Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Perspective on Brexit

With its sovereignty back, I look for Britain to do better in the future.


       In prior posts I have lobbied in favor of Brexit.  Before you rail at me for being an American with an opinion on Brexit, let me say that my mother died a British subject and  that our family lived in England for stretches of my youth and for parts of my education.  Until fairly recently, we had relatives there who frequently discussed the ongoing politics, problems and the geopolitical landscape there.  I am an American, but I still care for the home of some of my ancestors.

            I was very pleased to hear that the British people had voted to exit the European Union.   How could one possibly be pleased about receiving 40% of one's laws from Brussels ?   Britain had sold its sovereignty and the quality of life in Britain has been deteriorating significantly for some time.

            As for the fears that Brexit will adversely impact everything from the world economy to intelligence gathering, I will say this.

1. Britain never abandoned the British pound sterling.  The fifth largest economy in the world still has its own currency, and still has its own banks.  After a period of adjustment which will include a transitory decrease in the value of the pound against other currencies, there will be a recovery.  Britain will go on to steer its own ship for the betterment of its people.

2. Britain's intelligence services is legendary.  Information on terrorism will still be obtained and shuttled to the correct authorities. They will still communicate with Interpol and Europol. Why wouldn't they ?  Terrorism adversely impacts everyone.

3. With 340 million pounds a year staying home rather than going to the EU in taxes, perhaps the failing National Health Service will see some of that money.

     Scotland's leaders are now seeking an additional referendum so that their citizens have an opportunity to consider remaining in the EU.  They should think again.  It might not be there long.

        This could indeed start the death knell for the European Union.  Yesterday, Marine LePen, of the far right party was calling for a referendum in order to give the French the option of departing from the EU.   There are groups in the Netherlands and in Germany who also wish to abandon the EU.

        The reality is that the world's people's dislike receiving directions from a central body.  They dislike their money going to unseen groups, particularly in large sums to refugees who are seeking better economic pastures, often at their own expense.

        Perhaps after a period of adjustment, the end of both the European Union and the European Central Bank will benefit the people.

A simplified version, not my own, which came to me via Linkedin.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Things You Should Be Doing Toward Preparation Which Require Little or No Money



  When we consider preparing for natural disasters, job losses or other trials, we often consider the items which are high dollar.  A lot of us think about freeze dried food, medical supplies, evacuation bags or luggage, etc. Many of us have emptied savings accounts in order to get our preps up to snuff.   Prepping isn't just an activity, it is a mindset. Some of the most important things we can do toward preparation, don't cost much money, or they don't cost money at all.   Of course, I listed many of these things in my book:

    Rational Preparedness: A Primer to Preparedness

which incidentally, isn't a lot of money itself.

            Many times, once we've shelled out savings for a generator, or perhaps a fully outfitted EMT kit this leaves quite a bit of time while you are saving again for additional preps.

Here are some things you can do toward preparedness during those frugal times:

1.  Inventory and organize the emergency and preparedness items you do have.
   I made the mistake recently of ordering a case of vinyl medical gloves for animal care without realizing that I already owned a case of vinyl gloves that was so large it had to be stored somewhere other than the medical supplies.  Make sure you have notebooks with inventory. It's alright to have inventories on your computer, but there should be a hard copy as well.    

2. Put some time in on training that dog you adopted for family protection or as a watch dog or an alert dog.
  Get a couple of library books on dog training, and use this time to connect with and train your dog.  Most of my dogs are rescues and 100% of them were trainable.

3. Get a library book or two on hair cutting
  Carefully cut a family members hair.  This is a skill that can be learned. I have been cutting my family's hair for years, and I am much better at it than in those first few times. Wal-Mart actually sells quite good hair cutting scissors.

4. Read a couple of library books on Canning.    
  Be clear on which book works best for you before spending money on a canning book.
 This is my favorite book on canning, but you might like another book more.
Mrs Wage's Home Canning Book

5. Actually write out your family evacuation plan and make a family evacuation notebook.
 Review and update this plan with your family members every year.   List out what emergencies would trigger a preemptive evacuation on your family's part.  List out a family evacuation procedure which includes your pets.  Remember to list locking of certain doors including exteriors before your departure.  Find your local maps and place them in your family evacuation notebook.  In a variety of emergencies GPS may not be effective, and often Google maps are quite incorrect in rural areas.  Make sure that your family knows the name and number of an out of state contact you could use, should you become separated and need to contact a person to shuffle messages should communication in your own area become difficult.

