Bipartisan slander of China

Lab leak theory dead, U.S. war drive alive and well

People’s Daily Cartoon - covid lab leak theory
Image: People’s Daily

By Scott Scheffer

Last week, before the capitalist crisis of bank failures crowded it out of the headlines, news of a congressional hearing to further investigate the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic was splashed across the front pages and websites of major U.S. media.

Trumpists, conspiracy theorists and fascists in the House of Representatives, who now drive the program of the Republican Party, led the charade. It was a means to revive the slanders against China and launch a broadside attack on their Democratic Party rivals, too.

Meanwhile, the China hawks in the Democratic Party and the Biden Administration are content to let them carry the ball. If the lies finally get exposed, the Republican Party will take the heat for the deception. But more important to the China hawks in both parties, the whole affair serves to villainize China and soften anti-war sentiment in preparation for an unthinkable U.S. war.

Even before the House hearings issued their summary report that calls the lab leak lie “most likely,” a team of scientists found DNA evidence that shows the virus was spread from bats to other animals and then to humans at the market in Wuhan. Swabs taken from the market soon after the virus began to spread contain DNA of raccoon dogs and DNA of the virus. (Racoon dogs are fox-like animals native to eastern Asia.)

If the House “investigation” had been objective and based on science, the summary report would have been delayed, and the hearing would have taken this evidence into account. The report would have acknowledged that the lab leak theory should be dispensed with and the zoonotic route of the virus is as close to proof as any explanation can be. That didn’t happen because the aim of the hearing was simply to damage China’s reputation as a world leader in the fight against Covid 19.

The congressional hearing was prompted by a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report reasserting the slanders against the lab in Wuhan and claiming a cover-up by China. In spite of no new evidence being included in the report, major U.S. media ran with it, and the House “investigation” followed.

The role of the DOE as supposed investigators of a global health catastrophe shows the falsity of the claims. The DOE gets huge research funds to develop weapons for the Pentagon. Its staff are not virologists, epidemiologists or scientists even remotely connected to health. They monitor and regulate the supply of energy in the U.S. But a lesser known function is that they help the Pentagon by testing, designing, and upgrading the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

Bipartisan slander

In January 2021, a United Nations delegation of scientists and health experts visited China. Their summary report concluded that a lab leak was unlikely and that there should be continued effort to find the route that the virus took – the search for a second mammal that “piggybacked” the virus from bats to humans. But that didn’t stop Biden administration officials from continuing to push the China-bashing that escalated during the Trump era and led to a spike in violent anti-Asian attacks.

In May 2021, President Joe Biden sought more anti-China propaganda by ordering spy agencies to investigate. Six agencies did so. Four concluded the virus was likely to have spread from animals. But the FBI and the DOE leaned in the direction of a lab leak. All six reports were issued at a level of “low confidence.“

The results must have been somewhat disappointing to Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who were by now the new leaders of the growing anti-China demonization. The lab leak theory was kept alive, though, as China hawks latched onto the missing second mammal that spread COVID-19 from bats to humans. The raccoon dog link was still unknown.

Outside the context of the war drive, where logic and science prevail, the lab leak lie has certainly been dealt a death blow by the discovery of the raccoon dog as the intermediate mammal. In fact, the evidence that COVID-19 was spread naturally from bats to raccoon dogs and then to humans is stronger in a sense than the evidence for zoonotic spread of the virus that caused the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s.

In a March 16 Atlantic article, Gigi Gronvall, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said, “I think the evidence is actually more sturdy for COVID than it is for many others.

“The strength of the data might even, in at least one way, best what’s available for SARS-CoV-1: Although scientists have isolated SARS-CoV-1-like viruses from a wet-market-traded mammal host, the palm civet, those samples were taken months after the outbreak began—and the viral variants found weren’t exactly identical to the ones in human patients.

“The versions of SARS-CoV-2 tugged out of several Huanan-market samples, meanwhile, are a dead ringer for the ones that sickened humans with COVID early on.”

Yet there was no outcry for multiple investigations at the time of the SARS outbreak, even though they hadn’t confirmed the intermediate mammal that spread it to humans. The Pentagon was then waging its terrible war against the people of Iraq. The new war drive against China and the uptick in Cold War-style fear-mongering had not yet begun. There was no impetus to deny science and spread antagonistic anti-China slanders.

That has changed. Now the U.S. is patrolling near China’s territorial waters, using the greater portion of the Pentagon’s naval combat forces. That can only spell war. As they try by proxy to destroy Russia, China is also in U.S. imperialism’s crosshairs.

We need a global anti-imperialist uprising. Anti-war forces in the U.S. have the potential and the obligation to stop what would be a catastrophic war before it starts.

Reposted from Struggle – La Lucha

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