Decision: As the 2020 elections approach, the American people must demand a bipartisan commitment from all candidates for public office to devise and execute a viable strategy to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and defend against future pandemics. This strategy should include:
- Development of a robust U.S. response to the Chinese government’s criminal negligence for the release and global spread of the virus, and for Beijing’s continuing refusal to fully cooperate in defeating the deadly plague that it unleashed. The U.S. response must include sanctions, rethinking China’s role in the international community, and ending America’s dependence on China for critical imports, including medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.
- Recognize that U.S. and international defenses against natural and man-made pandemics are inadequate, and demand aggressive steps to improve biodefense at the local, state, federal, and international levels.
Reason: While the Trump Administration has vigorously criticized the Chinese government’s negligence in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a bipartisan response is needed to identify and correct flaws in U.S. biodefense, and hold the Chinese regime morally and financially accountable.
Background: The Center for Security Policy explains the issues in its groundbreaking new book, Defending Against Biothreats: What We Can Learn from the Coronavirus Pandemic to Enhance U.S. Defenses Against Pandemics and Biological Weapons.
Because the pandemic has inflicted such a significant loss of life and trillions of dollars’ worth of damage to the American economy, the Executive Branch and Congress must do much more to hold China fully accountable for the spread of the virus, and to take steps to protect the public against future biothreats.
President Trump and administration have been outspoken against the Chinese government’s criminal negligence in its handling of the coronavirus outbreak and pandemic. Evidence mounted that Chinese leaders took steps they knew, or ought to have known, would lead to the spread of the disease beyond their borders.
The administration’s criticism of Beijing strengthened as that evidence increased, and a pattern emerged showing that Chinese regime disinformation and propaganda about the pandemic was part of an integrated strategy to undermine American political and cultural institutions; subvert the nation’s political, economic, and educational systems; spy on the nation’s innovations and steal them for the profit of the Chinese Communist Party; and compromise the integrity of America’s financial institutions.
The Chinese regime’s handling of the pandemic cannot be viewed in isolation from its aggressive hostility toward the U.S. on every other front.
The Trump administration increased pressure on Beijing on July 16, when Attorney General William Barr gave a speech warning that “the Chinese Communist Party has launched an orchestrated campaign, across all of its many tentacles in Chinese government and society, to exploit the openness of our institutions in order to destroy them.”
Speaking for the entire administration, Barr threatened new U.S. sanctions against Chinese leaders for their mishandling of the coronavirus, their crackdown in Hong Kong, and for conducting an “economic blitzkrieg” aimed at dominating the global economy and replacing the U.S. as the world’s top superpower.
Congressional Republicans have harshly criticized Chinese leaders over their handling of the virus. Even though both houses of Congress passed unanimous resolutions critical of the Chinese regime’s subjugation of Hong Kong, congressional Democrats and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden have given the Chinese regime a free pass for its culpability for the pandemic.
Instead, they are using the virus as a political weapon to defeat President Trump this fall by solely blaming his administration for its spread in the United States.
This fulfillment of a major Chinese government propaganda objective included a decision by House Democrats to refuse to participate in a China task force started by House Republican members in May 2020 to address the full range of China threats to the U.S., including the Chinese government’s role in the origin and spread of the coronavirus.
At the same time, almost nobody among Congressional Republicans and Democrats and the Trump administration has alerted the public about how America’s enemies – including terrorist groups – have learned from the pandemic, increasing the risk of future bioweapon attacks against the United States.
Nor have leaders of either party proposed efforts to overhaul flaccid and feckless U.S. and international institutions intended to protect against biothreats. Defending Against Biothreats includes a detailed analysis of these issues by several leading experts.
As we approach a critical election this November, American voters must demand elected officials and candidates at all levels for a bipartisan strategy, followed by real action, to address the full range of implications of the coronavirus pandemic and prevent it from happening again.
- Congressional Democrats should agree to legitimate investigations of the pandemic, together with Republicans, that are not more partisan exercises to attack the Trump administration. These investigations must serve the national interest. They must quickly produce legislation aimed at improving America’s ability to prevent, prepare for, and respond to a pandemic. Voters should hold Members of Congress accountable who refuse to participate in productive bipartisan panels on the pandemic, and who fail to unite the country to lay total blame on the Chinese regime for the destruction it has caused.
- The Trump administration should not wait for Congress to investigate the pandemic. President Trump should immediately name a functional blue-ribbon commission to investigate the mishandling of the virus by China and the World Health Organization (WHO), and on meaningful ways to improve U.S. biodefense without expanding the intrusive powers of government on ordinary citizens. This commission should produce preliminary findings by late October before the election. Congressional Democratic leaders should be invited to name serious members to this panel.
- President Trump – and whoever wins the 2020 presidential election – must implement an aggressive effort at the federal, state and local levels to work together with private industry and academia to implement robust U.S. biodefenses. This must include:
- expanding stockpiles of medical supplies and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and ending America’s reliance on medical supplies from China;
- creating a strong biodefense enterprise within the U.S. health system, and expanding the relevant science and technology base, without further centralizing the overwhelmed health system;
- improving U.S monitoring, intelligence, and counterintelligence on foreign and domestic biothreats, and developing better U.S. leadership and decision-making with regard to biothreats;
- establishing tactics, techniques and procedures for the U.S. military to prevent human-to-human transmission of dangerous pathogens among military personnel, on military bases, and aboard military ships and aircraft, and maintain readiness during a pandemic;
- improving security and protections for dangerous bioresearch in both U.S. and foreign biolabs;
- assisting state and local governments to become empowered to handle biothreats on their own, as their own individual circumstances may require.
- The U.S. must press for strong and enduring international efforts to hold China accountable for the coronavirus pandemic and to improve global biodefenses. This should include working with U.S. allies to resist Chinese retaliation against criticism of its handling of the virus and establishing new multilateral biodefense efforts outside of the WHO that Beijing cannot be manipulate. The U.S. also should work with the international community to insist that Chinese biolabs researching dangerous pathogens be subject to regular objective international expert inspection and fully comply with international biosecurity standards.
Bottom line: The coronavirus pandemic is a continuing national crisis with no end in sight. Its is crucial that each American citizen respond to this crisis by voting for candidates who support aggressive and bipartisan action to hold China accountable for this crisis and to improve the nation’s biodefenses. Voters must recognize the seriousness and huge scope of this national security threat and hold candidates accountable politicize it and who refuse to support genuine bipartisan efforts to protect the country.