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Stephen Flynn is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York City. He is the author of the "The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation", and the national best seller "America the Vulnerable". At the Council on Foreign Relations Dr. Flynn has served as working group director and as coauthor of the special report "Neglected Defense", mobilizing the private sector to support Homeland security and as director and principal author for the independent task force report, "America, Still Unprepared, Still in Danger", co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman. Dr. Flynn is a consulting professor at the Center for International Security and Cooperation out here at Stanford University and ranks among the worlds most widely cited experts at Homeland Security, Transportation Security and Political Infrastructure Protection Issues. Since 9/11 he has testified on 17 different occasions on Capitol Hill and also before the Canadian House of Commons in the Canadian Senate. He served in the White House military office during the George. H. W. Bush administration and Director for Global Issues, in the NSC staff, National Security Council staff in the Clinton administration. A graduate at the US Coast Guard Academy, he is also PhD from the Fletcher School of Law in Diplomacy, he has served in the Coast Guard on active duty for 20 years retiring at the rank of Commander. In his new book, The Edge of Disaster, Dr. Flynn shows us why America is still vulnerable to disasters both natural and human made and spends how we can tackle head on the obstacles in national resiliency that yet lie before us. Please join me in welcoming Stephen Flynn. Thank you Michael and thank all of you for coming here this evening. It's a real honor to be back at the World Affairs Council, this is a wonderful forum for talking about so many of the issues that I am passionate about. But one man particularly tonight to be here at San Francisco in dealing with the issues of disaster, obviously something rather familiar to this city and I am going to suggest something that the rest of the country needs to pay attention to, some of the lessons that were garnered out in this place, may be a 100 years ago. I want to talk to you a little bit tonight about both where I think the terrorism issue is, but also in the context of other hazards that will confront us here in the 21st century and suggest that we may need to re-think, not may, we must rethink, the way in which we are dealing with the disruptions and challenges that would confront us in the 21st century, that the current formula is not going to work. Now for somebody who had a book that was the called America the Vulnerable and a new one called The Edge of Disaster, it may seem to be a rather strange stepping off point to say we need to take a deep breathe we are going to get through this. I think in fact there is a good news and the not so good news part of this but all of which is manageable. I think we need to start from the outset and recognize that every generation in this throughout our history has confronted some form of adversity, whether it be wars, major economic downturns, downturns or major natural catastrophes, so it turns out this is a beautiful continent, North America but mother nature periodically gets rather nasty and communities have had to cope with that reality throughout this history and in confronting it we never became less of a nation, virtually all of the time we stepped up to these challenges we came out of it enriched and stronger. I think what unique about our current time is we are almost in denial that disasters will confront us, that somehow we can hold threats beyond our shores, at on bay and somehow we can continue to live in this continent but natural events will not happen that will disrupt our lives, or interrupt our quality of lives, that we can depend upon infrastructures a little more urbanized life that was built by many of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, now we don't even do the upkeep, that some how this is a formula that we can sustain. This is actually unique in our history, I would suggest, that we don't accept adversity as something we will have to deal with and we are not we are not essentially preparing ourselves to confront that. But here is the sort of perhaps good news of sorts, but one that certainly has a lot in it that we need to really think about. In terms of my taking a deep breath I really want to focus entire first on the terrorism issue. I would argue that the way we've been dealing with the Al Qaeda threat and talking about it is simply wrong minded and expression it as though it were the same existential threat that we were confronted within the Cold War that this is a follow on of it. The reality is this is not the threat that terrorism poses today and will pose in the 21st century will not be the equivalent of what we are facing during the Cold War. We are not talking about thermal nuclear war with 30,000 nuclear warheads poise at one another. We are in spasmatic release in the time of the crisis could lead to the end of the way that planet works at nuclear winter and so forth. We are talking virtually any of the scenarios that are current advisories and likely advisories can come up with regard to terrorism as events that will be about like most other major natural disasters. In fact in some cases are likely to be less consequential than most foreseeable even