United States governments have sent their children to kill and to be killed in many wars. Freely using mendacious stories, such as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, where Vietnam torpedo boats (motorboats) supposedly attacked U.S. warships close to the Vietnam shores, and the false allegation that Saddam Hussein was ready to manufacture nuclear weapons and wreak havoc on the United States, U.S. presidents have recklessly caused deaths to U.S. service personnel and to innocents from other nations. The COVID-19 epidemic is another example of the U.S. government exercising its freedom to kill, and the U.S. people exercising their freedom to be killed.
Except for World War II and the 1918 flu epidemic, no war has seen as many casualties in the United States as the war against the SARS CoV-2. The former claimed 416,800 Americans; the latter had deaths estimated to be about 675,000 occurring in the United States. As of July 9, the U.S. had 135,822 deaths from SARS CoV-2, as much as the major western European nations combined. With the entire world now infected by the Coronavirus, the United States, with less than five percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of the world’s infected and 25 percent of the world’s deaths.
Statistics describe the magnitude of the U.S. military killing machine.
Vietnam War estimates of North Vietnam/Viet Cong military and civilian deaths range between 533,000 and 1,489,000. Most researchers agree on the figure of 65,000 civilians killed by American bombing. Guenter Lewy, an apologist for American intervention, America in Vietnam, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1978, cites a figure of 666,000 North Vietnamese military and Viet Cong deaths.
Investigations of casualties in the Iraq 2003 war and the ongoing Afghanistan War appear in Body Count Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the “War on Terror, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, First international edition – Washington DC, Berlin, Ottawa – March 2015, Population and Development Review, Volume 21, Issue 4 (Dec., 1995), 783-812
This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.
Add the 1991 Gulf War, Kosovo War, Libyan War, and the Central American incursions — Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Dominican Public, Dominica, Cuba — and the number of foreign persons killed by U.S. forces is huge; not huge is the number of Americans who seem to care.
The useless wars and their body counts, foreign and American, are enough to label Americans and their leaders as insensitive violators of human life. The Coronavirus epidemic has accentuated that description, brought out the worst in America – lies, deceit, cowardice, sycophantism, sinecures, misguided loyalties, placing politics ahead of people, placing manufacturing product ahead of maintaining human life — freedom to kill and freedom to be killed.
Coronavirus Task Force
Briefings by the Coronavirus Task force, portrayed as an opportunity to inform the American public of the progress being made to defeat the virus, serve to hide the administration’s ineptness in the war against COVID-19. A public relations stunt and theater of the absurd, it acts as a first line of defense against those who might criticize the handling of the epidemic. The Task Force has not portrayed a well-coordinated national strategy and its members do not give the impression they communicate well with one another. Results dictate its effectiveness, and the results are that the United States, which has 4-5 percent of the world’s population, has 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases and 25% of the world’s deaths.
Donald J. Trump heads the cast of characters who, like all actors, have a mission to refocus the audience from the real world to what is being staged. Trump started the farce by forcibly remarking that everyone who wants a novel coronavirus test can have one, and saying this one day after Vice President Mike Pence, the Task Force leader, said, “We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”
Trying to present a good face, Trump stood next to arranged posters that characterized the United States as the leader in virus testing. “Way ahead of everyone,” proudly proclaimed Trump. When confronted with the fact that the U.S. is not ahead in testing/capita, Trump replied. “Lots of per capitas.” Then murmured, “We’re number one in everything.” Lies and deceit.
Vice-president, Mike Pence, appointed on January 29 to chair the Task Force, stays in the background and uses public meetings to praise his boss. “Thanks to President Trump’s leadership and the efforts of the American people, we’ve saved lives, slowed the spread, and states are opening up again,” said Vice President Pence on May 15. Not so sure on June 30, when the VP cancelled trips to Arizona and Florida due to the virus upsurge. Accentuating the positive, Pence does not explain why two months after being appointed, the U.S. could only perform 100,000 daily tests. He boasts that the falling death rate from 2700 in one day to 260 in one day is a sign of tremendous progress without considering that before everyone dies a falling death rate has to happen and that the high figure of 2700 deaths in one day occurred to a lack of preparedness. Germany, with ¼ U.S. population had only 300 deaths on its worst day or 1/9 that of the U.S. worst days. Deceit and placing politics above people.
US health secretary Alex Azar, in one of his presentations, started with commending the Congo for halting a new Ebola contagion, a maneuver designed to slip into his discourse how the achievement was aided by the United States under the direction of President Trump — a slight massaging of the American psyche before massaging the bad news. Sycophancy.
