The authors' premise hinges on our two major political parties seeking answers on how such a shocking event could possibly have happened after the 9/11 attacks. The so-called 9/11 Commission was therefore set up with the approval of the Bush administration to compile what is known about the attacks, draw appropriate, informed conclusions, and make specific policy recommendations to prevent the possibility of future terrorist attacks. Haseltine and Allen recommend creating a similar commission to investigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, the authors acknowledge that “(t) the nation's response to these two threats – one a tangible and immediate terrorist attack; The other virus that crossed our borders unseen was very different. "
Her article in The Atlantic offers her recommendations.
(Biden )’s newly announced COVID-19 Task Force will rightly focus on helping the United States find a way out of our current quagmire. But the country also needs a separate, bipartisan investigation that points to long-term structural solutions that would prevent future illness from causing the levels of death, heartache and economic disruption that the coronavirus has caused. If nothing else can be agreed on by the new Democratic president and Republicans in Congress, they can certainly agree on the need to learn from America's current plight.
Unfortunately, it is the last sentence in this paragraph that is fatal to the entire premise of Haseltine and Allen. Regardless of the mistakes, casual mistakes, or deliberate misjudgments that marked the Bush administration's failure to anticipate or stop the 9/11 attacks – and there were many such mistakes – none of them resemble or are even willful misconduct the behavior of the Trump administration and its allies in the Republican Party in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic was roughly comparable.
Using the 9/11 analogy, these authors seem to assume that structural flaws within the US government itself – such as "lack of coordination between government agencies" – are responsible for our current situation … where hospitals and hospital staff are now operating overwhelmed by the influx of COVID-19 infected patients. In support of their position that a similar response is now warranted, they refer to a proposal that MP Adam Schiff last April, tentatively titled "The National Commission for the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States Act. "
Hazeltine and Allen As an aside, note that the commission proposed by Schiff is very similar to the 9/11 commission, with the exception that theThe nomination process for the new body would be more openly partisan. “They warn that this aspect of Schiff's commission should be changed because“ (f) or a COVID-19 commission to be successful needs both-party support from the start; Your goal must be to move beyond guilt and seek long-term solutions to America's susceptibility to disease. "
During this pandemic, politics has been a barrier to public health initiatives. To be accurate about what led us to our situation today – where the US ranks among the top ten worst countries in the world for deaths per capita and infections per capita – requires an honest assessment of our failures, our policies and our party aside .
Haseltine and Allen then list a litany of measures such a “bipartisan” commission could take, such as questioning officials at the National Military Center for Military Medical Intelligence (who discovered and reported the existence of the virus in November 2019) to determine well what was known to the CDC, the national security advisor, and other federal, state and local officials at the start of the pandemic. In summary, "(t) the COVID-19 Commission should analyze errors in resource allocation, possible lack of oversight by the White House and Congress, and the inability of the federal government to use its full weight to fight the disease."
The poll was intended to bypass the politics of the moment – as the members of the 9/11 Commission attempted – and instead focus firmly on what the nation could have done better. As with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the coronavirus pandemic is not the result of a single misstep.
It is true that think tankers are paid to "think" and pursue proposals based on such "thinking". However, it helps if the things they suggest have some foundation in reality. Regarding this nation's disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the question arises, "What could the nation have done better?" simply cannot be separated from "the politics of the moment". Indeed, this nation's failure to contain, control, and reverse the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not due to structural barriers or a failure of readiness in that country. This was due to a deliberate political strategy by the Trump administration to mislead the American public about the likely severity of the pandemic and to deliberately impede the existing infrastructure that could have hampered the spread of the virus.
Yes, these decisions were based solely on political considerations, particularly the overarching imperative of Donald Trump's re-election prospects. These decisions were also wholeheartedly supported by the vast majority of elected Republican officials both within the administration itself and in the convention halls. The fear was that the economic consequences of compulsory lockdowns and business closings would ruin Trump's re-election opportunities, and thus the fate of those who supported him. Accordingly, medical experts and scientists have been deliberately excluded, ignored, or worse, demoted or scourged from the administration. The entire federal response has been essentially abandoned to force the financially troubled and inexperienced state governments to shoulder the burden and oblige them to compete with one another to obtain adequate protective gear.
Meanwhile, the same state efforts have been deliberately undermined by government political messages that deride or otherwise deny the effectiveness of social distancing measures, angered state governments for imposing business closings, and the entire public health and safety issue personal "freedom" and convenience. False statements about the spread and virulence of the pandemic were repeatedly made direct by the government and then reinforced by right-wing media and Republican governors and local lawmakers until large numbers of the public simply refused to believe that the pandemic was deadly serious business. Economic aid to states and individuals timed out with the November elections, and as we see now, the federal response after the elections was essentially non-existent.
The politicization of the pandemic by Trump and Republican officials is the only reason we are now facing the deadliest winter in our nation's history. This has nothing to do with our country's infrastructure, the lack of resources to fight the pandemic or, as the authors suspect, with a communication error between existing authorities. These are all factors that could have been easily and quickly addressed at the onset of the pandemic, had the political will to do so and, in particular, pressure from the Republican Party been exerted. That no such effort has been made is not even a valid criticism of our existing public health infrastructure, as it ignores what was evident from the start: the consequences of this pandemic are the result of a conscious political choice by the Republican Party to support it Donald Trump, even if it meant more Americans were dying.
The authors have many good suggestions, such as coordinating the efforts of the DHS and the director of the National Intelligence Service, setting up a body on par with the National Security Council but devoted to disease prevention, and even creating a cabinet position developing a " Pandemic Preparation Program ”. All of these ideas are useful, but you don't need a commission to foresee the need. This government had almost a year to take such action. Instead, for political reasons, she chose not to do anything. Even today, as the pandemic enters its deadliest stage, there is no sign that Republicans are viewing the pandemic as a serious matter worthy of institutional reform. On the contrary, they continue to view it as political football, not a public health emergency.
The final result? No investigation into why this tragedy occurred can potentially “circumvent” the reality that it is the result of a deliberate political calculation by the outgoing President, made with the consent and complicity of the Republican Party. No bipartisan “9/11 Commission” will ever be able to sweep this fundamental fact under the carpet.