6..  Write out each of your family's medical issues and medications they are taking, and put the pages in your evacuation notebook.  
  For the families who had to leave New Orleans in a hurry, this helped them renew prescriptions through doctors and pharmacists in emergency shelters.

7. Xerox copies of your dogs and cats immunization records especially rabies.
 Place these in your evacuation notebook.  Proof of rabies and other immunizations would allow them more boarding options should you need to leave your area in an emergency.

8. Locate a handy place to store your evacuation notebook.  
It should be accessible but not easily picked up, read or moved by others who aren't in your family..

9. Go through your family first aid kits.
   You should have a first aid kit that is prepared and used for family evacuation, and you should have one which remains in your home for use there.   If kept in a cool, dry and dark place a lot of the items are useful beyond their expiration date, however, everything in the kits needs to be looked at and repacked annually. This is done so that you can replace anything truly expired, and also so that you are truly familiar with the items in your kit.

10. Photograph each room of your home and your possessions.
       Whether you have homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance, neither of them will pay to replace lost items, regardless of the amount of insurance you pay, without proof.  A room by room series of photographs of your home's interior and more detailed photos of more valuable possessions should be taken.  Then make a couple of discs with the photographs on them, mark it with black magic marker, and also put the photos on a flash drive.  Put one copy of the disc in your evacuation notebook, one in your safe, and give one to a trusted friend out of the area.  You might want to make a copy of the declarations page of your homeowner's insurance along with the company name, agent name and all contact information including e-mail, fax, phone, and address.  I have known several families who have lost everything to home fire or forest fire in the last few years. This is not a costly endeavor yet it could save you a fortune.

11. Research metal roofing. 
     See if the next time you need to roof your home whether this is an intelligent or viable alternative. For many people, it is.

  There are many things that you can do until you once again have money for prepping. Some of these things are just as, if not more important than some of the high dollar items.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Capsized Boat in Russia

Lake Syamozero

           Having spent time in Far Eastern Russia at an orphanage, I learned many things.  One of them is that orphans in Russian orphanages vacation fairly often, particularly in Summer.  If they are physically able, most of them are taught to swim.  These are often not trips of a couple of days, but a couple of weeks. Often such trips are among the happiest memories these children have. They are also fairly educational trips in that they focus on the flowers and plants of a region, and the children are given opportunities to draw and paint what they see.
             This week, 47 children,  a number of whom are Russian orphans from the Moscow region were vacationing at Lake Syamozero, which is fairly near the border with Finland. This is in the Karelia Region.  This is an absolutely gorgeous place. The children on the trip  ranged from about 9 years old to about 16 and some of them were siblings. While the children were on a large boat in the lake in bad weather, it capsized.  Thirteen children between the ages of about 9-11have died and one remains missing.
             Please pray for the children who lost their lives, the one who has not yet been located, and for the survivors of this accident. We send condolences to their families and their friends.
             This is a good time to review boat and water safety with your own children.

Last Chance for Brexit


The queen supports Brexit

    Angele Merkel's Europe is delusional.  It seems to think that it has unlimited funds with which to accept hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and anywhere else.  In many places in Europe, the 2008 economic crash has left many unemployed and even more people, particularly the young, underemployed.  Many of them will never be able to marry, have children and support a family, unless they try to do so in their own bedrooms in their parent's homes.  England operates under a similar delusion. All over England, the elderly survivors of WWII watch their pensions cut under austerity. My own aunt lay on her own kitchen floor in London for twelve hours before an ambulance came to take her to a hospital, despite the fact that her primary physician knew she was extremely ill.  Austerity cut their pensions and the assistance to British people, while Muslim immigrants receive free council housing, free groceries, a clothing allowance, free education,free health care and free medication.  There are reasons families are taking unreasonable risks to get to England. I am not opposed to aid for people who need it, regardless of their religion. I am however, opposed to long term highly unbalanced aid to refugees as is presently the case. Muslim refugees aren't the only people on the British gravy train. People from many other countries are presently on welfare rolls while some elderly homeless Brits sleep in London in cardboard boxes.