inevitable natural disasters. So, we guess something a bit crazy going on here. We are consuming virtually all of our political capital, a great deal of our intellectual capital, a lot of our power in directing it against one set of hazards that would confront us in the 21st century which is terrorism and we are not using any of those resources to address the foreseeable and likely consequential events that are going to come us, in other ways that are not tied to men, that are tied to acts to God. That's a bit nutty. Because it turns out if we inverted the paradox, if we actually focused on preparing for the likely and consequential events of natural disasters as well as addressing their own growing brittleness of our own society as a result of eroding foundations of infrastructure eroding public safety and public health. Then if we focused on those things even in the absence of the terrorism threat, we will build the capacity that if terrorism raises head on our soil again, it will have a nominal impact on our way of life and our quality of life. So rather than defining as the President has done most recently in the State of the Union address that the terrorism issue is essential the generational stuggle the all encomposing threat that we must focus and harness all our energy in dealing with here. I would suggest you we need to deal with it as one of the hazards, the main menu hazards that are going to confront us in the 21st century. And taking a deep breath this in part recognizing that threat for what it is which is an ability to do localize destruction on US soil as result of people with malicious intent. It's real. It will happen but it is not again the equivalent of an unleashed arsenal nuclear weapons that we were confronting within the Cold War. And so then we have to think about the resources that we've developed to deal with the one set of threat the Cold War problem, whether in fact this is well suited for dealing with these other hazards. So to some extent this is good news is the terrorism threat that we have focused so much of our energy and we are very much wrapped around is probably if we sit back and look at up objectively it is not as life threatening as it often is portrayed. Now here is a not so good news beyond this. The fact is a natural disaster stop is looking very increasingly frightening and terrorism is potential for catastrophe and is potential for massive economic disruption. Now why is that? Well, one is the fact that there is a bit of demographics going on here. 90 percent of Americans today nine out of ten of us live in place that's face - will face a moderate or high-risk of a major natural disaster. And how has that happened? Well it turns out we basically decant from most of the the centre of the country, we move to the coast but half of our population today lives within 50 miles of the coast. So if you are in the Gulf Coast or the East Coast, you got hurricanes to deal with. If you are here in the West Coast you get this little size making line that runs along the length of the place. And basic its - so those realities are things that are going to change the risk factor associated with natural disaster. Then we have the issue of course of climate change. That's not going to affect the earthquake problem but will affect clearly the issues of the hurricanes and the most severe weather issue. The next piece of this component is essentially not only where we will live in terms of proximity to the coast, but where we are living in terms of increasingly urbanized as a society and depending upon infrastructures in a way that predecessp, our prior generations were not. Our just in time lifestyles basically, where many people get down to the last dollar, will then think there is an ATM machine around the corner. Or a last pill and there is a 24 hour drug store that one can go to if you need to refill. And driving around on near empty and the only food in your apartment is the leftover Chinese take up you had the day before. This is in fact the life we live which is much different of course than a couple of generations ago, where people were just more self sufficient because you had to be. You had to have more cash on hand; you had to have more resources on hand because the luxuries of modernity weren't as available. But there is another element to this that I find very sobering as I was doing this work here. And it is that the foundations of modernity as I was mentioning just a little bit ago are ailing. Everything from our power grid to water mains underneath the streets of major cities, to things like dams and locks and levies the things we saw with Katrina, these are things that were built with a treasure, the muscle, the ingenuity of prior generations and just as here civil engineering nature of it, designed largely to last for about 50 years or so. And most of this work was completed in the 1930s. So do the arithmetic, the fact is we are once the envy of the world for the infrastructure we have and I would suggest you California is a perfect illustration of what happens when you make investment in infrastructure, but also as I will talk about in a few minutes a perfect illustration of what happens when you stop making the investment and what danger it may pose. Of course this is very silly, I am an East Coast guy, but as I have looked at the place and visit it periodically and done my research, you know, this was a real semi arid state, loosely populated for a long time until investments were made, particularly after the