As I tell Mark Helprin at the beginning of this Q&A, I started thinking about pandemics a few months ago. Mark has been thinking about them for a long time. He has prepared for them personally and warned the nation that it should prepare for them too.
Here is a piece he wrote in 2006. “We face a danger that approaches steadily from the far distance like a tsunami in slow motion. It will almost certainly strike in one form or another, it could strike tomorrow . . .”
Helprin, as you know, is the novelist, short-story writer, essayist, national-security expert, etc. He has a piece in the current issue of National Review titled “American Foreign and Defense Policy: Between Scylla and Charybdis.” He begins with the pandemic now upon us. And that’s the subject we devote our entire Q&A to.
He talks about various aspects of the plague, including the political. Everything in our lives gets politicized. Left and Right square off. We attend to our dunkin’, ownin’, and tear-drinkin’. But a plague is a lousy thing to politicize, says Helprin. And President Trump stands at the heart of it all.
Mark is very blunt in this Q&A, as is his habit. This is not an episode for snowflakes. But it is a valuable one — informed, mature, and bracing — and I intend to listen to it again myself. That link, once more, is here.