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Chinese Influence in East Africa: Transcultural Connection as Foreign Policy Spur

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Chinese influence in East Africa is a topic of growing debate and concern for Western nations and allies. In fact, this purported growing Chinese influence in the region continues to expand as a prominent issue for United States (U.S.). The desire for the U.S. to protect its national interests in the region is apparent. Specifically, this is a growing concern for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). CJTF-HOA is strategically located in Djibouti on Camp Lemonnier and has a diverse mission that includes conducting security force assistance, executing military engagement, providing force protection, and military support to regional counter-extremist organization operations with the goal of supporting allied regional efforts, ensuring regional access and freedom of movement, and protecting U.S. interests (CJTF-HOA 2018). CJTF-HOA also maintains an area of responsibility (AOR) that covers the East African nations of Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda.

CJTF-HOA respects the sovereignty of each of its AOR countries, even though many of its operations and engagements have as a major goal to maintain influence in the region. The task force is not the only group to partner with the various AOR countries: Chinese financial aid, diplomacy, and involvement has been heightened with the establishment of a Chinese Support Base just miles away from CJTF-HOA’s Headquarters. The Chinese base, built for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), has direct access to the Doraleh Multipurpose Port, a strategic maritime chokepoint on the Gulf of Aden into the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. This development begs the question: why did Chinese leadership choose Djibouti to build the first Chinese overseas base? Was this decision part of a larger strategic plan to increase influence within East Africa?

By financial figures, Chinese aid and investment in Africa has skyrocketed over the last decade. Perhaps this increase is part of the Chinese push for outgoing investment, termed the “Going out” or “Going global” strategy. According to the China Africa Research Initiative, between 2009 and 2012, “China’s direct investment in Africa grew at an annual rate of 20.5%.” Moreover, a white paper published by the Chinese State Council in 2013 indicated: China has become the largest trade partner of Africa, Africa has become a major importer of Chinese goods, Africa is the second largest construction project market (overseas), and Africa is China’s fourth largest investment location (China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation 2013).

China has also enhanced cooperation in agricultural production, both for importation and exportation. According to the Chinese State Council, “The Chinese government attaches great importance to its mutually beneficial agricultural cooperation with Africa and works hard to help African countries turn resource advantages into developmental ones and sustainably develop their agricultural capacities.” (China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation 2013) Moreover, the Chinese State Council indicated the significance of capacity building throughout the continent. Of note, the white paper highlighted that China aids African nations while avoiding any demands for changing political conditions. To further this point, the State Council demonstrates this example by providing support to nations such as South Sudan, Malawi, Djibouti, Guinea, and Togo, easing water issues and improving the conditions of local facilities. (China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation 2013)Redefining its focus in East Africa, China has concluded at least 15 bilateral deals and has even forgiven enormous sums of debt.

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

The desire for a continued and growing Chinese partnership in Africa is visible through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit. During the 2018 FOCAC summit, the Chinese Premier offered a total of 60 billion dollars in trade and economic initiatives. The funds will be allocated to projects aligned to the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative, covering telecommunications, construction of roads, bridges and sea ports, energy, and human capacity development. The funding is broken down into several parts where 15 billion is categorized as government grants, 15 billion as interest free loans, 20 billion of credit lines, and 5 billion for financing imports from Africa. (Dube, 2016)FOCAC was formed in 2009 to establish closer Chinese ties and partnership with African nations. This strategy has been seemingly successful as Sino-African trade is estimated at 170 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, increasing drastically from only 10 billion dollars in 2000 according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. (KTLA 2018)

As China’s Belt and Road initiative starts to take hold in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, it might seem that its sole permanent military footprint outside of sovereign China may be getting overlooked by Beijing. However, China has now preserved a logistical hub exactly where it needed it.  China’s role as a resource extractor will almost certainly continue: China now not only has a large workforce in nearly every East African nation, it also has the ability to remove its gains one ocean-going barge at a time from its deep-water port in Doraleh.

The Chinese Military in East Africa

In 2014, Beijing confirmed that it would build their first military base overseas, a PLAN logistics support base at Doraleh, Djibouti, thereby raising tensions for Western nations and allies in the region and abroad. The U.S., France, Italy, and Japan all have bases in the rather small East African nation. There are various assessments as to why China opened the base in Djibouti. There is likely not a single, one-dimensional answer, but multiple factors that made this location advantageous for this investment. First, Djibouti is a strategic location. The Bab el-Mandeb strait is only 18 miles wide at its narrowest point and is of vital strategic interest, as it connects to the Suez Canal. The strategic importance of this location is no different for China than for the U.S. According to the Chinese State News Agency, Xinhua, the establishment of the base ensures “China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia. (Al Jazeera 2017)In exchange for the PLAN’s use of its port, Djibouti’s government requested that China assist in the development of military capabilities, including patrol boats and airplanes, as well as the establishment of a civilian maritime complex. (Dube 2016)Interestingly, this construction of China’s first overseas base is a departure from their non-interference policy in African government affairs. Similarly, China has increased the number of soldiers it provides to the United Nations and African peace mission, notably increasing numbers in South Sudan. Aligning with Chinese interests, South Sudan is a major exporter of oil to China and perhaps catalyzed China’s shift away from their previous non-interference policy. (Council on Foreign Relations)

