The coronavirus pandemic has exposed dangerous weaknesses in U.S. planning and preparation for civil defense protection and recovery, and those weaknesses surely have been noticed by our potential enemies: China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and international terrorists.
The U.S. spent decades, and billions of dollars, supposedly preparing for biological warfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the departments of Defense and Homeland Security are supposed to have contingency plans to protect the American people from lethal biological weapons such as anthrax and genetically engineered smallpox, which could have mortality rates of over 90 percent.
But our defenders have not even been able to competently cope with COVID-19, which has a mortality rate under 1 percent. The White House took over management of the pandemic, apparently to compensate for the failure of the U.S. government to have adequately stockpiled such basics as ventilators, masks and pharmaceuticals.
Hostile foreign powers surely have noticed the panicked, incompetent U.S. response to the virus that shut down a prosperous U.S. economy, self-inflicting the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The nationwide lockdowns brought shortages of all kinds, exposing societal and critical infrastructure fragility — and causing widespread fear.
Adversaries also have noticed the ongoing U.S. “cold civil war.” According to federal authorities, radicalized young people on both sides of the political divide and criminals have been infiltrating recent protests — rioting, toppling statues and setting fires. The swelling counter-culture anarchy and self-condemnation is reminiscent of 1968, a year of riots and anti-war protests in America that is recognized by most historians as the psychological turning point toward U.S. defeat in the Vietnam War.
North Korea applauds America’s domestic chaos as proof that democracy does not work and the future belongs to totalitarian states such as China. America looks fragile to dictators who would replace the U.S.-led world order with a new one dominated by themselves. China, for example, has been planning to defeat the U.S. with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and cyber “Pearl Harbor” attack for a quarter-century. As I warned the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism,