At long last, a great power breaks the silence on zombie preparedness

Since May is Zombie Awareness Month, I thought I would be worth noting a factual statement in Theories of International Politics and Zombies that will have to be changed in the revived revised edition of the book.   

On pages 5-6 of the introduction, I wrote: 

The government of Haiti has laws on the books to prevent the zombification of individuals. No great power has done the same in public—but one can only speculate what these governments are doing in private. 

Well, not any more!!  Via Instapundit, I see that the Center for Disease Control has finally gone public on its Public Health Matters Blog.  Fox News' Joshua Rhett-Miller reports:

Are you prepared for the impending zombie invasion?


That's the question posed by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention in a Monday blog posting gruesomely titled, "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse." And while it's no joke, CDC officials say it's all about emergency preparation.


"There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for," the posting reads. "Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That's right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency."


The post, written by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan, instructs readers how to prepare for "flesh-eating zombies" much like how they appeared in Hollywood hits like "Night of the Living Dead" and video games like Resident Evil. Perhaps surprisingly, the same steps you'd take in preparation for an onslaught of ravenous monsters are similar to those suggested in advance of a hurricane or pandemic.


Actually, had he interviewed a zombie expert, [Cough, cough!!--ed.] I'm sure the Fox News reporter would have learned that this is not all that surprising.  Indeed, I found research on the political economy of disasters to be the most useful sources in researching Theories of International Politics and Zombies


As for the global implications, let's get to the salient part of Khan's blog post

Never Fear – CDC is Ready

If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work). (emphasis added)

One could argue that the offer of international technical assistance would be consistent with the liberal paradigm, in which a robust counterzombie regime was created.

The question is, would other countries welcome the assistance?  Would other countries suspect the CDC of being the very progenitor of the zombie pandemic?  Would Pakistan protest if Seal Team Six was dispatched to a Karachi suburb to put down an initial zombie outbreak?

These are Very Deep Questions, and I, for one, encourage further research in this area.  In the meantime, however, I would like to applaud the Assistant Surgeon General and the Center for Disease Control for joining the State of New York in thinking about the unthinkable. 

Indeed, I would encourage even more CDC transparency.  For example, the scenario that's sketched out that the final episode of the first season of The Walking Dead -- could that, um, you know, actually happen? 

Daniel W. Drezner

French public intellectuals pushed for Libya. Does that matter?

As the fallout from Dominique Strauss-Kahn and The Chambermaid's Tale continues, the guy from the Dos Equis commercials French public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy is taking quite a beating inside the United States.  Lévy -- or BHL for those in the know -- is a longtime friend of Strauss-Kahn -- or DSK for, well, you get the idea.  After DSK's arrest, BHL penned the following in the Daily Beast:

I do not know what actually happened Saturday, the day before yesterday, in the room of the now famous Hotel Sofitel in New York.

I do not know—no one knows, because there have been no leaks regarding the declarations of the man in question—if Dominique Strauss-Kahn was guilty of the acts he is accused of committing there, or if, at the time, as was stated, he was having lunch with his daughter [we actually know that, given the timeline, DSK's lunch with his daughter is not an alibi, as even his defenders acknowlege --DWD].

I do not know—but, on the other hand, it would be nice to know, and without delay—how a chambermaid could have walked in alone, contrary to the habitual practice of most of New York’s grand hotels of sending a “cleaning brigade” of two people, into the room of one of the most closely watched figures on the planet....

And what I know even more is that the Strauss-Kahn I know, who has been my friend for 20 years and who will remain my friend, bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere. Charming, seductive, yes, certainly; a friend to women and, first of all, to his own woman, naturally, but this brutal and violent individual, this wild animal, this primate, obviously no, it’s absurd.

This morning, I hold it against the American judge who, by delivering him to the crowd of photo hounds, pretended to take him for a subject of justice like any other....

I hold it against all those who complacently accept the account of this other young woman, this one French, who pretends to have been the victim of the same kind of attempted rape, who has shut up for eight years but, sensing the golden opportunity, whips out her old dossier and comes to flog it on television.

I do not know the extent to which BHL fact-checked his column -- for example, the French woman he accuses of being opportunistic now actually went public in 2007 only to have herself censored on French television. 

I do not know the extent to which BHL is aware that DSK's other sexual indiscretions appear to have a greater element of coercion than had been previously realized. 

I do not know why BHL's understanding of "cleaning brigades" is somewhat at odds with the reality of how American hotels actually function. 

I do know that in the United States, BHL's reputation has fallen almost as fast as Ben Stein's. 

So, this raises an exceptionally uncomfortable question for some foreign policy commentators.  BHL might look like a horse's ass right now, but six or seven weeks ago, he was playing a very different role.  According to BHL himself multiple press reports, Bernard-Henri Lévy was the interlocutor between Libya's rebels and the rest of the world.  He therefore played a crucial role in getting French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- and therefore, the West more generally -- to intervene in Libya.  This caused some consternation at the time.  It would obviously set off even louder alarm bells now. 

Given this role, Ben Smith tweets a very valid question:  "So if the order of DSK-gate and Libya are reversed... do we go into Libya?"

This touches on some very interesting questions about temporality, causation, correlation and counterfactuals.  What are the necessary or sufficient conditions for a policy outcome to occur?  Do events have to happen in a particular sequence to reach a particular outcome? Was BHL either a necessary or sufficient condiition for the UN/NATO action in Libya? 

My answer would be that Bernard-Henri Lévy's intellectual reputation was neither necessary nor sufficient for Operation Odyssey Dawn to take place.  Consider the following: 

1)  French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been more circumspect than BHL in commenting on DSK, reflecting the general muteness of the French political class on the topic.  It seems unlikely that BHL's ardent advocacy would have caused Sarkozy to listen to him any less on Libya.

2)  One of the key aspects of the Libya decision was the compressed time frame in which it had to be made.  Qaddafi's forces seemed on the verge of retaking the country within a week.  Debating whether BHL was an honest broker or not seemed pretty peripheral to the real-time changes on the ground in Libya.  It's worth remembering that the Arab League and the UN Security Council acted very quickly by International Organization Standard Time, and I certainly don't think BHL had much of a role to play.  On the scale of things, one would have expected the "flickers" of Al Qaeda presence among the Libyan rebels to have acted as a bigger brake, and yet that fact did not derail the policy either. 

3)  Without in any way diminishing the allegatioons and official charges against DSK, there is a difference between  the (mostly) venal sins of BHL  and the French political class, and the (mostly) mortal sins of Qaddafi and his family  If the Libya decision was happening right now, my hunch is that it would drown out much of the Franco-American contretemps over American puritanism French misogyny one person's failings. 

What do you think?