Thanks to Declan at Connotea for the link to a story in the International Herald Tribune. Admiral William Fallon, commander of military forces in the Pacific and Indian oceans, is making conciliatory noises toward China—and specifically mentioning avian flu:
Fallon said that he wanted the United States and Chinese militaries to start discussing avian influenza as well. The American military has been concerned about the possible effect on soldiers if avian influenza, now found mainly in birds, were to start spreading quickly among people.
"This is something that's not going to know any borders, it's not going to be easily contained within one nation," he said.
Since Fallon is in effect American proconsul over a huge region of the globe, his comments deserve attention. But I'm not sure just how to interpret them. He's signalling that he (and by implication the US armed forces) are aware of the problem. He can see the danger to Chinese social stability if avian flu breaks out and impairs the effectiveness of the People's Liberation Army. And he can certainly imagine the impairment to his own forces.
But is he also signalling the Bush administration to wake up and do some serious planning?