post second world war era, to bake a massive investment in infrastructure. One of the most important being able to move water around given the semi arid state, to basically provide irrigation to great as we have the central valleys, the most the most fertile bread basket in the world for fruits and vegetables and also to build the infrastructure, to allow people to be concentrated as they are in these major cities near the waterfront. In 1960 when Governor Pat Brown was Governor, 20 percent of the revenues of the State of California went to infrastructure. Today it's less than one percent. Also investment in higher education was a significant part of this. And I would suggest to you that that investment is probably a big part of the reason why that if California were a separate country today it would be the seventh largest economy in the world. It attracted people, it made essentially the ability for communities to work well, it made possible the the agricultural sector to be as prosperous as it is, the ports and so forth and are not just California's ports but in the case of LA Long Beach its really America's port because of the sheer scale of stuff that moves through here, this didn't happen by just living in this real estate, it happened as a result of making these investments. Now we are though in an age where we stopped doing in it. We are like a generation who has moved into our grandparent's mansion and decide we are not going to do any upkeep. We are not going to do the wiring, we are not going to do the plumbing, but we got a nice facade then we look out of the street, ooh! that's a nice place. And if you don't make those prudent investments and maintenance or upgrades from time to time you are going to have a very big price when things go wrong, it's a bit like buying a used car and doing no preventive maintenance. At the end of the day you are going to big Bill is going to come in, when things breakdown that you should have caught on early on. But we are sort of disconnected from this physical infrastructure. We are now in this post industrial economy and most of our lease no longer are tethered things. A 100 years ago Robert Barrens made most of the money in transportation. They made their money in steel mills and they grabbed the lapels of their elected officials some of whom they basically owned and they said fix this stuff. We are making build it because this is essentially what's going to be important for their industries. But today many of our course here being perfect illustration like Silicon Valley, that most office buildings of enormous value are like college campuses. Many of the people who own and operate in them may live in gated communities and get about on corporate jets largely disconnected from the physical infrastructure which is in fact essential for a modern society to operate. And so we face this paradox that our our success was largely about building these foundations and yet and our future prosperity will be based on their being around and likely to being to be up graded but we are basically disconnected from that reality by the ways in which we make wealth and think about our roles in our own society. Now let me bring these pieces together. Essentially we are dealing and define we are going to see increasingly instances of more severe weather. We are facing an issue where the where populations are more exposed than they were in the past, both because of where they live and how they live. It's going to impact on infrastructures that are more brittle than it were in prior years. And the biggest threat here is really natural events more than it is manmade events. Let me highlight one that for me most stuck out that I write about it in the book that you folks should all be not sleeping so well at night thinking about. And it is the Sacramento River delta. I found this whole story rather extraordinary as somebody comes from the east coast. And did life of in the coast guard side where preparedness is a little bit about how you do business and survive the course of the career. But I learned, of course, about the delta, after Katrina and found out that in fact the levies here are more poorly maintained than the ones that were safeguarding New Orleans. I decided I wanted to research and write about it in part because I was reacted I have a real aversion to how I saw a lot of America reacting to the failures in Katrina. As little bit of a holier than thou is those, you know, New Oleanders, or Louisiana, you know kind of little of too much focus on Mardi Gras and not enough on you know the kind of mechanics, you know its basically, you know, Cajun country, all the sort of stuff. So I said, well let's go to again the seventh largest economy in the world, a separate country, some of the highest value, smartest people on the planet congregate in large numbers and let's look at their backyard, lets look so in Silicon Valley, oh we got some levies here, so how we are dealing with your earthen works, it turns out not very well at all. Or animals burrow into them and live, stuff grows on them and people stop maintaining them. Now the problem here, of course, when we get into is not an issue is which is one of the thing primarily has been the focus of localized flooding because the levies won't work. The real issue is the basic element of life or one of the basic element of life is water and two thirds of Californians are dependant upon an estuary in the Sacramento river valley that is essentially protected by levies which was stopped maintaining for about the last two decades. The problem is and I was amazed when I used get out there and of course if you a few folks have made that visit here but it really should stop and just get out of your car and stand on a levy, look at the water and then turn around and see as it drops off 25 to 40 feet below you firmly and it goes as far it will go. That's not how it started. 