October 14, 2014
Burrows on Ebola Threat
Some projections are now putting Ebola’s death toll at 20 percent in the three most affected West African nations, according Mathew Burrows, an author of the 2013 intelligence agency report.
“Multiply by 20 what was said about the 1 percent,” said Burrows, director of the Strategic Foresight Initiative at the Atlantic Council, a Washington policy group. “That’s absolutely devastating economically, also politically, and these countries are fragile to begin with.”
“It’s going to be staggering to cope with the deaths,” Burrows said, “but over the longer run, you could see complete breakdown in the state, certainly fragmentation, and possibly conflict.”
The way countries respond will be key to avoiding instability and fragmentation, he said. “If authorities are not seen as helping, if they’re seen as helping themselves and you have a breakdown in trust, then there’s real loss of credibility,” he said.
Those conditions are ripe for areas to break away from central state control, leaving them more vulnerable or open to insurgents or militants. “That creates the safe havens more than anything else,” Burrows said.