The last few weeks have been horrific for Americans as the country has become enmeshed in the deadly coronavirus epidemic.
The Washington Post on Saturday ran a major investigative piece blaming the Trump administration for gross negligence in failing to confront the threat after being warned two months before about the virus’ potentially devastating effects.
On Jan. 3, Robert Redfield, the director for the Centers for Disease Control [CDC] received a call from a counterpart in China telling him about a mysterious respiratory illness that was spreading in Wuhan, a congested commercial city of 11 million people.
Within days, U.S. spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat to President Trump by including a warning about the coronavirus in the president’s daily brief.
And yet, as the Post points out, it took 70 days for President Trump to react and to order unprecedented emergency measures that included the closing of the borders and shutdown of most of the economy.
Those 70 days were a critical time that was squandered. Time and money could have been used to develop a diagnostic test, to institute quarantine and other precautionary measures, and to order the necessary medical equipment.
The failings of the U.S. government, it should be emphasized, are not President Trump’s and his circle’s alone.
Throughout much of the winter, Trump was preoccupied with defending himself in the impeachment hearings that had been set up by the Democratic Party to remove Trump from office for his alleged attempts to blackmail the Ukrainian government.
The Democrats claimed that President Trump had compromised American national security and made Americans more vulnerable to the Russian threat by allegedly withholding military aid to Russia’s adversary Ukraine.
This had been done in order to force Ukraine’s president Vlodomyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden, who allegedly had tried to manipulate Ukraine’s judicial system in order to advance the business interests of his son.
The main inquisitor at the hearings, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, warned over and over again about the Russian threat to American national security, even asserting at one point, based on what a witness had said, that Russia could end up invading the United States, if we don’t fight them in Ukraine.
However, the real threat was from a disease, which the Russians have tried to help us combat – witness their shipment of medical supplies this past week.
The COVID-19 pandemic ultimately should teach us about the need to change our approach to national security.
Our leaders have for years tried to condition us to believe that the greatest threat comes from Russia and China or other geopolitical adversaries like Iran.
The real threat we see, however, comes from microbes in the air along with the looming threat of climate change, which will require cooperation rather than confrontation with other world powers, regardless of whether we agree entirely with their political-economic structure.