A Coronavirus Exit Strategy

By | March 24, 2020

[March 24, 2020]  If we were to look back upon the planning for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the one thing missing was an exit strategy.  It was an invaluable lesson learned from our strategic failures and one lesson that is seriously appreciated.  What we need now, during the Coronavirus pandemic, is an exit strategy from the economic and social lockdown now imposed upon ourselves.

“The United States has no exit strategy or timetable for withdrawing its forces from Iraq, and a pullout depends on the readiness of Iraqi Security Forces,” – Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense

We need a Coronavirus exit strategy.  Leaders are responsible for the future, what happens and what doesn’t happen.  That means leaders must be looking into the foggy future and figure out where we should be and then lay out a plan to get there with the least amount of pain.  Every economist is saying the United States has the confidence and capability to recover from the draconian measures now in place.  So far, there is little discussion on how to get there.

“The option to force everyone to stay home and close all ‘non-essential’ business for three or six months is simply not viable.” – John Cochrane, the Grumpy Economist

We need more than an economic Coronavirus exit strategy.  Modern nations are complex and highly interconnected.  Not only are nations industrial engines that help make their citizens succeed, but they are also social, political, and familial.  When a business shuts down, even temporarily, some costs extend beyond the economy.

Right now, politicians are the primary decision-makers.  Their input is primarily from the medical community.  What we do not hear about is whether policies and laws have undergone any rational cost-benefit analysis that includes the socio-political variables that also make up a nation.

In a previous post, I quoted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as saying, “I want to be able to say … [that] I did everything we could do … and if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.”1   This statement has its problems but also suggests that there is no real analysis.  If so, we are in serious trouble.  There will be unintended consequences, and the probability that many of those will be bad is excellent.

Many people are involved in making sure the U.S. comes out of the economic shutdown with as few problems as possible.  Now is time for us to hear about what some of those measures.  And now is the time for our leaders to show us the future.



Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

31 thoughts on “A Coronavirus Exit Strategy

  1. Jake Tapper, Jr.

    Every day brings us both good and bad news. Spain has some bad news about how some of their elderly are being abandoned to die. How truly sad.

    1. José Luis Rodriguez

      Let’s hope that we don’t see this in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter).

    1. Dennis Mathes

      U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he believes the country can “turn the tide” within 12 weeks, while President Donald Trump has suggested the U.S. can open up again “fairly soon.”

      1. Big Al

        I think that is way too soon but I’m just an office clerk and don’t have no high edumacation. I’m one of the flyover people, you know … clinging to my religion and my guns. Mostly to my guns. Plenty of ammo.

      2. Wendy Holmes

        Always have a Plan B is my motto. Have a way out of whatever you get yourself into. No matter how minor, always have a way out of it. You never know when someone or some accident will trap you into a bad situation. That’s why I always carry a fully loaded shotgun in the trunk of my car. Never needed it but it’s better than getting kidnapped or something else stupid.

  2. Willie Shrumburger

    Hi everyone! Now let’s remain positive. When things are going bad, there always is a silver lining to be found. One good thing is that the total number of deaths from other contagions like the flu will be far fewer. Crime, especially violent crime, will be down. People are coming together more and more; some are even discovering that they have neighbors. Let’s be thankful that these good things might actually continue.

  3. Janna Faulkner

    We hear a bunch about having an “exit strategy” and Gen. Satterfield has written about it in the past. This is all part of what experienced leaders do. They might not call it an exit strategy but that is what is happening. Good luck to everyone on our GREAT SELF-ISOLATION week.

  4. Joe Omerrod

    In his latest op-ed in the Washington Post (behind a cost firewall), Lane argues, as we have at Power Line, that ​​in dealing with the current public health crisis, the U.S. must be mindful of the economic side of the equation. Indeed, he notes, there is an economic prosperity side to public health. (There’s also a public health side to the economy. A virus that killed a very large number of Americans might well produce severe economic consequences as a result.)

    1. Santa Fe Mae

      As to the economic prosperity side of the public health equation, Charles Lane cites economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton for the following proposition: [A] rise in deaths linked to long-term economic hardship — suicide, overdoses and the like — has caused devastation in communities across the middle of the country, leading to a troubling recent decline in U.S. life expectancy.

    2. Linux Man

      Good comments. Looks like others are thinking like Gen. Satterfield. Leaders must ‘see’ into the future and have a way to navigate the choppy waters to arrive safely.

  5. Kenny Foster

    Now is the time for smart, experienced, and tested senior leaders to step-up, define the problem (not easy even today with the Coronavirus), and give us an outline of a solution out of this problem. I know that much of this is part of a detailed decision-making process but let us have some look at it so we can give feedback. I know this is a political tough decision, but trust the American peoples.

      1. Eva Easterbrook

        Never leave a disaster that a Democrat (ie communist) in the US is unwilling to exploit for pure partisan purposes. Nakedly purpose is to gain power and screw the people in the US.

    1. Mikka Solarno

      Spot-on comment, Kenny but will they listen? Doubtfully!

  6. JT Patterson

    It is always a good thing to hear from our military veterans. What they have is a unique perspective. This ‘perspective’ helps formulate in our minds what the real situation could be and thus we can logically figure out what we should be doing or not doing. Have a great week everyone, it’s going to be a big roller coaster ride if you live in the West.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Thanks JT for making a great point. We should all be listening closely to those like Gen. Satterfield and senior leaders who’ve been there done that.

  7. Army Vet

    I’ve been in the military business now for all my adult life. Gen. Satterfield has a point that should be considered correct. Period. In my experience, the more information the soldier has, the better he will perform on the battlefield. This means (for my hard to understand liberal friends) that keeping us in the loop and trusting us with all the right data that we will do better to support the mission.

    1. Eric Coda

      Hi Army Vet, I just love your articles so please publish one in the near future. We would all like to hear again from you from the ‘front lines’ fighting communism and all the other bad guys. Oh, yes, you have a great point and thanks for your service to the US and the Western world.

      1. Walter H.

        Gen. Satterfield, please ask Army Vet for another sage leadership post about what he’s been up to and how he’s been crushing the enemies of freedom in the world. Great ideas are always welcome here.

      2. Max Foster

        I agree that we should hear more from Army Vet. I’ve read and re-read his articles and found them to be very enlightening in all aspects of what it takes to stomp out evil. Evil exists everywhere and wise men like him are on the front lines every day making sure that those who would use evil for nefarious purposes are having their butt’s kicked.

    2. Harry Donner

      Army Vet, you are the best and have the most readable articles. I think I can speak for others here that read Gen. Satterfield and his blog, that we would like to hear from you more often. ?

  8. Army Captain

    Good point, senior leaders need to be thinking ahead. I’m sure they are but we just don’t know about it yet.

    1. monica

      I think we may have heard some of this already but maybe the US Pres and his advisors are thinking this is a bit early to burden folks with another round of bad news.

    2. Tom Bushmaster

      True, very true, I will add. But I do believe in Democratic societies that the people should still have this info regardless whether is bad or good. I have found that educated people generally can make better decisions in their lives and feel better if they have all the info, not just some of it that is filtered thru the govt.

      1. Dale Paul Fox

        Spot-on comment, Tom. Thanks. Yes, especially in the US, Canada, Europe, and a few other places. Otherwise, I’m not so sure.


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