Thursday, January 20, 2005


Anne Applebaum On A Biowarfare Wargame.

In Wednesday's WaPo ("free" registration required; scuzzbuckets), Anne Applebaum writes about a recent wargame called Atlantic Storm, which considered the implications of a smallpox attack in multiple European locations.

Hey, I would've written about the editorial earlier today if I could have. But if you didn't catch it this morning, it's a heartwarming piece involving mass death and destruction.

Applebaum regrettably doesn't specify who ran the wargame (Brookings? RAND? Chipotle?), but she states that, among the high-profile attendees, Madeline Albright played the President, and Doctors Without Borders co-founder Bernard Kouchner played the French President.

It's my personal opinion that the prospect of President Albright frightens me more than a smallpox terrorist attack. Especially when you read about "cute" moments like this:
Pretending to be the American president, Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, could not resist mocking her "predecessor," at one point donning an Air Force flight jacket, despite the fact that she had not fought in Vietnam either.
Har, har, har. Our midget Maddie is a LAUGH. RIOT. I can imagine the smile on her beaten little face as she made her all-too-obvious joke. I suspect it looked like this.

As for the wargame itself, it's good to know everyone played according to type:
In the first hour and a half, for example, the "heads of state" wasted time going around the table making little speeches. Later on, despite anti-Muslim riots in Rotterdam and mass panic at international border crossings, they argued bitterly about which multilateral institutions should do what. "Just like real life," whispered a European diplomat sitting next to me.
Yeah, just like real life.

The wargame sounds like a real shoddy piece of work. What did we learn? That Clintonians can't make a decision to save their lives-- literally? That Europeans are clueless in the face of terror? Shit, get me a book deal. . . the whole world needs to know about this!

All sarcasm aside, Applebaum's editorial *is* sobering. The threat is real, even if the games are not. The advice to purchase more vaccines and increase international cooperation in this area is good advice.

If I could humbly add my two cents, the best thing the international community could do is to establish-- and practice-- a "Biological Crisis Action Plan," complete with seperate and distinct responsibilities assigned to each participant of the plan. Something along the lines of the FEMA disaster response model for local authorities, a big rule book that everyone agrees to in advance.

This way, when the Really Bad Day hits, everybody knows what they're supposed to do-- and, more importantly what they should NOT do. Because, nine times out of ten, the biggest impediment to effective crisis management is ego-- parties spend more time fighting over who is in charge of what instead of working to address the problem.

I have a pretty simple plan for a biological weapon attack.

1. Grab essentials, jump in car, drive to hardcore survivalist uncle's farm in the hills and swear everlasting fealty to his militia.
2. Shoot anyone who approaches farm.
3. When crisis is over, tell everyone I am going to pick up a pizza/magnesium trip-flares, go home and avoid the phone for a few weeks.
It just warms the cockles of my heart to know that there are so many pictures of Madge Albright and Kim Jong-Il floating around. You have an automatic rebuttal to anything she could possibly say. Examples:

"Hey, you just cut me off!"
"Didn't I see you drinking champagne with Kim Jong-Il while millions of his countrymen were starving to death?"

"The Bush administration has failed in Iraq."
"You know, I think that's that lady who was in all the pictures with Kim Jong-Il."

"Please stop stepping on my throat!"
"Sorry, I mistook you for Kim Jong-Il. Silly me. But no, I'm not about to take my foot off your throat."
There's a much better picture of Madeline "not at" Albright here:
Sobek, that's just about enough about your cockles.
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