The term “fog of war” has been defined by various sources as “the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations. The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding one’s own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign. Military forces try to reduce the fog of war through military intelligence and friendly force tracking systems.”
The “Fog of War” is also a 2003 academy award winning documentary about former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and the role he played in perpetrating lies and deceit to the American people during the Kennedy-Johnson presidential years, especially during the Cuban Missile crisis and the Viet Nam War.
OUR CORONA VIRUS WARTIME PRESIDENT
It comes as no surprise that President Donald Trump is declaring himself a “wartime president”. His appointed Surgeon General is now saying “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment”. Trump knows full well that the wartime references will give him a bump in popularity for his re election bid. Its called “rally round the flag” effect.
The rally ’round the flag effect is a concept used in political science and international relations to explain increased short-run popular support for a President of the United States during periods of major crisis or war that threatens the United States. The rally ’round the flag” effect can reduce criticism of governmental policies.
In times of major crisis, usually in time of war and national threat, the American public usually views a President as the embodiment of national unity, and the president’s popularity goes up but it does not last. The best example is the 9-11 World Trade Center attack where President George W. Bushes popularity soared to over 90% but he left office with approval ratings in the 30’s after his second term.
ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORT
On April 11, the Associated Press published the following article, which is followed by the link to the article, that outlines the major unmet promises of President Trump’s handling of corona virus pandemic. The article refers to those promises as the “fog of promises” which can also be called Trump’s “fog of war.” Following is the article and link:
HEADLINE: Trump leaves trail of unmet promises in coronavirus response
by: CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press
Posted: Apr 11, 2020 / 06:39 AM MDT / Updated: Apr 11, 2020 / 07:39 AM MDT
For several months, President Donald Trump and his officials have cast a fog of promises meant to reassure a country in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump and his team haven’t delivered on critical ones.
They talk numbers. Bewildering numbers about masks on the way. About tests being taken. About ships sailing to the rescue, breathing machines being built and shipped, field hospitals popping up, aircraft laden with supplies from abroad, dollars flowing to crippled businesses.
Piercing that fog is the bottom-line reality that Americans are going without the medical supplies and much of the financial help they most need from the government at the very time they need it most — and were told they would have it.
The U.S. now is at or near the height of COVID-19 sickness and death, experts believe.
There’s no question that on major fronts — masks, gowns, diagnostic tests, ventilators and more —- the federal government is pushing hard now to get up to speed. Impressive numbers are being floated for equipment and testing procedures in the pipeline.
But in large measure they will arrive on the down slope of the pandemic, putting the U.S. in a better position should the same virus strike again but landing too late for this outbreak’s lethal curve.
Concerning ventilators, for example, Trump recently allowed: “A lot of them will be coming at a time when we won’t need them as badly.”
Two weeks ago, Trump brought word of an innovative diagnostic test that can produce results in minutes instead of days or a week. The U.S. testing system, key to containing the spread of infection, has been a failure in the crunch, as public health authorities (but never Trump) acknowledged in March. The rapid test could help change that.
Like other glimmers of hope that may or may not come to something, Trump held out these tests as a “whole new ballgame.” The new machines and testing cartridges are being sent across the country, and may well hold promise. But they are not ready for actual use in large numbers.
New Hampshire, for one, received 15 rapid-test machines but 120 cartridges instead of the 1,500 expected. Only two machines can be used. “I’m banging my head against the wall, I really am,” Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said Wednesday. “We’re going to keep pushing on Washington multiple times a day to get what we need.”
False starts and dead ends are inevitable in any crisis, especially one driven by a virus never seen before. By its nature, a crisis means we’re not on top of it. Desperation is the mother of invention here and officials worldwide are winging it, many more successfully than in the U.S.\
But bold promises and florid assurances were made, day after day, from the White House and a zigzagging president who minimized the danger for months and systematically exaggerates what Washington is doing about it.
