This article appeared on December 14, 2020 in Brandon J. Weichert’s op-ed column at The Washington Times.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has caused the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, resulted in massive political disruptions in the United States, and it has killed almost 300,000 Americans (and counting).
American society today has been fundamentally changed by the pandemic. Freedoms have been lost. Fear now governs the land. Uncertainty about the future dominates the public discourse.
And all of this was caused by the Chinese Communist Party.
Yet, few American leaders, experts or media figures will clearly state this fact. The “mainstream” media, possessed of “Never Trump” mania, has gleefully reported every single death from the illness, each waking minute since the crisis began earlier this year. Rarely — purposely — is context ever given to the audience about these figures, though.
Meanwhile, the right-wing, “alternative” media in the United States, has vacillated from attacking the lockdown and social distancing measures to completely ignoring the disease. Since the summer, for example, these outlets have fixated more on the censorship of conservative activists by social media companies rather than the actual problem: that China covered up a virulent disease and allowed for that illness to spread globally.
The Chinese government learned of the novel coronavirus far earlier than it admitted. A recent Red Cross study of blood samples taken from the fall of 2019 indicated that at least two percent of those samples had the COVID-19 antibodies in them — a date much earlier than when Beijing admits to discovering the disease.
We know also that Chinese authorities were aware of the illness by at least December 2019. That was when Dr. Li Wenliang of Wuhan, China tried warning his colleagues about the presence of a strange new respiratory illness afflicting his patients. For his troubles, Dr. Li was accosted and harassed by Chinese domestic security services.
Dr. Li was harangued by Chinese authorities — until he was ultimately killed by the disease in February — specifically because his warnings risked revealing that China’s leaders were covering up the existence of the illness. Despite knowing about the disease, the CCP still permitted foreign travel to occur to and from China.
China’s leaders were willingly infecting the world.
Disparate reports came out this year suggesting that China’s embattled regime, when faced with the prospect of being at the epicenter of a major epidemic, allowed for the disease to spread beyond their borders so as to even the global playing field. Beijing rightly understood that if they contained the disease too early, then the disease would only harm China, and give other countries — notably the United States — a significant advantage.
That’s malign intent on the part of China’s leadership.
Because so few American leaders or the media have been willing to clearly state this fact, the United States appears blinkered in the face of China’s growing threat. By ignoring the facts and refusing to come to painful conclusions based on those facts, the United States is suffering.
Washington is effectively giving a free pass to China while Beijing moves boldly at diminishing American power abroad. In fact, China has presented itself as America’s greatest enemy today. Since few American leaders have explicitly stated this, most Americans have instead turned on each other rather than the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The COVID-19 outbreak, as one Marine Corps intelligence officer quipped to me, was akin to a “biological Pearl Harbor” for the United States.
Sadly, unlike in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Americans today are more divided and confused than they were before the “biological Pearl Harbor” occurred. Events like Pearl Harbor can either strengthen or loosen the bonds of a nation. The “biological Pearl Harbor” seems merely to have exacerbated America’s weaknesses, leading to our potential breakup. On the other hand, China appears stronger.
The greatest threat faced by the United States is not whether President Donald Trump leaves office on Inauguration Day or if President-elect Joe Biden cheated in the election. Our greatest threat is that for the first time in American history the United States not only refused to strike back against an attacker … but most American leaders have denied that the country was even attacked to begin with.
Now America’s enemies know how to hurt America. COVID-19 has taught those enemies how unwilling the United States is to respond to a Pearl Harbor-type event — especially if that attack is done with unconventional tactics. Americans should expect more strategic surprises — like sudden attacks against America’s satellite constellations or cyberattacks on the national power grid — soon.
After all, weakness is provocative, and strength deters.
• Brandon J. Weichert is the author of “Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower” (Republic Book Publishers). He can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.