How the COVID-19 Pandemic Exposes America’s Need for Resilient Critical Infrastructure

American society’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic exposes a number of stark realities ranging from our nation’s unpreparedness for a pandemic to the general lack of resilience of our citizens.  It has also exposed the costs associated with “shutting down” economies, even at a time when all of our critical infrastructures are still functioning properly.

During this webinar, the Center’s Director of Infrastructure – Tommy Waller – interviewed Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, a renowned national security expert and military historian, to gain his insights on these issues and to discuss the main points behind his excellent Washington Times article originally titled “Coronavirus: Our Plague of Justinian?”

Dr. Pry provided a succinct summary of the great plagues that have changed the course of history, ranging from the Black Death (1347-51 A.D.), the Antonine Plague (165-180 A.D.), the Plague of Justinian (541-542 A.D.), and the un-named plague associated with the spread of smallpox and measles which came with European settlers in north and south America from roughly 1500 to 1800.  His comparison of these plagues to the current COVID-19 Pandemic makes clear that our current pestilence is nowhere near as deadly, and yet its effects have weakened the US at an especially important time in history.

Dr. Pry reminded the audience that, after WWII, the United States produced half the world’s gross domestic product and had such a lead in technological and economic power that it was able to sustain a global order which has greatly benefited humanity.  He explained that this power has declined rapidly in recent decades as our adversaries, particularly Communist China, have risen to challenge the United States.  Just as President Trump was in the process of accomplishing the immense feat of reversing the nation’s decline, we were hit with a virus we should have been prepared for.

Why should we have been prepared?  Dr. Pry explained his personal insight into an important biological warfare wargaming scenario in held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies in 2001 and the resulting “Dark Winter” documentary it produced.  He explained that these efforts galvanized Congress to act and to spend billions of dollars on biological defense – money obviously misallocated.  Drawing upon an excellent Newsmax article he published in March of this year, this failure of government to take action on real threats perpetuates to this day in our lack of preparedness for attacks on our critical infrastructure, namely the US electric grid, and especially in relation to the threat from electromagnetic pulse (EMP)

Tommy Waller shared with the audience the brief history of our nation’s growing realization that the electric grid is what undergirds modern health and the survival of our electronic civilization.  Tommy pointed to a recent article he wrote in Epoch Times that quoted a leading epidemiologist, Dr. Michael Osterholm, who wrote that he believes that the father of modern public health is Nikola Tesla, the inventor of the alternating-current induction motor that enabled the widespread use of electricity.

Dr. Pry and Tommy then described the importance of protecting our nation’s electric grid, the many challenges associated with this effort, and the great strides made by the Trump administration in doing so.  The pair also answered a series of audience questions and pointed to helpful resources, such as:

Finally, viewers were encouraged to make themselves more resilient and prepared for power outages, but most of all to “fight the tyranny of inaction” by getting involved in the Secure the Grid Coalition’s efforts to advocate for the protection of this most-critical infrastructure.