This past spring witnessed the emergence of H1N1, or Swine Flu, as it cut a swath through Mexico, into the United States, and quickly around the world. While it seemed to drop off the public's radar rather quickly (easy to do in this age of short news cycles and even shorter attention spans), Swine Flu is still lurking out there, and health officials expect it to return this fall, perhaps in a more virulent form. Are we ready for such an outbreak?
Dr. Steven J. Phillips from the National Library of Medicine and retired Rear Admiral George Worthington don't think so. They point out that most U.S. hospitals are ill-prepared for a mass-casualty event, whether it be a pandemic or a conventional attack on our soil. Fortunately, they do propose a solution, one modeled after the Bethesda Hospital Emergency Partnership Plan of 2004.
Cybersecurity has also come to the forefront in the last year, especially in light of the July attacks on South Korean and U.S. government Web sites, and is one of the six mission objectives of the recently released National Intelligence Strategy. Retired Army Colonel Steve Bucci believes cyber attack is the most likely homeland security threat America will face and outlines some chilling possibilities.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (left) recently sat for an interview with us to discuss these and other topics. We also brought up her rocky start in the Obama administration after her department's release of a report indicating that returning combat veterans were ripe targets for right-wing extremists looking to recruit potential domestic terrorists. The report caused a furor among veterans' groups at the time, but Secretary Napolitano acknowledges that "it was certainly not intended to insult veterans," and "it was a poorly crafted product." Her aim now, she told us, is "to move forward very proactively and positively with veterans and veterans' groups."
This year's coverage shows that while there is still much to worry about, we can also be reassured that a lot of very smart people are thinking about these threats and how to counter them to ensure we don't see another day like 9/11.
The first day of September marked another anniversary—70 years since the start of World War II. The end of that bloody conflict six years later has been the source of heated debate for decades. Critics have questioned whether it was necessary for the United States to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki when it appeared the Japanese were decisively beaten and ready to surrender. Many readers no doubt recall the controversy over the Smithsonian's proposed Enola Gay exhibit in the 1990s.
Military historian D. M. Giangreco attempts to put this argument to rest once and for all in his new book out this month from the Naval Institute Press, Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947 . We offer you a sneak peak on page 64 (sadly, we had to excise his endnotes here for space reasons—they alone are worth the price of the book). He shows that the Japanese still had the capability and will to resist the expected U.S. invasion of the Home Islands. Giangreco spent more than a decade researching and writing on this topic, patiently examining countless boxes of both Japanese and American operational and tactical planning documents. In this age of bloggers and instant analysis, his work will make historians everywhere proud.
Bravo Zulu, Mr. Giangreco!