            England has been a limited member of the European Union. It chose to keep its currency of the British pound sterling.  In the last few years, many British people have wondered if perhaps decisions made in the continent of Europe are hurting their nation.  Later this month there will be a vote as to whether Britain leaves the European Union.  As an American, I do not have a vote. However, as a person eligible for British subject status, I have an opinion on the matter which I will share here.  I support Britain's exit from the European Union.  With so many connections and rules coming from Europe, when hard times and economic collapses come, it will be impossible for corrections to be made on the part of individual nations. All nations will experience economic failures by virtue of their inflexible ties to one another. When one falls they all do, rather than one nation being able to help another in times of economic strife.

             I have no doubt that Jo Cox, a graduate of Cambridge University, and a Member of Parliament for the past year, is a decent person and a loving wife and mother. Her murder by a mentally ill man on a British street is both horrific and devastating.  Mrs. Cox opposed Brexit and she also felt that Britain should continue to accept more refugees.  Until her murder, polling suggested that Britons would likely vote to exit. Now that a supporter of remaining in the European Union has died in such an horrific manner, polls indicate the opposite.

          For a moment, let's decide what is right for England.  Stepping back from the European Union and careful assessment of Britain's resources is in order. With the economic failure of Greece and other nations, it will benefit the whole to have Britain unencumbered by the economic laws of the European Union.

         Let's not allow the death of a politician to sway the public into voting in a manner that is not right for England.  Please, despite the death of Jo Cox, consider carefully a vote for Brexit.

More data:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Politician is Murdered in a Place You Might Not Expect

Jo Cox   Labour Party Member of Parliament


     The next time that someone tells you that the US "is the only place in the civilized world where murders are taking place in the street", don't believe it.

                 Today, forty one year old British politician  Jo Cox, was killed after meeting constituents in the street at a planned event. She tends to have such meetings almost weekly.   Jo Cox had worked hard on behalf of immigration and on encouraging Brits to remain in the European Union.   Tempers are high in England with the Brexit vote coming.   A 52 year old man grabbed her by the hair, yelled at her, stabbed her, kicked her, and when bystanders intervened, witnesses say he shot her with a firearm.   Yes, in England where no one has one, and even the police are only issued one if they are special police and it's an unusual circumstance.  The assailant was apparently upset concerning Jo Coxes efforts to admit so many culturally and ethnically diverse people into England that he felt it was threatening Britain's cultural identity.  He was shouting "Britain First !" as he attacked, according to bystanders.

                Jo Cox was the wife of Brandon and the mother of two young children, a precious little boy and a girl.    I don't share her politics, but no one deserves to be attacked in the street while they are doing their job. Jo Cox has been an MP only for about a year, and was very highly regarded.  The assailant has a long history of mental illness, and  is fortunate that Britain has no death penalty presently.

Layered Tragedies for Orlando

Orlando, Florida

        One of my closest and dearest friends lives in Orlando. Why have I not mentioned the layered tragedies there this week ?  First, a young woman who was a favorite on The Voice was signing autographs there, and was shot to death while signing autographs after her concert. Her brother tackled the assailant preventing the deaths of many, but mainstream media will not tell you that.  Second, a young Muslim, born in the US, who had a long history of raising red flags for employers, friends, ex-spouses, and schools, shot to death 49 people in a bar, and injured a bit more than 50 more.  Six of the injured remain in critical condition with more deaths anticipated.  Twice the FBI had investigated him for potential terroristic threats. A police department to which he had applied to work also called Homeland Security about his behavior, and yet, the system did not work in order to protect the people who happened to be in that bar in Orlando that night.
The third tragedy that happened in Orlando this week is that a two year old boy who was visiting Disneyworld with his parents and siblings was snatched from the edge of the lagoon by an alligator. His father was injured while trying to get him back. A number of alligators were euthanized and their stomach contents examined while the specific alligator was located.  Meanwhile, the child's body was found.  A Canadian and a British couple have reported to other news groups that their own children were almost snatched there in the weeks that preceded.  Why would alligators be kept within reach of small children at a family park ?

          Our president may not admit that militant Islamists are at war with the west and specifically with the United States. Of course, most Americans realize that most Muslims here are decent people who just wish to raise families here. However, a militant extreme subgroup of Islamists exists and wishes to create as much death and mayhem as possible here in the US.  Not to admit this truth is not to have an operational and successful plan to battle these anticipated series of attacks.  Look at France which has weathered a series of attacks in the last few years. Such attacks are here now as illegals from the Middle East come through the Mexican border to us illegally and disappear in our nation. Intelligence analysts tell us there are likely to be many many sleeper sells waiting to activate this entire month of Ramadan.


         Our government has not listened to its citizenry in almost eight years. All we can do is obtain concealed weapons permits if we are permitted to in our region by law, and train to be the safest and most reliable shot possible. This is not where the responsibility ends. We must also make sure we are trained well enough to hold on to that weapon if we are ever rushed by an attacker.  We must also keep our children and criminals from gaining access to the weapon. We must protect against accidental discharge of the weapon while cleaning, carrying or maintaining it.   We should absolutely avoid any location which is a gun free zone where we are sitting ducks.   We must train dispassionately for the day when a militant Islamist or other active shooter tries a mass shooting in our own midst.  We must be able to grab our weapon, vanquish the threat he is causing by pumping several rounds into the largest part of his body. We must know enough about our weapon and ammo and be practiced enough NOT to endanger bystanders while we are vanquishing the shooter. Then we must remove his weapon from him, notify police, and render aid to those who have been shot until ambulances arrive.   You notice I did not call them first responders, because WE are the first responders.   This is a large responsibility and a crushing one, but I assure you, it is ours.   The choice is to prepare for such a day now, or stand helplessly as you and your children are gunned down at a birthday dinner at Chipotle or similar restaurant.  Think about this.  We may not be able to catch each nut with radical Islamist thought disorders. However, we can make sure that at any location he might choose that ten of fifty people are licensed, trained and ready to vanquish a mad dog such as he.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Trip to Gander Mountain

This is the store in Chesterfield, Missouri, but it looks a lot like the one I visited this week.

           For those of you who read this blog from another nation other than the US, Gander Mountain is not a mountain in the Blue Ridge west of Shenendoah National Forest.  Gander Mountain is a store chain which sells quality outdoor clothing, upscale camping gear, archery, camping, fishing, boating supplies and much more.  The boots and shoe collection is quite impressive.  They also sell a number of Liberty and other brands of safes.  They also sell a broad range of firearms both new and used, and absolutely everything that goes with them. Yes, they have a computer system which is connected to the Virginia State Police so that all of the requisite background checks can be done prior to gun purchases. Only Virginia residents may buy guns here and they too must endure the required checks.

           My husband took our sons to an action movie I would rather have skipped this weekend, and so I found myself with a few hours with nothing particularly pressing to do.  I decided to go to a couple of the places I never have a chance to stop in when I'm out with family or otherwise chugging to the next destination. Gander Mountain was one of those.

          I hadn't intended to spend two hours there, but somehow I did.   There was quite a bit of nice outdoor clothing including some cargo pants I looked at for my sons, but decided I also wanted for myself someday as well.  They had exquisitely made cargo pants in a variety of sizes and colors for $29.99.    Next, I spent some time looking through some of the clearance racks.  Then, I stopped to look at quality backpacks, push packs, and range bags.   Eventually I found my way to the great selection of handguns and rifles.  I was surprised to see such a large collection of quality used weapons including a fairly large collection of Sig Sauer.
           They also had one of the broadest collections of ammunition I have seen anywhere. Whether you need 7 mm, of 22 LR they had some.   I really enjoyed the really large section of all types of safes, and accessories that would help you organize one, whatever the size.  If you have a chance, take a gander at Gander Mountain. Pun intended.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Winners Announced in the Fiberfix Giveaway

           It was maddening to have the internet down here when I was itching to announce the winners of the Fiberfix giveaway.     The internet came back online just after lunch.

            Two winners were picked from folded papers I placed in a small fishbowl.

One winner is Matt   who lives in Virginia

the other is

Karen      whom I hope will be sending me her address shortly.

(I am keeping their last names private due to potential identity theft.)

Congratulations winners !    Thank you to everyone who participated.

   This was a lot of fun for me and I had a chance to talk to a lot of our readers from the beginning and also some people who are new to reading Rational Preparedness.   I plan to do other giveaways !

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Reprise of Thoughts on Financial Collapse

I wrote and originally posted this post on 10/22/2013. Judging from the number of recent visits to it, it has found new relevance. I am reprising it here.
What is behind this door ?  Is it a basement, a coat closet, or a pantry ? We won't know until we open it.

 My interest in general preparedness began in 1979 when I was a college student.  I thought it made sense to be reasonably prepared for short term weather situations which could be downright dangerous for those who hadn't given thought to ice storms or snowdrifts.  I also commuted great distances to clinical affiliations all over the New York, Northern NJ area, and once, I had to stay in a hotel because I couldn't get back home in Winter.   That year I also read a book called "Crisis Investing" by Douglas Casey and it broadened my horizons.  For the first time I read that many people thought that both the culture and the government of the United States spent money unwisely and that eventually a financial collapse which would likely be worse than The Great Depression.   My parents, like most parents of the day, believed in reasonable preparations.  My father kept extra oil filters, extra oil, and tools for emergency repairs.  My mother kept basement shelves with canned goods on them and a couple of times she met with women from the nearby church and they all learned to can whatever they had each year in abundance.   When I graduated from nursing school and moved into one of my first jobs, a patient who was being discharged from the hospital was required to have a disaster plan on their chart as part of discharge planning.  Most nurses hated doing this, but I didn't.  The idea that we could do everything correctly, and then discharge the patient with specialized equipment, and then have all our work go down the drain when the power went out, bothered me. I took discharge planning and post discharge disaster planning very seriously for my patients. Sometimes this meant that they needed to stay ahead on medication. Other times it meant that a second device was kept in their home in the event that the first one malfunctioned or a power surge blew its logic board. Sometimes it meant that extra oxygen tanks were delivered to the home.  As time passed, the care many people receive in the hospital has deteriorated probably secondary to staffing far fewer numbers of licensed nurses, and the over-reliance on those in scrubs who aren't really nurses, and weren't really educated or trained as such. .  Many times patient and family teaching has suffered, and the preparedness plan for the medically fragile has become less common despite its continued great importance.

              When I married and had children part of being a good parent was to be prepared. I was prepared for high fevers following routine immunizations. I was prepared for vomiting and diarrheal illnesses.  Once again, I heard concerns about a financial collapse in the US.

               My kids are mostly grown now, and although it has taken all those years to get here, most Americans know about the very real possibility of an American financial collapse. They might not have believed in in early 2008, but by the end of that year a great recession began that either cost the family a retirement account, a job, a particular career, their homes, their pets, and sometimes their spouse and family. Very few families have been unscathed by this recession, and very few people believe the propaganda that it's on its way out the door.

                I think I liked it much better when mentions of an American financial collapse were simply an intellectual exercise, and an economic what-if.  We have always had a back up plan as to what we would do or where we would go, and of course, we never expected to need to use it. In the past year we have seen the loss of funds people had on deposit with banks in Greece. We have seen their government take over pensions. We have seen Portugal, Italy, Spain,  and other nations struggle with austerity measures. We have seen riots in the United Kingdom and France as austerity measures began to be implemented.  We have seen the Middle East on fire and our ally, or perhaps more accurately our former ally, Egypt fall into a bitter civil war in which Christians and Muslims have been tortured and murdered for having been the wrong religion in the wrong place at the wrong time. We have watched as Al Qaeda has made great inroads in North Africa, and as China locks up the rare Earth metals and mining business around the world.  Russia has paid down it's nations debts and enjoys a shining transformation from the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.  Capitalism, hard work, and the energy business has transformed Russia into a shining star of business and of culture. I do not begrudge them this success.  I do however sit in awe of my nation having elected an unqualified individual who has strong armed and implemented radical ideas, while Congress doesn't seem to be able to put the breaks on the runaway train of fundamental transformation of this nation into a Third World country.

