Weaponising Covid-19 for political gain

THE politicised rhetoric targeting China has repercussions for Asians who have become victims of physical attacks, hate crimes and new forms of racism.

Are we – with the corona virus – witnessing a similar process of selling the big WMD (weapons of mass destruction) lie taking place against China now, described by the United States President Joe Biden as wanting to own the US by 2035?

The obsession with pinpointing the origins of the coronavirus to a leak from a Wuhan lab has again dominated headlines in the US and its allies.

The latest news onslaught comes after a Wall Street Journal report disclosed an earlier US intelligence story, which said that several researchers at the lab became sick in late 2019 “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness”.

Taking his cue from a followup CNN report that he had killed a Trump-era probe into whether the virus started in a Wuhan lab, Biden has now ordered the US “intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyse information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion ... in 90 days”.

Predictably a new frenzy of readers’ comments has re-emerged in the Western mainstream media accusing China of covering up from the beginning, and for being responsible for the deaths of Americans, Britishers and others.

Readers in the West have again called for the US, Britain and the rest of the world to punish China, with some commentators demanding compensation, the cancellation of US debt to China, and more extreme suggestions including a war against China on all fronts.

Meanwhile, two Western scientists, apparently looking for funding for their research and consultancy work on the virus, have stoked further public alarm with their unsubstantiated and unsupported study that has made a baseless claim that Chinese scientists created the virus and reverse-engineered versions to make it look like it evolved naturally from bats.

More sensationalistic disinformation can be expected from ideologically-motivated agencies and individuals looking for publicity and advancement.

We can expect those seeking to make a name for themselves and a fast buck to come out with new disclosures about China’s alleged biological warfare against the West.

Together with the continuing campaign against China’s alleged genocide policies in Xinjiang – a claim rejected by a majority of the world’s nations, including most Muslim countries – the anti-China bashing is reminiscent of the propaganda campaign waged by George Bush, Tony Blair and their allies against Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

This time around, the politicised rhetoric targeting China in the pandemic has had repercussions for many Asians, especially in the West, who have become victims of vicious physical attacks, hate crimes and new forms of racism.

The WMD war against Iraq

In 2003, the US invaded Iraq without cause or provocation. However, to engage in a war, a casus belli, or a case for war, had to be made.

The US case was that the war was to remove “a regime that developed and used weapons of mass destruction that harboured and supported terrorists, committed outrageous human rights abuses, and defied the just demands of the United Nations and the world”.

The massaging of public opinion to support the case was orchestrated several years earlier with the claim that Saddam Hussein was developing WMD and posed a threat to neighbouring countries and the free world.

Backed by a vociferous Western media, the WMD campaign was the archetype of a classic propaganda campaign, which rewarded the people who concocted and sold the lie.

Prominent cheerleaders of the campaign included editors, journalists, politicians, and intelligentsia from liberal and conservative camps.

US funding and favours were also extended to opinion leaders in other countries so that the war against Saddam Hussein’s WMD had credibility and global support.

Coalition of the willing

Which countries were partners in the US and British waged war to bring about regime change against Saddam Hussein and his WMD?

A list of the “coalition of the willing” first released by the US in 2003 at the start of the war, referred to countries which supported, militarily or politically, the invasion of Iraq and subsequent military presence, identified the following 31 countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.

Additions since then have included: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Kuwait, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Palau, Portugal, Rwanda, Singapore, Solomon Islands and Uganda.

Malaysia, to the credit of our government, refused to participate in this illegal, unjust and unnecessary war.

The most prominent members of the “coalition of the willing” were Britain and Australia, which provided troops, ships, planes and other military support. Japan, which turned its back on its pacifism policy, provided troops and also contributed billions of dollars to support the military and aftermath effort.

Much of the Japanese money “invested” in the war was recouped in lucrative reconstruction projects extended to Japanese companies.

Though the US suffered 5,000 military deaths from the war and post war occupation of Iraq, US taxpayers have reportedly paid an average of US$8,000 each and over US$2 trillion total for the war.

Iraq civilian casualty estimates range widely, but the most reliable indicate a total of 200,000 violent deaths and a higher figure of 300,000, when including combatants and civilians.

The Iraq war highlights not only the horrendous cost in human life and suffering from a totally needless and senseless politically-motivated war built on a mountain of lies and deception.

It also shows how war-mongering and the exploitation of manufactured threats from foreign “enemies” can be a rewarding business for those from the pro-war lobby.

Lim Teck Ghee’s Another Take is aimed at challenging social orthodoxy. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com