What’s that got to do with anything today? Everything!
As we go through life remembering parts of the past, we should always ask ourselves if we are remembering the right things! Ideally, the past informs the future, and looking backward helps us look forward wisely.
We’ve remembered Pearl Harbor for 79 years now, using it and intervening incidents to build a defense industry that Ike warned us about 59 years ago, now costing over $600 billion a year.
Meanwhile, even while we prepared for a modern Pearl Harbor, we ignored and even shut down research that was SCREAMING at us to worry about pandemics. The “Crimson Contagion” planning exercise in 2019 underscored how ill-prepared the nation was for a pandemic in broad terms; in January, intelligence and health agencies warned President Trump that the nation was gravely ill-prepared for THIS pandemic.
Even those out of government might have come across John M. Barry’s “The Great Influenza” – which spent a year on the NY Times bestseller list — and “The End of Epidemics” by John Quick.
A measly $1 billion properly spent when those books were published quite likely would have averted a great deal of today’s anguish.
But we are a country of dopes (myself included), now led by the King of Dopes, and nobody took advantage of easily available and comprehensive knowledge of how to minimize exactly what is happening today – and, incredibly, claiming it was unknowable.
Aphorisms like ‘Remember Pearl Harbor’ have some utility. But they also have a limited life span of relevance. WWI brought the Spanish flu across the world in 1918 in amazingly similar ways to today. Commerce accomplished the same this year.
In an ever-changing world, we should always make sure we’re still asking the right questions.
Clearly that did not happen at all. And, here we are now.