             Now, as I spend time out in the world I see people planning for "the great collapse" and for "hyperinflation".  One woman told me today that she was stocking OTC medication for the day when the doctors quit and none of us could get one.  The Great Collapse was something I gave a little bit of thought to in my twenties. I believed that some of my assets should be spent in preparation for reasonable possibilities like floods, Winter storms, ice, earthquakes, and even domestic terrorism.  I honestly didn't think there would be a genuine collapse in my lifetime.  However, now people in stores tell me that the US debt, which is only conservatively assessed at 17 trillion using federal imaginative mathematics, is too large for spent America to pay back. Ordinary people now believe that the World's Reserve Currency will no longer be the US dollar, and that collapse, poverty, violence, attempted secession, and even civil war are coming.   I liked it much better when this was an intellectual exercise we all thought might never happen.

            I would love to have a "Pull-up-the-ladder-Jack, I'm-alright" attitude about a financial collapse, but I can't.  Even if by some magical circumstance my preparations were enough to help carry my family through a short term interruption in supplies, what about our friends ?   What about the people who helped build this farm ?  What about the men and women where my husband works, and their families ?  What about all the people who have been so good to my daughter in her challenging new job ?  I am not okay with being alright while "Rome burns".

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Eight More Days Until Fiberfix Winners Announced


               There are only eight more days left until June 10th when I finally pick the names of two winners from my glass fishbowl, from the papers with names of those whose entered.  The winners will each get one package of Fiberfix, similar to the package pictured above.  Those in the US and in Canada who are not related to me or who are not employees of Fiberfix are still eligible to enter until that time.

                          I am actually excited about this, and I think I may do some similar giveaways in future.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Timely and Expert Commentary

      This is not my work product.  It is the timely and very important writings of Charles Faddis .    Please read this.  It appears in Homeland Security Today.  I am reprinting it here so that as many people as possible read this. Luckily for us, Charles (Sam) Faddis is running for Congress.

SPECIAL ANALYSIS: Charles Faddis on, Time is of the Essence to Prevent Global Chaos and Conflict

By: Charles Faddis

06/01/2016 ( 6:56am)

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In the summer of 2002, I was sitting in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan on the Iranian border. I was the leader of an eight man CIA team which had been sent into Iraq to locate and acquire intelligence on a suspect terrorist weapon of mass destruction (WMD) manufacturing facility under the control of a Muslim extremist group called Ansar Al Islam and Al Qaeda operatives.

Over the course of several weeks, my team acquired chapter and verse on the facility, and the operatives associated with it. Avoiding detection, we mapped the enemy’s positions down to pinpoint accuracy, transmitted hundreds of pages of intelligence back to Washington, and then put together a detailed proposal for an immediate strike on the facility.

We were in the right place at the right time. We had the advantage of surprise. With one quick blow, we could have ended this growing threat to our national security. But our request for an immediate strike was denied.

Subsequent proposals were also turned down. Action was instead deferred for further analysis and deliberation.  When the attack on the target compound did occur, it was nine months too late … and telegraphed too far in advance. All of the key terrorist personnel at the site escaped and lived to fight and kill Americans another day.

Business as usual

What happened to me and my team in the mountains of Kurdistan was not an aberration. It had happened before … and it has happened since -- on innumerable occasions. Like a lumbering, awkward giant chasing a smaller, more nimble foe, we stumble after our prey.  We build giant bases. We moved mass numbers of troops and spend billions of dollars in a vain attempt to corner the enemy, which can be vanquished when caught with a relatively minimal amount of force. We become mired in ruinous nation-building exercises when we should have kept our eye on the prize and focus all our energies on the elimination of terrorist cells which threaten the homeland.

At home, our methods are just as ill-suited for the task at hand. We suffered the tragedy of 9/11 because we did not have the right human sources in the right places to give us advance, actionable warning. What we needed was to reenergize human intelligence, destroy the culture of risk aversion that was crippling our efforts to penetrate terrorist organizations abroad, and turn loose a small number of select, seasoned operators to hunt our enemies to the ends of the earth.

