Daniel W. Drezner

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

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?