100 years ago this land was level with the surrounding water. What happened here was there is the seasonal flooding, the farmers who discovered how fertile this soil was and then after they ran out the gold rush, so it was less used as farmland but since it will be seasonal flooding we need to protect it by making an earthen work around the perimeter of these tracks in these islands. There are 57 of them in the Sacramento River valley and then they were about five feet high. And so the land was here, five feet up as levy, five feet was water. But every year they farm the land drop three to four inches because it was basically silt and it oxidized. And so now a 100 years later it fell 25 feet below the surrounding water. So now here is the problem, it turns out like I live in Connecticut and one of the big basic indigenous substances of Connecticut is rock, we have lots of it, in fact there is more rock in my yard than there is soil. I scrapped I have to bring soil in if I dig a shrub because I have to remove more rocks than there is soil available with a little clump around it. We have lot of rock, Central Valley does not. So we built these levies with pete soil and sand. Fine for protecting asparagus and pears not so good for protecting massive housing tracks that are now being put into the Sacramento area as a lower cost of living alternative to living in the Bay area. The protection of these neighborhoods is these levies made of pete soil and sand. The real issue is the earthquake problem. Basically because there is exposure for seismic activity out on the western end of the Sacramento River valley, a 6.5 Richter scale earthquake will shake the ground and will make these levy walls essentially to become like jell. The liquefaction process will basically make them sink into the surrounding water and the estimates are they will have at least, 6.5 is not the worst case scenario - they will have at least where 6.5 was not the worst case scenario but at least 30 major levy breeches in the Sacramental river area. Well this evolution 100 years ago had a big sinkhole. That sinkhole basically is a vacuum that will suck the bays San Francisco Bay water salt water into the estuary. And the problem is the main pumping stations that provide the water for the Bayer for the center valley's irrigation and one third of the water they need in southern California is at the southern point of the estuary that now has been salinated. So you can't send the water into the fields and you can send it to people's homes. You have to shut it down. And we are talking at least a year or more to be able to deal with reality of the salinated water supply. Now when the engineers first came up with the idea of using this area as a hub, for the water system for the State of California they recognized that this was an exposure for earth quakes. So they proposed an aquaduct east of Sacramento and starting outside of this area to bring the water down to the pumping stations. So the water supply system wouldn't be at risk for the seismic event. The money wasn't there. They do it so we got around the trickle down the estuary. In 1978 when there was a decision to expand the use of this water and to bring it south to California a bill was a bond was proposed to build this aquaduct from the canal to do this. And they got mired in north versus South California politics little bit about adolescent I'll be darned if my water goes down to fill up those swimming pools and water those lawns down in Southern California. That's my tax tolls is paying for this. And so the bond was overwhelmingly shot down in the politicians doubt what this felt this is like kryptonite - and everybody has been marching along merrily for the subsequent almost 30 years pretending this problem won't happen. This is crazy. Everything that I just laid out for has nothing to do with the war on terrorism as a lot to do with our own problems here at home. Our own vulnerability as result of our own neglect and inner vulnerability as a result of our failure to confront the reality that will have national defense. So how do I tie this all together? I am a national security guy. How did I get into this business or end up writing this book? Well, I only provide a little bit of background on that because basically as it - out of my own education my first experience in this arena was dealing was in the White House military office dealing with the ultimate crisis, thermal nuclear war stuff. I have I have learned - went into the football because carry around next to the President. Those were not the good old days, by the way. The oh, throughout the 90s, I increasingly focused on the issues of organized crime and terror. And what I nearly found by the late 90s I was upset about was the national security establishment that wasn't recognizing this threat had evolved. This threat has changed and that they need it to address that reality. It wasn't it going to be another state actor. There was going to sort of push this thing through and so but I would never challenge the notion that national security however it's defined should be the prime of theory focus