Facing the Ebola of Their Time: Montezuma, Napoleon, Justinian, and Pericles

In a recent interview, I was asked what was the worst case Ebola scenario I could imagine. Here's what I didn't say: Ebola becoming airborne or Ebola spreading in the US.

What did I say? I said that if Liberia and Sierra Leone are unable to control Ebola they might face the collapse of their states, creating a dead zone ripe for organized criminals, terrorist organizations, slavery, and other unsavory practices to take hold. 

I don't believe this will happen given that the pace of control measures is rapidly accelerating. However, contemplation of this scenario concretizes just how a natural infectious disease epidemic might intersect with national security--a fascinating topic. 

Infectious diseases, in certain contexts, have the power to collapse societies--just ask Montezuma (smallpox) or Napoleon (typhus), or Justinian (plague), or Pericles (the Athenian "plague").