“We’re getting them tremendous amounts of supplies,” he said of health care workers. “Incredible. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.” This was when Americans were watching something else entirely — doctors wearing garbage bags for makeshift protection.
MASKS, GLOVES, GOWNS
In hospitals, masks, gloves and other protective garb come with the territory. But doctors, nurses, flight attendants and other front-line workers have had to go begging for such basics, even before public health leaders flipped and recommended facial coverings for everyone outside the home.
The mere scale of the pandemic stretched supplies even in better prepared countries. Yet the enduring shortages in the U.S. are not just from a lack of foresight, but also from hesitancy as the pandemic started to sicken and kill Americans.
It was not until mid-March, when some hospitals were already treating thousands of infected patients without enough equipment and pleading for help, that the government placed bulk orders for N95 masks and other basic necessities of medical care for its stockpile, The Associated Press reported. Washington dithered on supplies for two months after global alarm bells rang about a coming pandemic in January.
And the Strategic National Stockpile, it turns out, is not the supply fortress you might have thought from its formidable name.
It maxed out days ago, before the pandemic’s peak in the U.S., and never filled its purpose of plugging the most essential and immediate gaps in supplies, though it helped. This past week officials said the stockpile was 90% depleted of its protective equipment, with the remainder to be held back for federal employees only.
Some shipments to states were deficient. The wrong masks were sent to Illinois in a load of 300,000. Michigan got only half of the number that was supposed to be in a shipment of 450,000. When he was trying to get 10,000 ventilators in late March, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said he received 170 broken ones from the national stockpile as well as good ones.
When officials in Alabama opened a shipment of medical masks from the stockpile, they found more than 5,000 with rot. They had expired in 2010, officials in the state said, yet been left in place first by the Obama administration and then the Trump administration.
When it became clear that critical shortages weren’t being solved, the self-styled “wartime president,” who had gone to Norfolk, Virginia, to send off the USS Comfort Navy hospital ship to New York City, blamed the states and declared the federal government isn’t a “shipping clerk.”
“Anybody that needs a test, gets a test,” Trump said on March 6. “They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.” He said the same day: “Anybody that wants a test can get a test.”
Whether it’s a case of needing a test or only wanting one, his assurance was not true then, it’s not true now and it won’t be true any time soon.
The greatly expanding but still vastly insufficient capacity to test people is steered mostly to those who are already sick or to essential workers at the most risk of exposure.
If you’re sick with presumed COVID-19 but riding it out at home, chances are you haven’t been tested. If you worry that you’ve been exposed and might be carrying and spreading the virus but so far feel fine, you’re generally off the radar as well.
Trump tries to assure people who need to fly that passengers are tested getting on and off flights. He is wrong. Instead, some major airports do screenings, which means asking passengers questions and checking their temperature, not swabbing their nasal passages to find out for sure.
Many people with the virus will never get sick from it. Others who have it will get sick eventually. Both groups are contagious. But there is no capacity in the days of greatest danger to test apparently healthy people in large numbers, so precautionary distancing remains the best defense, like in ancient times.
Within three weeks of China’s New Year’s Eve notification to global health authorities about a mysterious cluster of pneumonia cases, China had sequenced the genetic makeup of the virus, German scientists had developed a test for detecting it and the World Health Organization had adopted the test and was moving toward global distribution.
Ten days behind, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bypassed the WHO test and sponsored their own, which was flawed out of the gate. Trump said the WHO test was flawed, but it wasn’t.
Precious time was lost as the U.S. test was corrected, distributed narrowly, then more broadly but still not up to par with the countries most on top of the crisis. Testing most lagged during the critical month of February as the virus took root in the U.S. population.
Germany, in contrast, raced ahead with aggressive testing of a broad segment of the population when it had fewer than 10 cases in January. It has experienced far fewer deaths proportionally than the United States.
“There were many, many opportunities not to end up where we are,” Dr. Ashish K. Jha, director of the Global Health Institute at Harvard, told AP.