Trump’s principal method of distracting from the incompetence in halting the epidemic is to state that the U.S. is number one in testing and has rising cases because it has more testing. Having the third largest population in the world demands more testing and testing/per capita is the important figure. Several of the world’s major nations — Russia, United kingdom, Spain — show more tests/capita. Italy and others had more tests/capita, but their testing has been slowed because of the decrease in their epidemics, while the U.S. tests/capita increases due to the increase in the contagions. Naturally, cases increase as testing increases, just as more innings pitched means more runs scored against the pitcher. Earned run average – runs earned divided by innings pitched and multiplied by nine, which makes it runs scored per game – determines a pitcher’s effectiveness. The ratio of new positive cases divided by a constant number of tests determines if the epidemic is continuing and spreading. The number of daily tests has been relatively constant the last few weeks, oscillating between 550 and 650 daily tests, while the percentage of positive tests has increased monotonically and dramatically, from a low of 4.4 percent on June 14 to 8.0 percent on July 8.
The following curve, from https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/testing/individual-states, tells the story.
The early testing was not random and focused on probable positive cases. The daily cases (bottom and darker bars and left numbers) rose with the number of tests (upper bars and numbers on left). Because most tests were dedicated to probable positive cases, the percentage of positive cases rose rapidly (numbers on the right). After sufficient testing became available to achieve more random sampling, the percentage of positive cases began to fall.
When testing reached 500,000 daily, the data inclined to more random sampling but not entirely – many tests favored possibly infected persons. After three months of epidemic, the number of infected persons appeared to be declining – not dramatically but slowly. On about June 15, the pattern changed and the number of infections and their percentages rose swiftly. The elevated number of new cases was not due to any elevated testing – number of daily tests were relatively constant; the increasing number of daily cases was due to more widespread contagion, with the percentage of positive tests going from 4.4 percent to 8.0 percent. Trump either does not understand the data or interprets it in his own beneficial manner, both serious conditions. The fact that nobody in his Task Force corrects him and informs the American people with the accurate information tells the real story behind this punishing farce.
Daily cases in Germany and Italy compared to those in the United States tell more of the story.
In Italy and Germany (right graph), the daily number of cases rose sharply to a peak of 6,000 daily and then declined monotonically to about 500 for Germany and 200 for Italy within three months. Daily testing remained at about the same levels for the last three months, and the ratio of new cases to new tests was about .8 percent for Germany, only 11 percent of the U.S. ratio, and .4 percent for Italy, only 5.5 percent of the U.S. ratio.
In the United States, the number of cases rose sharply to 35,000 daily, dropped slowly to 20,000 cases daily, and then rose again sharply to unimagined levels of 50,000-60,000 daily. The uptick contrasts sharply with Italy and Germany’s natural and steady decline in the number of cases. The difference in the curves is directly related to the difference in handling the situations. Italian and German authorities handled the situation well; U.S. authorities mishandled the situation.
The curve of the number of deaths in each of these nations completes the story.
Italy’s confirmed deaths (right graph) have levelled off at about 36,000. After four months of epidemic, its death rate has declined from about 900 deaths at its peak to about 20 deaths daily.
Germany’s confirmed deaths have levelled off at about 10,000. After almost four months of epidemic, its death rate has declined from about 300 deaths at its peak to about 10 deaths daily.
The U.S. confirmed deaths have surpassed 135,000 and are still rising; the second week of July has had days of almost 1000 deaths. After almost four months of epidemic, its death rate declined from about 2700 deaths at its peak to an average of about 600 deaths daily.
More important is that the German and Italian curves have become relatively flat, signifying that new deaths are scarcely occurring, while the U.S. curve is still on the upswing and has a ways to go before daily deaths are reduced to nil. Due to the careless actions of the American administrations, local, state and federal, and the inattention of the American public, Americans are dying daily and needlessly by the hundreds.
Careless actions leading to needless deaths are reflected by Trump constantly searching for a means to distract the American public from the ravages of the epidemic. He heralds, “The nation’s death rate from coronavirus is down despite the surge in new cases.” Well, it could not stay at previous high levels without everybody in the nation dying, and the shortages of testing services, hospital equipment and hospital beds, all of which contributed to a high death fate, could not remain as shortages forever. Why were there shortages and why was the daily death rate elevated in a nation that prides itself on its health care? Trump claims the medical supply cupboard was empty when he took office; if so, why did he not immediately correct the problem?
Trump’s latest weird departure from reality is that the U.S. has the lowest death rate. The U.S. has a lower number of deaths/million population than the five west European nations, except Germany, and magnitudes higher deaths/million population than more than 200 other nations. As previously shown, the U.S. death numbers remain high and are falling slower than that of the other major western nations. After falling to a low of 262 deaths on July 5, the number of deaths rose to 995 on July 8. The war has ended and we have 1000 killed in one day. The important statistic is that the United States, with less than five percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of the world’s infected and 25 percent of the world’s deaths.
