Janus, Katrina and the Avian Flu
Water is still being pumped out of New Orleans, and the recovery plans are just now being laid out. But while much of our national attention is rightly focused there, new threats loom on the horizon. Today Hugh Hewitt made a fairly impassioned plea for people to pay attention to the threat of avian flu while there's still time to do something about it.
The similarities of this threat to Katrina are striking. Warnings are being given by experts of devastating consequences. Long studies have been issued showing worst case scenarios. And a near-fatalistic determination to ignore what could happen if the "big one" strikes seems to have infected (pardon the pun) both the general population as well as many of our leaders.
The Roman god of gates and doors, Janus, was pictured with two heads, facing in opposite directions. While we need to look back at the wide-spread destruction of Katrina and respond to it promptly (and fix the things that went wrong), we must also look forward to other threats coming down the road. It's not enough to merely have a plan--Ray "Buses" Nagin and Kathleen "Hamlet" Blanco prove that. The prerequisite of a successful plan is that it be prepared to be executed by cold-eyed, serious men and women who know what they are doing and have the experience and authority to carry it out.
In our history, America has rarely spent too much time looking forward and planning for the worst...it's just not part of our national character. But we need Janus to be more than just a mutual fund or a Roman god right now--we need to learn the lessons of Katrina to prepare for what almost certainly lies ahead.