Lessons From World War II for the Coronavirus Pandemic
Interestingly, World War II offers many lessons that could help us survive the coronavirus pandemic.
In particular, the British, Canadian, and American war efforts offer us a blueprint for fighting or containing the coronavirus. However, it is not clear if the politicians who talk admirably of the Greatest Generation will learn those lessons.
To help our leaders and show ordinary people that can we survive and win here are some lessons from World War II for the Coronavirus battle:
Second World War Lessons for the Coronavirus Fight
1. The Dollar-A-Year Men
Many business executives and entrepreneurs volunteered their services to the U.S. and Canadian governments for $1 a year during World War II. The executives worked for $1 a year because US law prevented direct payments to private individuals.
For instance, auto executive and production wizard William Signius Knudsen served as the Director of Production overseeing manufacturing in the U.S. War Department. Reviving the dollar-a-year person concept could give our government access to the world’s smartest and most creative executives.
Notably, the government could on the services of such people as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Musk, for instance, is a production wizard. Notably, Musk claims his company SpaceX could produce a giant interplanetary rocket every 72 hours, Digital Trends reports.
Meanwhile, Gates has been studying and preparing for pandemics and experimenting with vaccination for decades. Plus, Bezos is a genius at delivering goods to millions of people.
2. Nonpartisan Leadership
During the Second World War, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York) tapped the smartest leaders of both parties to lead the war effort.
For example, FDR appointed Henry L. Stimson (R-New York) Secretary of War (Defense). I think you can argue that the Republican Stimson; and not the ailing FDR, was the real leader and organizer of America’s World War II effort.
In particular, Stimson, not FDR, made most of the decisions that led to the atomic bomb. Oddly, Stimson had been Secretary of War for President William H. Taft (R-Ohio), and Secretary of State for Roosevelt’s predecessor President Herbert Hoover (R-California).
Other Republicans FDR tapped for high office included Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, General Douglas MacArthur, and William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan who formed the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). To elaborate, the OSS was America’s first professional intelligence agency that evolved into the modern CIA.
Roosevelt’s decision to ignore party differences ensured that America had effective leadership and won the war. President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) could follow FDR’s example by tapping Democrats with experience in dealing with pandemics.
For example, Trump could appoint former President Barack Obama (D-Illinois) coronavirus czar to lead the fight against COVID-19. Others Trump could call for help include Joe Biden (D-Delaware), former Vice President Al Gore (D-Tennessee), former President Bill Clinton (D-Arkansas), General Colin Powell, and former President George W. Bush (R-Texas).
One way to get Trump to take this step is to tell the Donald that Obama, Gore, and Clinton will be too busy to campaign for Joe Biden if he gives them jobs.
3. Mobilize and Centralize Private Industry
The British, Canadian, and American governments went to great lengths to mobilize private industry to supply the war effort during World War II.
For example, the Roosevelt administration nationalized the auto industry and put William Signius Knudsen in charge. Under Knudsen’s direction, automakers produced 50,000 planes a year for the war effort. To fund the production, Congress appropriated $700 million to finance new factories.
Today, America faces shortages of respirators, face masks, surgical gowns, hand sanitizers and many other critical supplies. We could produce those resources by appointing somebody such as Knudsen as production czar to oversee the manufacture of the supplies we need.
One person to call could be Elon Musk, the production genius behind Tesla and SpaceX. If Musk could produce a giant rocket every 72 hours and build a Gigafactory he could build respirators and other equipment fast.
To distribute those supplies, we could ask Jeff Bezos to mobilize Amazon’s resources. If Amazon can ship 4.4 billion packages a year, it could deliver all the supplies the Coronavirus fight needs.
Meanwhile, Bill Gates could head vaccination production efforts. Gates has been overseeing vaccine research and development and manufacturing at his Gates Foundation for over 20 years.
Other corporations the government could mobilize include automakers, Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG), the former Google, and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL).
4. Mobilize Big Science
During World War II the United States launched a massive research and development effort; the Manhattan Project, to develop the atomic bomb before the Axis.
Astonishingly, over 600,000 people worked on the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project mobilized academic, scientific, industrial, and commercial resources. Importantly, the government allocated $500 million to the Manhattan Project.
The US government built two small cities; Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to house Manhattan Project personnel. Therefore, a modern Manhattan Project could help us lick coronavrius. In particular, I want to see a joint US-Chinese Manhattan Project to fight Coronavirus. The first goal of the project will be to create a COVID-19 vaccine.
Interestingly, one Manhattan Project facility the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is taking a leading role in the Coronavirus fight. One Zero reports researchers are using the world’s most powerful supercomputer, the IBM (NYSE: IBM) Summit, to find drugs that can fight COVID-19. They keep the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Why not harness America’s government, academic, scientific, commercial, and military resources in a new Manhattan Project to produce a COVID-19 vaccine and drugs? Interestingly, I think the logical person to head up that project is Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) founder Bill Gates who has been warning us about pandemics for decades.
5. Form Distasteful Alliances
During World War II, the United States had close alliances with the totalitarian Soviet Union and the imperialistic British Empire.
Both Britain and the USSR practiced ideologies most Americans, including FDR himself, found distasteful. Yet the US went to great lengths to support the Russian and British war efforts.
For example, the US shipped 44,000 jeeps, 375,883 trucks, 8,071 tractors, 14,000 planes, and 12,000 tanks to the Soviet Union during World War II. FDR supplied the equipment because Russian troops were killing millions of German soldiers.
In addition, the US maintained close alliances with the British and French governments during World War II. Yet, FDR himself believed British and French colonialism were barbaric. Notably, both the British and French maintained their colonial empires during World War II. However, FDR withheld his criticism because America needed British and French help.
Today, America needs a close alliance with the People’s Republic of China, which President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) and many of his followers dislike. Importantly, the Chinese could have beat the coronavirus.
In fact, Chinese authorities claim they had received no new local reports of COVID-19 infections on 12 March 2020, The New York Times reports. Hence, the Chinese could know how to control the Coronavirus. America needs that knowledge and Chinese help.
For example, we could send American scientists and doctors to China to study the Chinese response and see if we could duplicate it. In addition, we could invite Chinese experts to the US to help with our Coronavirus response.
If FDR could work closely with one of history’s most blood thirsty dictators; Soviet boss Joseph Stalin, to defeat Hitler and Imperial Japan. Trump can bury his differences with Chinese President Xi Jinping to lick coronavirus.
Unlike Stalin, Xi is a reasonable and civilized person. In contrast, FDR’s friend Stalin was a psychopath and a murderer. However, Stalin’s soldiers killed four million German soldiers in World War II, reducing the Nazi forces America had to fight. Thus, FDR saved hundreds of thousands or millions of American lives by working with Stalin.
Beyond China, America needs to settle its differences with countries such as Iran and Venezuela to fight coronavirus. A good start could be to apologize to Iran for the assassination of General Qasem Solemani. Another is to end the US sanctions against both Iran and Venezuela and end our efforts to overthrow and subvert those nations’ governments.
I think if Trump takes such actions now, he could go down in history as a great president and a statesman. If the Donald continues the imbecilic neoconservative policy of American Imperialism, history will remember Trump as a dangerous idiot.
America triumphed in World War II because FDR put ideological qualms aside and made necessary alliances. Trump could learn a lesson in burying differences from FDR. Now is the time to abandon racism and xenophobia for the common good.
In the final analysis, World War II offers many important lessons for the fight against Coronavirus. Hopefully, our leaders will learn those lessons and implement them.