When organizations face crisis, most go into survival mode of containment, spin, lying, and cover up. Few seem to learn from past failed attempts and instinctively fall into this trap at the first indication of a problem. The Trump administration is no exception following the examples set by Nixon and Watergate, Reagan and Iran Contra and Clinton and Monica.
Internationally some of the worst offenders are authoritarian regimes like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia. China is a bad actor. We know who they are and how they behave, so why would we ever expect them to be forthcoming with information about COVID-19.
Once our intelligence picked up on a new virus in the Wuhan province, we should have started immediately to prepare for the potential of a global outbreak. To expect China to be the model global citizen is to ignore the instinctive behavior of organizations but especially authoritarian regimes.
Trump, whose life history is one of lies and cover up, knows that and was hardly forthcoming with the American people in the early weeks of this crisis. He is in a panic search for scapegoats. China, Obama, WHO, whatever sticks.
There is no evidence of a mistake in the Wuhan lab or that China developed the virus. We know China is a bad actor, but we are intertwined economically and now is not the time to risk a return to cold war relationships.
Trump thinks scapegoating China deflects his failure of leadership dealing with this pandemic, but it only highlights incompetence one more time in not expecting China to conceal the threat this virus posed.
Here comes the political strategy to portray Biden as soft on China, but Trump is on record with plenty of warm and fuzzies between himself and Jinping. More chaos in our international relations and global supply chains and more uncertainty for American-owned businesses doing business in China is the last thing a nation with Depression levels of unemployment needs.
The plaque on Truman’s desk said: “The buck stops here." Trump is quick to stop the buck in the good times, but in bad times, those bucks slide right off his desk.
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