of our intellectual capital and our economic resources. Whatever was the flavor of the month of national security that's what the federal government should be focused on. And two things shook that foundation that I had been operating on. The first was a colleague of mine at the council Laurie Garrett and dealing with the issue who deals with the issues of global disease. And once I sort of got into find out about the pandemic flu challenge I stepped back and said, you know, I can't go with any military scenario, short of a spasmadic release of the remaining arsenals of the United States and Russia. They guess we near the loss of life or near the potential economic disruption of when the Avian flu virus becomes transmittable from human to human. Nothing comes close. We are talking at least a 100 million people dead and we are talking according to the World Bank estimates some of the order of two percent drop in GDP in the first year or about $800 billion. And yet this problem was largely invisible in Washington. And then Katrina I can't go with any terrorism scenario that would destroy 95,000 square miles of land and 330,000 homes. No one - I mean a nuclear weapon in a consternate place worse case yeah that's the one it pushes it close. And yet that was a state local problem. Not a problem for a federal government to deal with. What's crazy about this is that in fact the hazards that were most likely to confront are going to come to us not from acts of man but again from acts of god and from my own neglect. So let me finish by essentially making my case to the prescription. The prescription is I was just in the war on terror, the best defense - good defense. Augmented by offence when the union intelligence supported, which you probably won't have very much oh, most of the time. By being resilient the terrorists our adversaries don't get what they most want which is massive economic disruption or massive societal disruption. And making investments therefore when these attacks happen - should they happen and they don't deliver what they hope it will deliver they have to rethink why doing it, its actually difficult as we are finding to carry out a large scale attack in US soil takes at least about three years putting together. And if you got to get a fissile this may not be the best place to do it. And so unlike the President Bill Clinton said the only way we win the war on terror is to take out all of the enemy. He said there is one question about which we should have no debate. Well, I'm here to say is we need to debate it. It's not working very well trying to take it to the enemy and it's an alternative course of action which makes us all more resilient. But let's not do it around the terrorist threat let's do it around the foreseeable consequential events that will face us which are the likely natural disasters for the ailing foundations there. Let's make those investments and by making those investments at the end of day it will be a safer society, a more prosperous society, every dollar we invest in resiliency is a dollar that will have a return itself many fold improving our quality of life and the safety of our children and our children's children. This is a perhaps prudent point after five plus years since 9/11 to rethink what we have identified as the gravest threat to confront a generation. To broaden the horizons and acknowledge that there are other hazards there and redirect attention towards where we are today towards the challenges that confront us inside. In short, we should make building national resiliency here at home as much of a priority as confronting threats beyond our border. I like to finish with the words of a of our most Eloquent President. It's a wonderful book it says about Ronald White, Eloquent President something that he made is I think is a very important observation that we should very much keep at the forefront here today. He made as the young lawyer arriving in Springfield in 1938 and as was the custom of the time king of a debutant experience you have to give a speech. And Abraham Lincoln in his speech talked about how America then 50 years after the election of the first President George Washington what and thinking about the dangers to the republic what they were. The danger Lincoln said would not come from some transatlantic military giant but rather from foes and forces that must spring up amongst us and where is that remember down to the years Lincoln once said "If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be it's author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we must live through all time or die by suicide." What Lincoln was saying was the principles that founded this country are eternal. And the only therefore way they can be threatened is when we ourselves lose faith in them when we ourselves refuse to invest in them. We have a class of civilization going on today is an asymmetric one. We will have to deal with the reality that there are folks out there who confront our views but it's not a coequal one. Our values will endure as long as we say true to them and my recommendation is we focus on resiliency as a component of read - and identifying these values and making those prudent investments and confronting terrorism like other hazards and some will just have to cope with in the course of the 21st century. So with those remarks I hope I have stirred some questions amongst you about any of these issues and perhaps some more ideas about what we will do in terms of prescription. Thank you.