The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world in drastic ways, but it also presents us an opportunity to change the way we think about the future.

Please join an Intelligence Project discussion with Belfer Senior Fellows Rolf Mowatt-Larssen and David Ignatius on the state of the world today, how we got here, and how we should be thinking about what comes next.

Intelligence and journalism professionals are tasked with sounding the alarm on potential threats, and Rolf and David have each spent their careers thinking about the next big event or strategic surprise. Rolf countered the KGB in the Cold War, and brokered new relations with its successors after collapse of the Soviet Union. After 9/11, he was charged with keeping biological, chemical, and nuclear WMD out of the hands of terrorists, first at the CIA and then as Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the Department of Energy. For 40 years, David Ignatius has been one of the foremost thinkers in the journalist community covering geopolitical affairs and intelligence, always looking at what lies ahead.

In this session, Rolf and David will discuss why societal-changing events such as 9/11, the 2008 Financial Crisis, the Arab Spring, and now COVID-19, continue to catch us by surprise. They’ll examine how we missed COVID, what it means for how we think about and prepare for future threats, and will address questions such as:

  • How must national security policy adapt to better anticipate and prepare for the next big event?
  • How do we avoid the mistakes of the post-9/11 surveillance state and combat COVID-19 without compromising civil liberties?
  • Now that the world has seen the societal impact of such an event, are we more at risk of an intentional biological WMD attack? And is the USIC currently prepared to detect and prevent such an attack?

While many are searching for answers during this crisis, we can count on David and Rolf to pose the questions which will be most important in preparing for a post-COVID world.