Stephen Flynn
The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation
Sun Aug 5, 2007 20:03


The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation (Hardcover)
by Stephen Flynn (Author)

Stephen Flynn on CNN INVESTIGATES 8/5/07

Editorial Reviews
From Booklist
Homeland Security expert Flynn examines the vulnerability of the U.S. to disaster--natural and man-made--and what the nation must do to fortify its security. By exploring several well-documented and frightening scenarios, Flynn exposes our weaknesses and the consequences of our failure to adequately plan for disaster. Among the scenarios he explores: an avian flu outbreak in New York; destruction of a chemical plant in New Jersey; a San Francisco earthquake that compromises levees and leads to massive flooding. Flynn points to threats from our blithe disregard for the dangers all around us, including chemical plants and oil refineries operating in close proximity to crowded communities. We can't plan for every disaster, but the nation can be better prepared, Flynn maintains, and he offers advice on how corporations and the government can reduce the risk of disaster. Among his suggestions: making sure energy management and public-health systems have enough resources and building more power-transmission lines to keep lights on when temperatures rise. Flynn's book reads like a thriller but has the added punch of reality. Vanessa Bush
Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved

Book Description
Why do we remain unprepared for the next terrorist attack or natural disaster?
Where are we most vulnerable?
How have we allowed our government to be so negligent?
Who will keep you and your family safe?
Is America living on borrowed time?
How can we become a more resilient nation?

Americans are in denial when it comes to facing up to how vulnerable our nation is to disaster, be it terrorist attack or act of God. We have learned little from the cataclysms of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina. When it comes to catastrophe, America is living on borrowed time–and squandering it. In this new book, leading security expert Stephen Flynn issues a call to action, demanding that we wake up and prepare immediately for a safer future.

The truth is acts of terror cannot always be prevented, and nature continues to show its fury in frighteningly unpredictable ways. Resiliency, argues Flynn, must now become our national motto. With chilling frankness and clarity, Flynn paints an all too real scenario of the threats we face within our own borders. A terrorist attack on a tanker carrying liquefied natural gas into Boston Harbor could kill thousands and leave millions more of New Englanders without power or heat. The destruction of a ship with a cargo of oil in Long Beach, California, could bring the West Coast economy to its knees and endanger the surrounding population. But even these all-too-plausible terrorist scenarios pale in comparison to the potential destruction wrought by a major earthquake or hurricane.

Our growing exposure to man-made and natural perils is largely rooted in our own negligence, as we take for granted the infrastructure handed down to us by earlier generations. Once the envy of the world, this infrastructure is now crumbling. After decades of neglect, our public health system leaves us at the mercy of microbes that could kill millions in the next flu pandemic. Flash flooding could wipe out a fifty-year-old dam north of Phoenix, placing thousands of homes and lives at risk. The next San Francisco earthquake could destroy century-old levees, contaminating the freshwater supply that most of California relies on for survival.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Edge of Disaster tells us what we can do about it, as individuals and as a society. We can–and, Flynn argues, we must–construct a more resilient nation. With the wounds of recent national tragedies still unhealed, the time to act is now.

Flynn argues that by tackling head-on, eyes open the perils that lie before us, we can remain true to our most important and endearing national trait: our sense of optimism about the future and our conviction that we can change it for the better for ourselves–and our children.

“Steve Flynn offers the answer not only to protecting America from terrorist attacks and natural disaster but also to revitalizing our democracy. This book is a must-read for all members of Congress, 2008 presidential candidates, and ordinary citizens who want to build a better and safer future.”
–Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

Advance praise for The Edge of Disaster

“Steve Flynn has done it again. Like America the Vulnerable before it, The Edge of Disaster is the must-read book for every American, elected official, and presidential candidate who is committed to ensuring that our nation continue to thrive in perilous times.”
–Mark Warner, former governor of Virginia

“Since 9/11, protecting our nation against a terrorist attack has consumed policy makers in Washington. What Stephen Flynn points out in The Edge of Disaster is that much of this effort has been directed overseas, often at the expense of our homeland and its much more likely areas of vulnerability. Laying out a series of potential disasters both manmade and natural, Flynn calls for a greater emphasis on preparedness and the ability of communities and the nation to recover. Painting an often frustrating and infuriating picture of missed opportunities, The Edge of Disaster is a call to action. The time to act is now. We can only hope that policy makers are listening.”
–Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and
former administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (2001-03)

“Steve Flynn’s book makes the very persuasive argument that national security preparedness is linked to natural disaster preparedness. By investing significantly in our critical infrastructure, in citizen preparedness, and most importantly in leadership, we can be better prepared for all hazards. A great book that I highly recommend.”
–James Lee Witt, former director, Federal Emergency Management Agency

“Steve Flynn has become a relentless contributor to the dialogue on prioritizing the work of the post-9/11 security environment. The Edge of Disaster calls into question the neglect of domestic preparedness in favor of the Department of Defense-driven offensive in the global war on terrorism. The book offers provocative challenges to both our elected and our private-sector leaders, and both should read it thoroughly.”
–Admiral James M. Loy, former commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, and former deputy secretary of homeland security

See all Editorial Reviews


CNN - The Edge of Disaster Theology as a Process
CNN - The Edge of Disaster. May 6th, 2007 No Comments. It’s 06hs30 in Princeton. I turn on CNN to tap into some daily news … ...

CFR Bio: Stephen E. Flynn
Listen to Stephen Flynn, the Council's Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies, discuss his new book, The Edge of Disaster: ..

STEPHEN FLYNN: I just want to make it clear what we're talking about here is the terminal operators are basically acquiring a lease to load and off-load cargo and to move it around the yards and make it available for trains and trucks that come in and out of the port.

It's a fairly straightforward proposition we've got going here much like British Airways wants to have its own terminal in an airport so that it knows there's a gate for it when its planes show up. Most of our container ships are foreign flags vessels, and ships don't make money unless they're at sea, and so they want to turn their sails around as quickly as possible.

So they want to be able to manage the cargo movement operations and by leasing real estate on both sides or all the ports that they may visit at if they can, and so the terminal operator is basically the person who does the coordination for that.

The people are actually in the port picking up the containers, working the cranes, moving the carts around and so forth. These are all longshoremen, and they're American citizens, and they don't change no matter who is in charge - who is the owner of the lease in the port.

Responsibility for security

MARGARET WARNER: So what you're saying is the port operator's employees do have proximity to these containers but what, but they're the same, whoever is actually the terminal or port operator?

STEPHEN FLYNN: Basically the terminal operator often has an office that looks like an industrial park kind of office that you might imagine inside the port, and they're doing a lot of the paper shuffling and call making and other kinds of things to facilitate -- It's an incredibly complex activity of moving containers from all over the world and getting them to the customers that ultimately end up in our shelves or in our manufacturing plants. Now virtually all those folks are Americans as well.

Typically if it's a foreign-owned company who leases this terminal, there will be a few senior managers who report from the home office but they're not having any contact physically with the box. That is done by only the longshoremen. So on the West Coast, those are members of the ILWU, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. On the East Coast it's the International Longshore Association. These are pretty red-blooded Americans who get these jobs; they're in the cranes, they're driving the carts and basically anything that happens in that terminal is in the union's hands largely.

MARGARET WARNER: So Mr. Dinsmore, say at the Seattle harbor or port that you oversee, let's say containers are off-loaded off a ship but they're -- the trucks aren't there yet to take them off to wherever, Wal-Mart or wherever. Who stores them, and who's responsible for the security of the storage of those containers?

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