Foreign Policy magazine’s article “The Coronavirus Is the Worst Intelligence Failure in U.S. History” authored by Micah Zenko, compares the US response to intelligence agencies’ warnings to Pearl Harbor, the Iranian Revolution and 9/11. It’s informative and thought provoking.
US intelligence was warning the administration about the potential for an epidemic like COVID-19 back in January according to this article from The Hill. The author points out he had met with an important business leader in September who was already worrying about the threat. The Wuhan Lab has been under scrutiny for quite some time, even popped up in the news in 2017 in this Nature.com article.
In the meantime, political exploitation of the pandemic has been apparent in Xi Jinpeng’s propaganda machine (from Maclean’s) and in Viktor Orban’s autocratic power grab in Hungary (from Time Magazine). Makes one realize how fragile democracy can be.
Intelligence failures can boil down to a psychological analyses; were those warned failing to act because they didn’t believe what was coming down the pike? Why didn’t they believe it? Were they second guessing political maneuvers? Is it simple arrogance or fearful dismissal? Why does a deer stare at the headlights? It’s hard to say really. I’m sure messengers and investigators find it extremely frustrating.
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