Instead, we built massive new bureaucracies, filled hundreds of new buildings with flat screen computer monitors and “analysts,” and made the preparation of PowerPoint presentations virtually our state religion. Process became king. We were, apparently, going to win the “war on terror” by burying those who would attack us in paperwork and forms.

Fifteen years after 9/11, the results are clear to see. Usama Bin Laden is dead … Al Qaeda is not. While we have prevented another mass casualty attack on US soil, we have not come close to destroying the organization that brought down the Twin Towers. It lives on in a variety of guises in a variety of locations -- in places like Syria and Yemen it retains considerable power. Threats to the homeland persist.

More ominously, Al Qaeda’s progeny, groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, continue to grow in power and influence. ISIS has created a true terrorist nation-state in the heart of the Middle East. Boko Haram has carved out its own caliphate in West Africa.

A very grim future

The future looks even grimmer. We live in a dangerous world which is becoming more dangerous and chaotic by the day. Threats are not diminishing; they are merely multiplying, and their ability to threaten us is increasing proportionately. As we look across the globe, we see the proliferation of extremist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram.  This trend will continue to be driven by demographics and competition for resources.  The poor of the world will become more desperate -- not less so -- in coming decades, and the forces that have fueled the rise in extremism and extremist groups will only intensify.

In many parts of the world -- the United States, Europe and China, for instance -- population growth has stopped and population totals are declining. In the developing world, though, it is a very different story. There, populations are exploding. Nations that can barely sustain their current populations are faced with the challenge of feeding, educating and employing vastly larger populations.

Many of these nations will not meet this challenge. They will fail, and when they fail, they will unleash the forces of chaos and conflict. What American geopolitical thinker Saul Cohen calls the “shatterbelts” of the world -- areas where nation-states are disintegrating and chaos reigns supreme -- will explode in size.

In 2013, the world population reached 7.2 billion. The developing world was home to 5.9 billion of those.  As of 2050, the world’s population will reach 9.6 billion, and almost all of that growth will occur in the developing world.  In fact, by 2050, the developing world will be home to 8.3 billion human beings. That means over 85 percent of the people on the planet will be living in the poorest, most economically and politically challenged nations.

As this population explosion in the world’s poorest nations takes place, the average age of persons in these countries will continue to plummet. By 2050, 24 nations will have populations with an average age under 25. The youngest populations on Earth will be in Niger, Mali, Zambia and Somalia.

The impact of this population explosion in the poorest, least resilient nations on the planet can hardly be exaggerated. Nations already wracked by violence and teetering on the brink of chaos are going to be buried under billions of new citizens. Nations with astronomical unemployment rates are going to be faced with hordes of angry, unemployed young people unable to find work, unable to feed themselves … and looking for someone and something to blame.

The impact of this population bomb will be magnified by the struggle for resources. A planet already struggling to find enough energy, water and food will be even more desperate.  Entire cities and nations may face collapse as a result.

Estimates are that worldwide demand for energy will increase by 35 percent by 2035 as compared to 2010. Fossil fuels will provide about 75 percent of this supply, with the gas sector seeing the largest growth. Most of the growth will occur in emerging economies, throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

In short, while the United States is rapidly moving toward self-sufficiency in energy, the rest of the world will be locked in a desperate race to keep pace with growing demand.  Competition for oil, natural gas and coal, already fierce, will only increase. And as it does, this competition will spark conflict and soaring prices.  The increased cost of energy, and, in many places, its scarcity, will in turn generate more conflict.

The basic resources

Perhaps more threatening than competition over fossil fuels, however, is the increasing difficulty of satisfying the need for the most basic resources of all, water and food.

Forty years ago, when intensive modern farming started, there were 120 cubic miles (500 cubic kilometers) of water beneath the Saudi desert.  In recent years, up to 5 cubic miles (21 cubic kilometers) has been pumped to the surface annually for use on farms. Virtually none of it is replenished.  Experts estimate four-fifths of the Saudis' "fossil" water is now gone. The rest will be exhausted in the very near future.