Just as U.S. presidents have fought wars for economic reasons, and permitted U.S, soldiers to kill and be killed to assure economic superiority, the epidemic’s effects on the economy guide Trump’s battle plan for CoVid-19. He never says we had a healthy populace and now it is being ravished by the coronavirus; he often states, “We had this marvelous economy, the best in the world, the best ever, and the virus came and….”
Strange that this falsehood is not adequately countered. Since the late 1800s, the United States, except for some recessions, has had the most productive world economy. During the roaring twenties, the US had half of world production, and has only 1/8 of the same during the Trump administration. Almost every U.S. President has seen a substantial rise in the stock market during his administration. The Trump administration has only added to existing trends — nothing unusual or extraordinary. Trump’s claim of achieving “the best economy that the world has ever had” is a meaningless and self-aggrandizing play on words. When a multitude of factors, rather than a few handpicked factors, is considered, during his term in office, U.S. economic progress has been meager.
Trump’s boasts use the Gross Domestic product (GDP) and low employment figures to signify the ultimate greatness of the economy during his administration. These figures owe their stature to the service industry, which has become the more prominent aspect of the economy, the GDP, and employment. A great economy is a productive economy and not a service, or consumptive economy. Flipping hamburgers may decrease the unemployment; digesting hamburgers will increase the GDP. Trump’s economy runs on hamburgers.
Do U.S. presidents play much of a role in directing the economy, or is that more a function of the Federal Reserve and congressional budgets? The real GDP increased by $2.7 trillion during Trump’s first three years in office. During the time, the Federal Reserve reversed its decline in balance sheet to reach close to pre-Trump levels and the government deficit increased by $3.2 trillion. Free money buys a lot of GDP.
His program for returning the U.S. economic machine to normal indicates his lack of economic knowledge and business acumen. Opening service industries, such as restaurants and sports events employs low wage people who cannot afford the spending. Service customers are middle class wage earners who must first get back to work for a few weeks before having sufficient surplus funds to spend on leisure activities.
Trump’s discouraging attitude to wearing masks has economic damage.
National Mask Mandate Could Save up to 5 Percent of GDP
According to an analysis by Goldman Sachs, a national mask mandate could save 5 percent of the United States’ GDP amid surging coronavirus cases (WaPo). The analysis states, “A face mask mandate could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP.
Covid-19 has exposed faults in the American system. Operating well on the offense, the U.S, government has not adequately defended its citizens from the epidemic. Self-serving agendas and political expediency have been the administration’s guides to resolving the epidemic. Missing from U.S. response to SARS CoV-2 are an effective assimilation and interpretation of data, national coordination of activities, bipartisanship, and responding in a rapid and consistent manner.
Lack of knowledge and incoherent use of information comes from President Trump’s lips, “Cut the testing in half, and the number of cases will be halved.” By Trump’s logic, cut testing to zero and the problem is solved. An exact opposite to Trump’s thinking has occurred. While number of tests/day have remained relatively constant at about 600,000/day the number of cases have doubled from 25,000 to 50,000/day.
Trump’s niece, Mary L. Trump, who has a PhD from the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, reveals in her recently released memoir, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,”
His egregious and arguably intentional mishandling of the current catastrophe has led to a level of pushback and scrutiny that he’s never experienced before, increasing his belligerence and need for petty revenge as he withholds vital funding, personal protective equipment, and ventilators that your tax dollars have paid for from states whose governors don’t kiss his ass sufficiently.
If Trump was manager of a baseball team that lost a game by 23 to zero and committed 15 errors, he would say, “The fans say we are terrific, that I m a terrific manager. Our players are incredible. Incredible. Great guys. Amazing, amazing people.”
Rolling Stone at https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/covid-19-test-trump-admin-failed-disaster-995930/, long before the greater disaster unfolded, realized the disaster back in May.
Academic research from Imperial College in London, modeling the U.S. response, estimates that up to 90 percent of COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented had the U.S. moved to shut down by March 2nd. Instead, administration leaders dragged their feet for another two weeks, as the virus continued a silent, exponential assault. By early May, more than 75,000 Americans were dead.
By mid-July, almost 136,000 Americans were dead.
The coronavirus epidemic has made it obvious that the American government cannot care for its own citizens. Free enterprise comes ahead of enterprising solutions to an epidemic. Spurious and misinterpreted individual freedom comes ahead of duty to all. Political survival comes ahead of citizen survival. No attention to the observation that the dead cannot be revived, but economies can be reborn. Freedom to kill. Freedom to be killed.
Dan Lieberman is DC based editor of Alternative Insight, a commentary on foreign policy and politics. He is author of the book A Third Party Can Succeed in America and a Kindle: The Artistry of a Dog.