As Trumps admin legitimizes Covid-19’s ‘China lab’
origins Conspiracy Theory, remember Iraqi ‘WMD’
Vial representing Anthrax in the hand of US Secretary of State Colin Powell during his address to the
UN Security Council February 5, 2003 in New York City
By publicly entertaining theories linking the Covid-19 virus to Chinese research laboratories, US President Donald Trump and his administration are setting China up as the witch in a new political witch hunt.
As the United States begins to grapple with the scope and scale of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the national economy, as well as the heavy human toll the disease has taken on its population (676,676 documented cases as of April 17, with 34,784 deaths), it was only a matter of time before politicians began looking for someone to blame. Recently, President Trump has come under increasing scrutiny for what has been depicted as a delayed response to the threat posed by Covid-19, with many critics pointing out that his administration was virtually silent on the issue throughout the month of February, thereby losing precious time that could have been spent mitigating against the spread of the disease.Purposeful non-denial
Rather than confront these allegations, the president and his national security team have instead sought to deflect blame from their shoulders onto China, and in doing so have breathed life into a baseless conspiracy theory that Covid-19 originated in a biological research laboratory located in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the global pandemic brought about by that disease. When asked about reports of the virus escaping from the Wuhan lab, President Trump was somewhat circumspect. “More and more, we’re hearing the story, and we’ll see,” Trump said. “We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened.” Trump was also asked about his conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding the Wuhan laboratory’s role in spreading Covid-19. “I don’t want to discuss what I talked to him about the laboratory,” Trump responded. “I just don’t want to discuss, it’s inappropriate right now.”
The president of the United States possesses the world’s most influential bully pulpit – when he speaks, the world listens. As the leader of the most militarily and economically powerful nation in the world, Trump’s words possess an inherent credibility, affixing an imprimatur that cannot be ignored. In rapid succession, members of the president’s cabinet began to echo Trump’s “concern” about the Wuhan laboratory, thereby breathing life into the story. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that: “On the lab piece… it should be no surprise to you that we’ve taken a keen interest in that, and we’ve had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that.”
General Milley’s concerns were furthered by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “[We] know they have this lab,” Pompeo told the press. “We know that the virus itself did originate in Wuhan. So, all those things come together. There’s still a lot we don’t know, and this is what the president was talking about today. We need to know the answers to these things. The mere fact that we don’t know the answers – that China hasn’t shared the answers – I think is very, very telling.”
The statements made by General Milley and Secretary Pompeo should send a chill down the spine of anyone familiar with the history of what happens when American intelligence is used to promote a baseless theory about a weapon of mass destruction (Trump’s indirect allusions to China weaponizing Covid-19 would place the virus in this category) for political purposes. Pompeo’s words harken back to statements made by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in December 2002 regarding Iraq. Like Colin Powell’s flawed case against Iraq, the conspiracy theory postulated by President Trump and subsequently echoed by General Milley, Secretary Pompeo and others is premised on a chimera – there simply is no factual link between the Wuhan laboratories in question and Covid-19.
Read more: As Trumps admin legitimizes Covid-19’s ‘China lab’ origins Conspiracy Theory, remember Iraqi ‘WMD’