The Challenges Before Us
October 12, 2014 8:45 AM
by Dan Nestlerode
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This country is facing at least two major challenges that will test the competence and abilities of our government, our political leaders and the leaders in the private sector.

They not only must get it right, but they'll have to push through until we have decisive victories.

The two challenges are: how to neutralize the vicious militant group ISIS, and how to stop contagious and lethal epidemics.

As I mentioned back in March of this year, The Clouds of War were gathering. Now war is upon us yet again, drawing us into action which we would rather have avoided. ISIS (or ISIL) has declared war upon the United States, and aside from airstrikes, we have not fully engaged with this terrorist organization.

We tell them what we will not do as they behead journalists and aid workers. Such violence is not a misunderstanding or a response to our bad behavior in the past. These terrorists are people who want to kill not only our soldiers, but also our men, women and children. They do not want to negotiate or compromise or reach an agreement of any kind.

Negotiations for them are just another weapon to promote their victory over secular western interests. They are against our way of life and all who do not subscribe to their brand of radical Islam. We must first recognize that we are indeed at war and that this will likely be a long, drawn out engagement.

Perhaps we are stumbling on our naïve longing to be done keeping the peace in the Middle East. We pulled out of Iraq without a status of forces agreement and now we are back in the thick of it with a more radical and deadly opponent. Will we allow our military elite to execute a decisive war with a victory and a long term occupation or will we dance around what is needed with political correctness and face-saving?

War is not something that should be run by politicians or the media. It should be run by the generals who can and should deliver a decisive victory to our citizens and those who engage directly in this effort.

Our second major issue is the spread of infectious diseases: one from overseas carried to the heart of the United States and the other rapidly spreading among our school children. It is a two front issue, as we must combat both Ebola and the Enterovirus D68. The US has the world's premier medical research, testing and delivery system.

To date, we have not fully addressed diseases that ravage other countries because they haven't directly threatened our shores. With our relatively porous borders these medical issues are now real threats. World travel is now available to many because it can be affordable and manageable by almost any passport holder.

Our "borders" should now be considered to extend past those held with Mexico and Canada to wherever anyone can disembark from a plane or a ship and land on American soil. In effect, any town with an international airport could be considered a "border" to be protected.

We have the Centers for Disease Control (CD) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in this country and thousands of medical researchers at universities and private companies who can be mobilized to combat the spread of human afflictions worldwide. It is time for our country to mobilize our resources to deal with worldwide diseases more effectively through a partnership of governmental, public and private organizations to make the planet infectious disease free.

The Gates Foundation and others are working on parts of this problem. We need a comprehensive proactive approach (as opposed to the reactive approach of government) as this issue is larger than any one government. The benefits are obvious, of course. We can make the world a better place for everyone to live and we should.

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. We have two pressing matters that will only get worse until we declare ourselves committed to absolute victory.

The time to start is today. We have the resources and the proactive organizations to be leaders in these matters. All that seems to be missing is the leadership and organizational commitment to implement a coordinated solution.

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