The military base will allow China to provide protection for its citizens in Djibouti and the greater Horn of Africa region, an ability that China currently lacks in other African nations. However, “experts warn that by relying too much on China’s infrastructure projects, Djibouti could become trapped and enter a state of quasi-dependence on Beijing.” (Dube 2016) While this warning heralds potential implications for Djibouti, this dependence could be a vital component of Chinese strategy. At the current juncture, over 80 percent of Doralehport traffic comes from Ethiopia, which has no coastline. Chinese investments, including the commissioning of the railway between Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Djibouti, will strengthen the position of Djibouti as one of East Africa’s largest logistics gateways. By significantly increasing the share of port activities in Djibouti’s economy, Chinese projects will increase Djibouti’s vulnerability and dependence. However, as Ethiopia and Eritrea continue to smooth previously tense relations, Ethiopia is seeking to utilize Eritrea rather than Djibouti as a logistics hub. This potential move no longer only has implications for Djibouti, but China will now likely be a major player in the steering of this decision, as the port’s profitability has various implications for China’s continued success in the region.

Culture as a determinant of foreign policy

As one analyzes China’s increased involvement in East Africa, its culture is important and certainly impacts the evolution of its African foreign policy. According to Yaqing (2012), four major themes of Chinese culture are: contextuality, correlativity, complementarity, and changeability.  Yaqing describes contextuality as looking at decisions as a matter of context in the environment without thinking about the individual. Of note, contextuality begets the “shi” assumption. According to Yaqing (2012), “For policy makers, shi is judgment regarding the timing, the themes, and the trends within the context.” In a 2018 Beijing declaration at FOCAC, the following demonstrates how contextuality shapes China’s vision for increased partnership:

We believe that China and Africa are a community with a shared future. China is the largest developing country. Africa is the continent with the most developing countries. Sharing weal and woe, the Chinese and African peoples have forged a deep friendship rooted in our similar historical experiences, development tasks, and political aspirations. We agree to strengthen collective dialogue, enhance traditional friendship, deepen practical cooperation, and work together toward an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.

The next concept, correlativity, notes that all things relate to one another. This type of thinking is visible in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Using the aforementioned excerpt from the Beijing declaration at FOCAC, this diplomacy and fostering of a positive interconnection between 53 African nations is apparent. The choice of words like “deep friendship,” “similar historical experiences,” “collective dialogue,” and the phrase “stronger China-Africa community with a shared future” speaks to the collectiveness of nations to achieve shared goals through cooperation.

The third element, complementarity, describes the world as composed of two opposites. These opposites, the thesis and anti-thesis, “work as opposing forces to complete a transformation into this new synthesis.” (Yaqing 2012)While the Western world may remain wary of Chinese involvement in East Africa, this anxiety does not inherently wield conflict. In fact, China’s goal for stability and increased capacity building aligns with the American CJTF-HOA’s purported goals in the region.

Finally, changeability is a concept that contends that “seemingly irrelevant or even opposing objects can change, turn into each other, and become part of a combined whole.” (Yaqing 2012)It is this type of mindset that could explain why the Chinese started to invest and engage in Africa when other near-peers would not. They saw the promise of natural resources and the determination of the African nations to open up and do more globally.  The Chinese theory that everything constantly changes and that “misfortune can be a forerunner for fortune” lends itself neatly into the current East African sphere of politics and foreign policy changes. (Yaqing 2012) One could hypothesize that the Chinese cultural outlook on change, coupled with the ongoing change afoot in the region, created a perfect situation for the current Chinese foreign policy expansion in East Africa.  This has been shown by the amount of effort put into the recent FOCAC symposium by the African Union nations and also in the amount of money the Chinese are willing to invest into the area. The culture of any nation plays a role in determining policy. Some cultures drive initiatives and actions more aggressively than others. In this case, China is the nation that arguably has found an ability to successfully tie to its culture to the cultures of the East African region. If it continues to be successful in promoting this transcultural connection, then China will likely continue to outpace and outperform the United States in this critical global region.

