Pentagon germ warfare campaign to smear China kills thousands in the Philippines

Thousands died due to US military lies about China’s COVID vaccine
Thousands died due to US military lies about China’s COVID vaccine.

By Chris Fry

On June 14, the Reuters News Agency released an exposé of a secret Pentagon program to defame the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by using lies about China’s anti-Covid vaccine and other medical material. This heinous campaign targeted the civilian population of one of the few U.S. imperialist “allies” in the Global South, the Philippines:

The clandestine operation has not been previously reported. It aimed to sow doubt about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and other life-saving aid that was being supplied by China, a Reuters investigation found. Through phony internet accounts meant to impersonate Filipinos, the military’s propaganda efforts morphed into an anti-vax campaign. Social media posts decried the quality of face masks, test kits and the first vaccine that would become available in the Philippines – China’s Sinovac inoculation.

The Reuters report states that in 2019, before Covid had taken full effect, Trump’s Secretary of Defense signed a secret order that “paved the way for the launch of the U.S. military propaganda campaign. “

The order elevated the Pentagon’s competition with China and Russia to the priority of active combat, enabling commanders to sidestep the State Department when conducting psyops against those adversaries. The Pentagon spending bill passed by Congress that year also explicitly authorized the military to conduct clandestine influence operations against other countries, even “outside of areas of active hostilities.”

In spring 2020, special-ops commander Braga turned to a cadre of psychological-warfare soldiers and contractors in Tampa to counter Beijing’s COVID efforts. Colleagues say Braga was a longtime advocate of increasing the use of propaganda operations in global competition. In trailers and squat buildings at a facility on Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, U.S. military personnel and contractors would use anonymous accounts on X, Facebook and other social media to spread what became an anti-vax message. The facility remains the Pentagon’s clandestine propaganda factory.

The Philippines became the Pentagon’s first target, as its then President Duterte threatened to “cancel a key pact that allows the U.S. military to maintain legal jurisdiction over American troops stationed in the country.” The Philippines itself had been a U.S. colony for 50 years, and the U.S. military had massacred thousands of Filipinos struggling for freedom.

Duterte said in a July 2020 speech he had made “a plea” to [President] Xi that the Philippines be at the front of the line as China rolled out vaccines. He vowed in the same speech that the Philippines would no longer challenge Beijing’s aggressive expansion in the South China Sea, upending a key security understanding Manila had long held with Washington.

From a Tampa command base, soldiers and contractors set up some 300 dummy accounts, with posts stating that the Chinese vaccine Sinovac was ineffective and even dangerous, that the masks and clothing that was offered was also defective:

Trump’s “Warp Speed” was an “America First” Covid vaccine program. The U.S. government paid Big Pharma for its use in the U.S., which swallowed up most of the doses. The companies could charge poor countries whatever they wanted for the remaining supply.

China, on the other hand, made large quantities of its Sinovac vaccine as well as masks and other medical equipment available at low or no cost to many countries in the Global South, including the Philippines. To prevent any goodwill for China from this, the mad generals set up this vaccine misinformation tracking campaign.

The Pentagon’s campaign did appear to succeed in persuading large numbers of Filipino people to forego taking the Sinovac vaccine, despite Duterte threats to arrest people if they failed to take it.:

According to Reuters:

Only 2.1 million of its 114 million citizens were fully vaccinated – far short of the government’s target of 70 million.  By the time Duterte spoke, COVID cases exceeded 1.3 million, and almost 24,000 Filipinos had died from the virus. The difficulty in vaccinating the population contributed to the worst death rate in the region.

Pentagon expands campaign to Muslim countries.

With this deadly “success” in the Philippines, the mad generals in Washington designed a new vaccine misinformation campaign, targeting Muslim countries in Central Asia and the Middle East:

In regions beyond Southeast Asia, senior officers in the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations across the Middle East and Central Asia, launched their own version of the COVID psyop, three former military officials told Reuters.

Although the Chinese vaccines were still months from release, controversy roiled the Muslim world over whether the vaccines contained pork gelatin and could be considered “haram,” or forbidden under Islamic law. Sinovac has said that the vaccine was “ manufactured free of porcine materials.”

The Pentagon campaign sought to intensify fears about injecting a pig derivative. As part of an internal investigation at X, the social media company used IP addresses and browser data to identify more than 150 phony accounts that were operated from Tampa by U.S. Central Command and its contractors, according to an internal X document reviewed by Reuters.

The Pentagon’s anti-vax campaign continued through 2020 and months into the Biden administration until it was terminated. But its existence was not revealed until the Reuters article on June 14 of this year.

It should be noted that while Newsweek and USA Today have posted stories using the Reuter’s report, imperialism’s flagship media outlets the New York Times and  the Washington Post have yet to write anything on it.

We were desperate.

Of course, physicians and public health officials were outraged upon learning about the Pentagon’s anti-vax campaign. A June 15 USA Today article states:

“Why did you do it when people were dying? We were desperate,” said Dr. Nina Castillo-Carandang, a former adviser to the World Health Organization and Philippines government during the pandemic. “We don’t have our own vaccine capacity,” she noted, and the U.S. propaganda effort “contributed even more salt into the wound.”

Filipinos were unwilling to trust China’s Sinovac, which first became available in the country in March 2021, said Esperanza Cabral, who served as health secretary under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Cabral said she had been unaware of the U.S. military’s secret operation.

“I’m sure that there are lots of people who died from COVID who did not need to die from COVID,” she said.

U.S. public health officials also condemned this campaign:

Briefed on the Pentagon’s secret anti-vax campaign by Reuters, some American public health experts also condemned the program, saying it put civilians in jeopardy for potential geopolitical gain. An operation meant to win hearts and minds endangered lives, they said.

“I don’t think it’s defensible,” said Daniel Lucey, an infectious disease specialist at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. “I’m extremely dismayed, disappointed and disillusioned to hear that the U.S. government would do that,” said Lucey, a former military physician who assisted in the response to the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Crime and no punishment

None of the Pentagon military leaders involved in the anti-vax deception campaign have been punished in any way. The Pentagon spokesperson offered no apology, telling Reuters:

A senior Defense Department official acknowledged the U.S. military engaged in secret propaganda to disparage China’s vaccine in the developing world, but the official declined to provide details.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the U.S. military “uses a variety of platforms, including social media, to counter those malign influence attacks aimed at the U.S., allies, and partners.” 

[T]he Pentagon’s clandestine propaganda efforts are set to continue. In an unclassified strategy document last year, top Pentagon generals wrote that the U.S. military could undermine adversaries such as China and Russia using “disinformation spread across social media, false narratives disguised as news, and similar subversive activities [to] weaken societal trust by undermining the foundations of government.”

And what about the corporate contractor that worked hand-in-hand with the Pentagon on this deadly anti-vax campaign? Reuters reports:

And in February, the contractor that worked on the anti-vax campaign – General Dynamics IT – won a $493 million contract. Its mission: to continue providing clandestine influence services for the military.

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