by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Crossposted from Sputnik, Apr. 27, 2020
April 28, 2020
The harder they come, the harder they fall, as reggae singer Jimmy Cliff once put it. No nation has come harder than the United States with its history of relentless wars and mass destruction, nauseatingly dressed up with virtuous rhetoric about supposedly leading the free world.
There was a time when the slick American propaganda held the world in thrall as if it were true. Many nations once gullibly looked to the US for leadership. Not any more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed presumed US global power as a hollowed-out caricature. America’s response to the disease is abysmal. It is the world’s leader in the numbers of deaths and infections, unable to cope because of the woeful lack of an organized, functioning public health system. How damning is that?
Another factor in why the US has been hit so badly by the pandemic is due to the parlous conditions for tens of millions of its workers who live on the brink of poverty with little social safety net. That speaks to the real undemocratic nature of American society as opposed to all the arrogant delusions of “exceptionalism”.
This appalling disaster is against a backdrop of Washington spending trillions of dollars on nuclear weapons and maintaining hundreds of thousands of troops in military bases all around the world backed up by legions of warships and warplanes.
“The global coronavirus crisis… [has] quickly brought the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the world to its knees,” according to the US magazine, Politico.
US presidential historian Douglas Brinkley is quoted by Politico as saying:
“The United States was once known for its can-do culture. We built the Panama Canal and we put a man on the moon. And now we can’t get a swab or a face mask or a gown and we have no real chain of command.”
“We are not leading in the pandemic response, we are trailing other countries by a long shot. This is a crippling blow to America’s prestige around the world.”
China, South Korea, Germany, Russia and other nations, even US-sanctioned Iran and Cuba, have been much more effective in managing the COVID-19 crisis than the US. Why? Well, simply because they are not broke like the US is from its monstrous militarism and imperial overstretch. (Merely printing money is no solution.)
The calamity of the disease unfolding in the US is proof that its presumed global empire is all washed-up. Fitting the end of era mood, the country is being “led” by a president who thinks that injecting household bleach into the human body could be a cure for the virus. Trump increasingly sounds like mad Roman emperors Nero or Caligula.
American economist Joseph Stiglitz says the real state of US society is akin to a “third world country”. In an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper, he commented:
“The numbers turning to food banks are just enormous and beyond the capacity of them to supply. It is like a third world country… In the advanced world, the US is one of the countries with the poorest health overall and the greatest health inequality.”
The upshot is that the United States is doomed to fail. Its moral corruption – festering over many decades – has finally reached a fatal level whereby profligacy for militarism and corporate bailouts has far outstripped what the rulers are willing to provide for meeting the basic health needs of the vast majority of working people.
This is isn’t just about President Trump. It encompasses the whole two-party charade that is a rubber-stamp for big business and militarism. Democrat contender Joe Biden will offer nothing better than the Republican buffoon. Because US capitalism is rotten to the core from its corporate cronyism and warmongering habits to feed the system.
Like past empires that imploded, the US ruling elite doesn’t see what’s coming because they and their media class are mired in their own echo chamber of vanity-propaganda and petty squabbling.
But the virus pandemic serves as a moment of empirical evidence showing that the US is a colossus with feet of clay.
The country is heading for an economic collapse on par with the Great Depression, according to Stiglitz. With an unemployment rate touching 30 per cent – over 26 million out of work – and federal handouts that are peanuts in the scale of things, the “American nightmare” is only just beginning.
The endemic, systematic corruption of US capitalist power means that it can’t save itself. There will be no reality-check for the rulers because they have long ago lost all sense of reality.
The reality-check may, however, come from the millions of citizens who realise that their nation has been turned into nothing more than a decadent empire.
U.S. Concocting Intel to Frame China for COVID-19 Crisis
by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Crossposted from Strategic Culture Foundation, Apr. 25, 2020
April 28, 2020
China’s communist leaders have blood on their hands, so say U.S. hawks. Chinaphobes in Congress and a battalion of media pundits are demanding compensation from Beijing for the spiraling death toll and economic destruction incurred by the United States.
Already U.S. states have begun litigation to sue China. Rightwing think-tanks like the Hudson Institute are projecting that China is liable to pay out trillions of dollars for American losses over the Covid-19 pandemic.
The chorus of “Yellow Peril” fever goes beyond financial retribution right up to creating a casus belli against China. It is no coincidence that U.S. warships have stepped up provocative maneuvers in the South China Sea this week.
President Donald Trump and his top envoy Mike Pompeo have weighed in to point the finger at China for pandemic mayhem hitting the U.S. China is being set up as the scapegoat to “explain” why the supposedly most powerful nation in the world has been left so ravaged by a virus.
The “blame China” narrative turns on two sub-plots. It is claimed in U.S. media that the Chinese authorities knew a lot more than they let on they did about the potential harm from the epidemic when it first emerged in the city of Wuhan in December. The insinuation is that China (and the World Health Organization) engaged in a cover-up about the scale of the disease, thereby putting other nations in danger through misinformation.
The second sub-plot in the “blame China” agenda is that a Chinese virology laboratory leaked out the deadly virus, either by accident or as part of biowarfare program. That again implies a China cover-up. Both sub-plots fit the slogan taken up by Trump supporters and anti-China hawks more generally: “China Lied, People Died”.
In both cases, however, it is more than plausible that the media agitation is information warfare to scapegoat China. What is happening here this: a disastrous current situation in America is being retrospectively “explained” with false U.S. intelligence claims that seek to shift blame on to China, and, crucially, distract from questions about inherent systematic failure in Washington.
