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Published by the Council on Foreign Relations
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STEPHEN E. FLYNN is Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation (Random House, 2007), from which this essay is drawn.
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When it comes to managing the hazards of the twenty-first century, it is reckless to relegate the American public to the sidelines. During the Cold War, the threat of nuclear weapons placed the fate of millions in the hands of a few. But responding to today's challenges, the threats of terrorism and natural disasters, requires the broad engagement of civil society. The terrorists' chosen battlegrounds are likely to be occupied by civilians, not soldiers. And more than the loss of innocent lives is at stake: a climate of fear and a sense of powerlessness in the face of adversity are undermining faith in American ideals and fueling political demagoguery. Sustaining the United States' global leadership and economic competitiveness ultimately depends on bolstering the resilience of its society. Periodically, things will go badly wrong. The United States must be prepared to minimize the consequences of those eventualities and bounce back quickly.

Resilience has historically been one of the United States' great national strengths. It was the quality that helped tame a raw continent and then allowed the country to cope with the extraordinary challenges that occasionally placed the American experiment in peril. From the early settlements in Virginia and Massachusetts to the westward expansion, Americans willingly ventured into the wild to build better lives. During the epic struggles of the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the two world wars; occasional economic downturns and the Great Depression; and the periodic scourges of earthquakes, epidemics, floods, and hurricanes, Americans have drawn strength from adversity. Each generation bequeathed to the next a sense of confidence and optimism about the future.

But this reservoir of self-sufficiency is being depleted. The United States is becoming a brittle nation. An increasingly urbanized and suburbanized population has embraced just-in-time lifestyles tethered to ATM machines and 24-hour stores that provide instant access to cash, food, and gas. When the power goes out and these modern conveniences fail, Americans are incapacitated. Meanwhile, two decades of taxpayer rebellion have stripped

The podcaster and 'public intellectual' sits down to discuss identity politics' stranglehold on modern political discourse,intellectual honestyand landing a debate at the O2 arena scheduled between Justin Timberlake and Iron Maiden.

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Sam Harris interview: You pay a price for discussing taboo topics, but it's important to

Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, best-selling author,philosopher and host of the podcast Waking Up . He describes his job as ‘someone who thinks in public’ and has established a reputation as one of the leading lights in both New Atheism and secular spirituality. We sat down ahead of the biggest live event of his career – his upcoming show at the O2 Arena with psychology professor Jordan Peterson and Centre for Social Cohesion founder Douglas Murray – to talk intellectual honesty, the crisis of meaning, and how public intellectualism became the new rock and roll.

What is the background to this event with Peterson and Murray and what are you hoping will come from the conversation?

[Peterson and I] had two podcast interviews, and they were painful to one or another degree. We disagreed about some fundamental things and found it difficult to converge and I am expecting that Douglas’ presence on the stage will make for a far more fruitful conversation because I think Douglas and I go way back and agree about many things but disagree about some others, and I think there will be a very interesting synergy between the two of us and Jordan. So I think for instance Jordan and Douglas are both far more concerned about the importance of maintaining quote “Judeo-Christian values” and think it’s the historical and religious underpinnings of our civilisation that are somehow put in peril by secularism and multiculturalism and other modern trends. And I have some of the same concerns about values and politics that they do but I have, as I think you know, very little concern that jettisoning Christianity and Judaism will undermine our values. So I don’t think our values are anchored to religion in the way that they seem to. But I think that will be an interesting conversation to have. But more generally we share this common experience of touching taboo topics and paying a price for it in the mainstream media and yet these topics are no less important to touch, topics like religion and differences between cultures, the West vs the Rest, race, intelligence, wealth, power, terrorism. These are all topics which when you talk about them, unless your speech is passed through the filter of political correctness, you get a lot of pushback. And I think the time for political correctness is over. So as much as we may disagree, we are of like mind about that, and I think that’s what people are eager to hear more of.

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The event is being billed as 'the Woodstock of live speaking and debate', but based on your previous conversations it doesn’t seem like there’s much and peace and love between the two of you…

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