Global Health as a Bridge to Security

Interviews with U.S. Leaders

Our understanding of global health and its relationship to national security, the safety of our citizens, and the well-being of the wider global community has grown and evolved over time. It is now widely accepted that nations with healthy populations are more likely to be productive, prosperous, and peaceful. This matters to the United States because peaceful nations generally make good neighbors. Conversely, poor health indicators are usually a sign that something is not right in a society. Nations with high numbers of unhealthy citizens are more likely to be poor, badly governed, weak, and prone to instability or even conflict. One need only take a sample of countries that fall into this category—Somalia, Afghanistan, North Korea—to understand the potential threat they pose to the United States.

For these reasons, health and security are no longer separate domains for policymakers. They interact with each other. Military leaders who once viewed the world through a narrow security lens have become accustomed to building health plans and programs into their decisionmaking. Health professionals appreciate that their engagement can help enhance the security as well as the well-being of the communities with whom they interact.

The men and women who have grappled with health and security issues in their professional lives have built up a considerable body of experience in this field. But to date, there has not been a consistent effort to document their activities, analyze their policies, and draw lessons from their experiences. This report from the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS is meant to do just that. It explores the nexus between health and security by collecting the personal stories of a selection of our nation’s leading military and global health professionals. In a series of interviews, these leaders were asked to consider the moments in their career when health and security-related considerations came together or collided with each other. How did they reach their decisions? What was the outcome? What did they learn from their experiences? The interviews form the basis of each of the narratives in this volume. Each individual approached the subject in his or her own unique way, but despite their varied experiences and backgrounds—whether in the military, diplomatic, or medical fields—a number of common themes and messages emerged, which will be of interest to all working in the health and security fields.

Interviewees: Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, Ambassador Cameron R. Hume, Rear Admiral Thomas R. Cullison, Ambassador John E. Lange, Ellen Embrey, Ambassador Donald Steinberg, General Peter Pace, Ambassador Jendayi E. Frazer, General James E. Cartwright, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Dr. S. Ward Casscells, Admiral William J. Fallon, Dr. Connie Mariano

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Richard Downie