Yemen has one of the world’s fastest growing populations. But because of overuse of groundwater water tables there, the nation’s aquifers are declining an average two meters a year. In Sana’a, the capital city, tap water is available once every four days. In Taiz, a smaller city in the south, tap water is available once every three weeks. Because of falling water tables, the grain harvest has declined by one-third over the last 40 years. Yemen now imports more than 80 percent of its grain.

The story is grim even in relatively well off Jordan. Forty years ago, Jordan was producing over 300,000 tons of grain a year. Today, it produces 60,000 tons and imports 90 percent.

Across the planet, similar stories are unfolding. In the face of an exploding population in the poorest nations, water and food are becoming increasingly scarce. Endemic violence and forced mass migration are the result. What we see in Europe today with waves of migrants from the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa is only the beginning of what promises to be a generational phenomenon, with tens of millions fleeing war and famine.

Succinctly stated, we are headed into a long period of instability, and, in the middle of this whirlwind are an increasing array of deadly weapons whose proliferation is virtually certain. For years we speculated on when terrorist groups would begin to avail themselves of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The use of chemical weapons by ISIS on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq is now routine. The threat of the use of chemical weapons in Europe is so immediate the French have issued nerve gas antidotes from military stockpiles to civilian clinics and hospitals across the nation.

The investigation of terrorist attacks in France and Belgium recently uncovered efforts by ISIS-affiliated terrorists to attack nuclear power plants near Brussels. In response, several European nations have issued stocks of iodine tablets to their citizens living near nuclear plants. The tablets are to be taken in the event of a terrorist attack and a catastrophic release of radiation.

Just a few weeks ago, Kenyan authorities reported the arrest of ISIS operatives in that nation planning a biological terrorist attack using anthrax spores taken from a research laboratory. The plot was not simply aspirational -- the cell in question already had personnel in place in the target lab.


None of these events is isolated or unique. The age of terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction is upon us. Prior to 9/11, the notion of a terrorist attack that could cause 3,000 deaths was considered science fiction. No longer. In the not so distant future, if we are not vigilant, biological terrorist attacks may kill tens of thousands, while attacks on nuclear power plants may force the evacuation of major metropolitan areas for a generation – or longer!

Taken all together, the kind of factors I’ve outlined paint a picture of a violent, turbulent future.  Mass migrations of impoverished populations will continue, and increase in scale. Poor nations will crumble under the pressure of population growth, poverty and resource scarcity. Failed states will be common. Extremist states like that being carved out by ISIS will continue to plague us. And weapons of mass destruction will become more and more widespread.

We will need to continue to protect the citizens of the United States in this dangerous world, and we will need to do so in a way which is affordable and sustainable.  We cannot invade and occupy every nation that threatens us, nor can we simply sit and wait while threats gain strength. We will need to learn, or perhaps relearn, how to fight in bold, unconventional ways which maximize our strengths and exploit the weaknesses of our enemies.

So far, we have pursued the so-called “war on terror” as if time were inevitably on our side; as if muddling along was good enough because the enemy would inevitably fade away. But time is not on our side. The enemy is not withering or faltering. In fact, new enemies are appearing all the time, and arming themselves with ever more deadly weapons. A protracted stalemate guarantees only that we will pay an ever higher price in lost lives and treasure.

Business as usual will not do. We do not need, nor can we afford, mere bureaucracy and half measures, but rather bold, decisive strikes against terrorist groups that threaten us. As fast as a threat materializes, we need to detect it, act against it, and destroy it. Delay means the loss of lives, perhaps a great many lives. Time is not on our side. Time, is, in fact, of the essence.

Faddis served more than 20 years in the CIA as a Clandestine Services operations officer who led the first CIA team into Iraq nine months in advance of the post-9/11 2003 invasion of that nation.

After serving abroad in the Middle East, South Asia and Europe, Faddis retired in 2008 as head of the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center (CTC)’s Weapons of Mass Destruction unit charged with pursuing terrorists’ weapons of mass destruction programs around the globe. He’s also managed large organizations, worked across the Intelligence Community and Department of Defense, and has been involved in national security matters at the highest levels of government. He’s also spent more than his fair share of time running sources and covert action operations in the field.

Prior to joining CIA, he was a US Army Armor and JAG officer who later served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Washington.