Trump told Americans on March 13 that a division of Google’s parent company was coming out with a website that would let people determine online if they should get a test and, if so, swing by a nearby place to get one, a notable shortcut in theory. But a game-changer in practice?
“It’s going to be very quickly done,” he said. The website is up but operational in just four California counties. Drive-through sites that he promised would expedite testing were plagued with shortages and delays in state after state, such that many people with symptoms and a doctor’s order were turned away.
Trump dusted off the Defense Production Act, empowering him to order manufacturers and shippers to make and deliver what the country needs in the crisis. His move raised expectations that a new wave of emergency supplies generally and ventilators in particular could come to the aid of patients and the people looking after them. He and his advisers inflated those hopes.
Under the president’s “vigorous, swift” order to General Motors, said Peter Navarro, White House point man on the emergency supply chain, new ventilators would be ready in “Trump time, which is to say as fast as possible.”
Yet Trump has held off on using his full powers under the act to command production from private companies. A presidential directive to GM on ventilator manufacturing essentially told the company to do what it was already doing.
While most people get better from COVID-19 without needing medical care, the sickest cannot breathe without a ventilator bridging them to recovery. The ventilator shortfall has been the most frightening deficiency as more people get infected and die by the hour. In the current chaos, the size of the shortfall nationally is not known.
In the absence of what they regard as dependable federal leadership, several states formed a supply consortium to coordinate purchases and boost their buying power. The federal government has pitched in with states and private companies to spur supplies, though not exactly in an atmosphere of trust.
Governors accuse Washington of shortchanging states on machines. Washington accuses some of them of trying to build an unreasonable cushion that deprives other, more desperate states.
According to the scientific model most favored by federal authorities, the country probably needs nearly 17,000 ventilators to be operating for COVID-19 patients alone at the pandemic’s peak, right about now, a figure that exceeds 35,000 under a worst-case scenario.
“We have over 100,000 being built right now or soon to be started,” Trump said a week ago. He acknowledged they won’t come in time.
WHERE’S THE MONEY?
“This will deliver urgently needed relief,” Trump said in signing an economic rescue package into law. The need may be urgent but the delivery hasn’t been.
More than two weeks later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said with some exaggeration, but not much, that “no money has gone out the door yet.”
Because of the bureaucracy.
Because of website glitches.
Because of confusion among lenders with the money to farm out and among those who need it to keep their businesses afloat.
So much for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s prediction that loans could be turned around and money transferred to businesses’ bank accounts the same day applications were received.
Yet because of the flood of pending loans, Congress is already having to find more money for subsidies to help businesses cover payroll. Only a tiny fraction of loans has been released.
Meantime state officials are slammed as they try to administer jobless benefits that Washington expanded and is paying for but having states try to manage.
Frustration with the virus package is going viral.
In Portland, Maine, a furloughed orthopedic medical assistant, Margaret Heath Carignan, called the unemployment office on a day set aside for people with surnames starting with A through H. And called and called. Altogether, she said, 291 times before she gave up.
TRUMP PROCLAIMS HE HAS ULTIMATE AUTHORITY OVER STATES AND GOVERNORS
President Trump is now looking at reopening the economy by May 1, creating yet another crisis putting him on a collision course with state leaders who are pushing back.
On April 13, President Trump said the decision to reopen the country’s ailing economy ultimately rests with him, not state leaders there by escalating his feud with governors over when to allow Americans to return to work. In two tweets, Trump claimed he had the ultimate authority to loosen coronavirus outbreak measures as governors pushed ahead with their own plans for reopening their states, in some cases a coalition of governors looking at regions.
In his first tweet, Trump wrote:
“For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect”.
In the second tweet, Trump wrote:
“It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!”.
The two tweets were in total contradiction to previous comments Trump had made the previous week when he said he didn’t want to overrule governors on matters regarding closures and coronavirus strictures, even though he would be within his right to under the constitution, and said:
“I like to allow governors to make decisions without overruling them, because from a constitutional standpoint, that’s the way it should be done. … “If I disagreed, I would overrule a governor, and I have that right to do it … I would rather have them make their decisions.”