On the “China knew more but didn’t let on” claim, the primer for this theme came from an ABC report published on April 9. It quotes anonymous U.S. sources as saying that the Pentagon’s disease experts were briefing the White House and senior national security officials about a new contagion sweeping through China’s Wuhan region as far back as November.
As ABC reported with convenient sinister implication: “Those analyses said China’s leadership knew the epidemic was out of control even as it kept such crucial information from foreign governments and public health agencies.”
The basic problem is “those analyses” referred to by ABC’s anonymous sources are only alleged to have happened. Where’s the evidence, transcripts, memos and so on? An open mind should ask the question: was such an intel assessment even formulated?
ABC’s report took off in the pundit-sphere even though it updated its report with a disclaimer from the Pentagon denying that any such assessment existed. Fair enough, maybe the Pentagon is mischievously disowning. There again, more likely, ABC is being played by its anonymous sources to concoct an anti-China narrative?
A few other contradictions are the following: Mark Esper, the Pentagon chief, subsequently told ABC in an interview that he didn’t know anything about any such alleged contagion warning which he had supposedly received back in November or December. Esper’s cack-handed tone suggests he simply did not receive any such briefing, rather than any sort of smart sophistry on his part.
Furthermore, if the alleged Pentagon intelligence warning of a new contagion was presumably circulated in Presidential Daily Briefs, why was Trump voicing complacency about the potential pandemic during January and February? Indeed, why was Trump on record for praising China’s efforts at controlling the outbreak during this crucial period if he had been warned, allegedly, about the pandemic and the implied cover-up by Beijing?
Here’s another amusing cause for doubt. The Pentagon’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) – the agency which purportedly warned of a contagion in China back in November – is officially tasked with detecting diseases which “pose serious risk to U.S. forces” in Asia and internationally. Strangely enough, the NCMI didn’t seem to know about outbreaks of COVID-19 onboard U.S. aircraft carriers deployed in Asia-Pacific which only came to light when navy crews publicly complained – yet we are led to believe the same agency knew what was going down in the obscure environs of Wuhan, even before Chinese authorities knew about the virus.
The second sub-plot is the alleged escape of the virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The WIV is an internationally respected disease research center, which has partnered with French and other governments’ researchers. It operates at the highest international safety standards, yet somehow the WIV supposedly let a deadly virus escape. There is an added insinuation that the virus was man-made as part of a scientific program. President Trump said last week that Washington “was looking into it” and hinted that the release may even have been deliberate.
This is a shoddy conspiracy theory based on zero evidence, as documented by investigative journalist Max Blumenthal. The claim of “lab release” has been doing the rounds in dodgy rightwing U.S. media like the Washington Times for months. It has recently been elevated by equally dodgy reporting in the Washington Post that has all the hallmarks of an intel psy-ops.
The World Health Organization, as well as a vast body of scientific opinion, concludes that the Covid-19 virus (also known as SARS-CoV-2) is of natural origin emanating from wildlife, and that it is neither man-made nor manipulated in a lab. Indeed, many eminent scientists in the field of virology have condemned “conspiracy theories” claiming the virus came out of a lab as “pure baloney”.
What this all boils down to is an attempt by American anti-China hawks and elements of U.S. intelligence to retrospectively construct a narrative which lays the blame for the Covid-19 global crisis on Beijing. Given the abysmal failure of the U.S. to mitigate this crisis – exposing the deep flaws of its capitalistic society – the temptation is all the stronger for Washington to jump on the bandwagon scapegoating China.
Considering Trump’s re-election hopes are at stake, it is not surprising he is clambering into the driving seat of this bandwagon.
But concocting intel to fit a conclusion is a precarious pursuit. It has disturbing resonance with the Iraqi WMD intel manufacturing and media indulgence which led to disastrous war.
Is U.S. power so shameless that it would prefer war rather than face public accountability for its own criminal complacency and neglect? You better believe it.
Finian Cunningham, is a columnist at the Strategic Culture Foundation, Sputnik, and a Writer on Dandelion Salad. He can be reached at email@example.com.
From the archives:
Michael Hudson: US Coronavirus Bailout Scam is $6 Trillion Giveaway to Wall Street + How The US Makes Countries Pay For Its Wars: Economics of American Imperialism
Why Trump Scapegoats China, by Finian Cunningham
Covid-19 is Bringing the Vulnerable U.S. Empire Towards Collapse, by Rainer Shea
John Pilger: Can We Trust Our Governments In What They Say To Us About Coronavirus? No, We Can’t, Absolutely Not!
Abby Martin: US Empire Exploits COVID-19 For More War
Sick and Sadistic: World Fights COVID-19 Amid U.S. Sanctions, by Finian Cunningham
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Finian excels; so cogent and incisive.
How will the US rise from the ashes of this catastrophic and egregious firestorm of self-induced immolation? I am confident the wise and the best will find a way to reinvent the United States, restore a true sense of civic virtue & genuine leadership, to prevail against these dire odds.
This unfolding tragedy is a mighty tough lesson in political hubris, and the grim consequences of unrestrained greed and stupidity. It’s been a long time coming, but this change will kindle renewed confidence in a future worth inventing & investing in ~ an American society that can mutate and mature and triumph over present adversity, to raise the human spirit to greater heights of authentic excellence….and, emergent ecosystemic, pluralistic understanding.
Once there is sufficient integrity of (collective) will, the better way will naturally reveal itself. The truth may be hard, but it is the only necessary alternative when all illusion has been dispelled.
So very optimistic, David. Hope you’ve been well.
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