THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC now ravaging the United States should lead every American to a series of important questions: What are the real threats that I face? What has my government been prioritizing in terms of my — and the nation’s — security? And where has all my tax money been going?
Considering these questions, it’s hard not to conclude that the American government’s national security priorities have been so askew of reality that they left the country dramatically unprepared for an acute threat to millions of its people.
The government’s focus has been overwhelmingly on the threat of extremist groups and unfriendly regimes abroad, mostly in the Middle East. Over a period of two decades, the United States spent trillions of dollars waging wars and occupations across the region. These confrontations have won America an ever-growing list of enemies around the world. They are still making life miserable for millions in the Middle East. But their impact on the United States itself is now also being painfully revealed: a country that has spent trillions on foreign wars but is unable to defend its citizens from basic threats like disease and economic collapse.
The last few weeks have revealed a spectacle of a federal government apparently incapable of doing what is required to stop the spread of a pandemic on American soil. Not only has testing capacity lagged far behind much smaller and less wealthy countries like Taiwan and South Korea, but shortages of critical health infrastructure will likely mean the excess deaths of potentially hundreds of thousands of Americans in the foreseeable future. Governors of large states have been publicly begging the federal government for ventilators, masks, and other basic tools to deal with the outbreak. There is little sign that the capacity even exists at present to respond to these requests. read more…