our mission was to consider how the Army might respond to various strategic threats. Fifteen very bright people, to include serving officers and civilians, most with doctorates in history, political science, and various technical fields, were encouraged to pose — and then address — difficult questions at the strategic level. I also traveled a lot. At the Atlanta Airport I purchased a copy of Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone. Within a week we were working with Georgia Tech’s Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy on a conference titled, “Strategic Impact of Global Microbial Threats.” This was of acute interest because Atlanta was preparing to host the 1996 Summer Olympics near the Georgia Tech campus.

The central questions revolved around what kind of threats might arise and how would the United States respond. There were a lot of scenarios raised.

One involved Iraq unleashing a non-lethal biological attack on the U.S. fleet operating in the Persian Gulf and on American units stationed throughout the region. The virus or bacteria involved caused extreme gastro-intestinal disfunction. With military personnel so incapacitated, Iraqi military forces would retake Kuwait to present the United States and regional allies with a “fait accompli.” Or, alternatively, what if a foreign power unleashed a biological agent that destroyed wheats and other grains with cascading effects that included losing livestock and inducing starvation? What would an American “strategic response” entail? To be sure, there were many tools with which to respond, and not all included military force.

In our “worst case” scenario, a pandemic very similar to the current Covid-19 event spread rapidly across the United States. First responders were soon incapacitated, and hospitals overwhelmed with patients. At the height of the pandemic, a hostile power undertook a cyber offensive aimed at shutting down vast portions of the power grid to include all the major metropolitan areas. Fuel pumps quit working. Food could not reach markets. The checkout counters at supermarkets no longer worked, meaning electronic currency transfers stopped. The move from “cash only” to barter and then to looting moved rapidly. Police, unable to receive calls for help, also ran out of the fuel needed to respond.

Such dire scenarios have been around for a long time. The earliest ones are found in the book of Exodus when pandemic after pandemic hit Egypt to include a form of genocide focused on gender and age. The 1957 Nevil Shute novel, On the Beach, addressed a post-apocalyptic world where the last vestiges of civilization in Australia awaited death after the proverbial nuke-fest among major powers. In Stephen King’s 1978 novel, The Stand, the human race faces near extinction after a manufactured virus is inadvertently released.

We humans have been thinking the unthinkable since the time of Moses. Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel, Jaws, almost wrecked the beach-going industry in the summer of 1975. Knee-deep wading was all the rage that year. Ironically, a make-believe super shark kept millions out of the water while very real microbial viruses failed to stop many party-bent collegiate spring breakers during the coronavirus outbreak.

What we need to think about right now is: what comes next? Absent a highly unlikely, but not entirely impossible, miraculous cure, the best way to approach this is exactly what we are doing: address the things we can as best we can.

Alabama football Coach Nick Saban calls this “The Process.” At its heart is stoicism. The Apostle Paul was steeped in it. Leaders from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius to Prussia’s Frederick the Great and President George Washington practiced forms of stoicism. It is a process that emphasizes preparation for things you can affect to achieve — effects needed in the immediate future rather than long-range outcomes. Basically, in Nick Saban’s world of collegiate football, if 11 players do their individual jobs for the five to seven seconds each football play lasts, they determine the shape and form of the next play. If we break down the tasks we have to do for success in the immediate future without worrying too much about the final outcome, success builds on success. The comparison to stoic philosophy is most effectively done in Ryan Holiday’s book, The Obstacle is the Way. Basically, this is growing by overcoming immediate challenges.

“Could haves, would haves, and should haves” are not going to matter much if we fail to do what is necessary this week to survive to address next week’s challenges. Doing the little things right is essential to achieving a better outcome. Keep faith and prayer, especially if, as James 2: 14-26 instructs, faith is coupled to working for the best.

Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with the Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College. He currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2020 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.