The truth is that President Trump does not have any authority to overrule the governors nor order them to reverse the closure and reopen the economy. The United States Constitution does not give the President the auhority Trump claims he has and neither has the congress.
During his April 14 news conference on the corona virus updates, Trump said this:
“When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that’s the way it’s got to be. … It’s total. The governors know that. … [They] can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”
WITHHOLDING FUNDING TO WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
On April 2, 2020, Trump had this to say about travel restrictions to China:
“I cut off China very early. And if I didn’t, we would have a chart that you wouldn’t believe. So how would I know to do that? How would I know to cut off Europe? I cut off Europe very early. I mean, you have to make a decision. People knew that some bad things were going on, and they got off to a late start. And some others got off to a late start also. But we cut off China. If we didn’t cut off China, we would have been in some big trouble. And we cut it off.”
Trump has repeatedly patted himself on the back for announcing travel restrictions on China as the novel coronavirus emerged in January. Before the caseload in the United States exploded, Trump attributed what he considered a small number of cases to that decision. Even as deaths from covid-19 in the United States started to soar, he said he saved lives by imposing what he calls a “ban” on China and said on March 25:
“We’re the ones that gave the great response, and we’re the ones that kept China out of here. … And if I didn’t do it, you’d have thousands and thousands of people died — who would’ve died — that are now living and happy.”
The truth is that the World Health Organization cautioned against such travel restrictions, saying they are ineffective against a virus and in the long run counterproductive. Trump, according to news reports, was initially skeptical and worried about provoking China after signing a major trade deal. But his national security and public health experts convinced him that the move would buy time to put in place effective prevention and testing measures.
On April 14, President Donald Trump order the suspension of funding to the World Health Organization while it reviews the agency’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic,. Trump said the international health agency made mistakes that “caused so much death” as the coronavirus spread across the globe. At a press conference Trump said:
“Today I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus”.
Trump criticized the international agency’s response to the outbreak, saying “one of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations” that Trump imposed early on in the outbreak. … Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China saving untold numbers of lives.”
What Trump did not disclose is all of his own efforts to down play the pandemic, refusing to believe what he was being told in January. Now he is taking credit for saving lives in an effort to find blame on the World Health Organization.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Trump has an uncanny ability to make things worse with his daily tweeting and self-absorbed, self-center arrogance. His recent false proclamation that the decision to reopen the country’s ailing economy ultimately rests with him, not the governors is the best example of how delusional he is. After over 3 years of constant daily news coverage and twitters from Trump creating crisis, after crisis, after crisis of his own making, even bringing the country close to nuclear war with North Korea, the United States is now faced with a major pandemic revealing a man who is totally unfit, incompetent and totally unprepared to be President.
Trump can no longer have his political rallies to gin up his base because of the pandemic. Trump has now taken to daily news briefings and updates and taking benevolent credit for the help and assistance being given the states, except when things go wrong. Trump refuses to accept the fact that he does not know what he is talking about. Trump consistently contradicts his medical advisors and lies to the public with what is going on. He also lashes out against his critics and the news media during his daily briefings. Trump is now proclaiming that only he can re open the economy and that the Governors cannot which is absurd and simply not at all true.
Trump supporters look upon him as the messiah that is cult like. As the crisis continues, the odds are high that he will only complicate the crisis, making things MUCH worse and create another crisis within a crisis. More people will likely die because of his mishandling of it. Trump will make things worse because he just cannot help it. Our Bone Spur Commander in Chief thinks he is in a war and not a worldwide heath crisis. President Trump is now creating his own “fog of war” which is increasing casualties’ way beyond comprehension as well as destroying the economy in the process.
One thing is certain. Trump is a cancer on our body politic that must be removed, the sooner the better, or the patient will die like so many have died in the pandemic.