Ecatarina Garcia is an Instructor in the Air Force’s Intelligence Officer Course where she instructs initial skills training on topics such as Signals Intelligence, Cyber, Human Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) foundations and applied ISR to the Air Force’s newest Intelligence Officer students. She has been a Network Fusion Analyst for the Air Force for 13 years and has supported various operations concerning Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Russia. She is currently a doctoral student in the American Military University’s inaugural Global Security and Strategic Intelligence doctoral program.

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Security of nuclear materials in India

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Terrorism

The author is of the view that nuclear security is lax in India. More so, because of the 123 Agreement and sprawling  nuclear installations in several states. The thieves and scrap dealers even dare to advertise online sale of radioactive uranium. India itself has reported several incidents of nuclear thefts to the international bodies. The author wonders why India’s security lapses remain out of international focus. Views expressed are personal.  

Amid raging pandemic in the southern Indian state of Maharashtra, the anti-terrorism squad arrested  (May 6, 20210) two persons (Jagar Jayesh Pandya and Abu Tahir Afzal hussain Choudhry) for attempting to sell seven kilograms  of highly-radioactive muranium for offered price of  about Rs. 21 crore. The “gentlemen” had uncannily advertised  the proposed sale online.. As such, the authorities initially dismissed the advertisement as just another hoax. They routinely detained the “sellers-to-be” and forwarded a sample of their ware to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.  They were shocked when the centre reported that “the material was natural uranium”.  As such the squad was compelled to book the duo under India’s Atomic Energy Act, 1962 at Nagpur police station (Explained: ATS seizes 7 kg uranium worth  Rs. 21 crore from a scrap dealer…Indian Express May 7, 2021).

Not a unique incident

The event, though shocking, is  is not  one of its kind. Earlier, in 2016 also, two persons were arrested by Thane (Maharashtra) police while they were trying to sell eight to nine kilograms of depleted uranium for Rs. 24 crore.  It is surmised that sale of uranium by scrap dealers in India is common. But, such events rarely come in limelight. According to Anil Kakodar, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, `Factories using uranium as a counterweight in their machines are mandated to contact the Atomic Energy agencies and return uranium to them. They however resort to short cuts and sell the entire machine with uranium in scrap’.

India media scarcely report such incidents. However, Indian government sometimes reports such incidents to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to meet disclosure requirements. According to international media reports (February 25, 2004), India reported 25 cases of “missing” or “stolen” radio-active material from its labs to the IAEA.  Fifty-two per cent of the cases were attributed to “theft” and 48% to the “missing mystery”.  India claimed to have recovered lost material in twelve of total 25 cases.  It however admitted that 13 remaining cases remained mysterious.

India’s reports such incidents to the IAEA to portray itself as a “responsible state”.  It is hard to believe that radio-active material could be stolen from nuclear labs without operators’ connivance.

Nine computers, belonging to India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation establishment at Metcalfe House, New Delhi, were stolen. India communicated 25 cases of ‘stolen or missing’ uranium to the IAEA. In different incidents, uranium in varying forms and quantities continue to be recovered from scrap dealers and others by Indian authorities. The recoveries include fifty-seven pounds of uranium in rod form, eight kilograms in granular form, two hundred grams in semi-processed form, besides twenty-five kilograms in radioactive form, stolen from the Bibi Cancer Hospital.

Too, the ‘thieves’ stole three cobalt switches, worth Rs. 1.5 million, from Tata Steel Company laboratory at Jamshedpur (Jharkhand). A shipment of beryllium (worth $24 million), was caught in Vilnius, on its way to North Korea. Taiwanese authorities had intercepted a ship carrying dual-use aluminum oxide from India to North Korea. A New Jersey-based Indian engineer Sitaram Ravi Mahidevan was indicted for having bypassed US export procedures to send blue-prints of solenoid-operated valves to North Korea.

We know that the Taiwanese authorities had intercepted a ship, carrying dual-use aluminum oxide from India to North Korea.  The oxide is an essential ingredient of rocket casings and is, as such, prohibited for export to “rogue” countries.

Pakistan bashing

Despite recurrent incidents of theft of uranium or other sensitive material from indiandian nuclear labs, the IAEA never initiated a thorough probe into lax security environment in government and private nuclear labs in india. However, the international media has a penchant for creating furore over uncorroborated nuclear lapses in Pakistan. The Time magazine article ‘Merchant of Menace’, had reported that some uranium hexafluoride cylinders were missing from the Kahuta Research Laboratories.  Pakistan’ then information minister and foreign-office spokesman had both refuted the allegation.  Masood Khan (foreign office) told reporters, `The story is a rehash of several past stories’.

Similarly,  Professor Shaun Gregory in his report ‘The Security of Nuclear Weapons’ contends that those guarding about 120 nuclear-weapon sites, mostly in northern and western parts of Pakistan, have fragmented loyalties. As such, they are an easy prey to religious extremists.

Frederick W. Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon, also draw a gloomy portrait of the situation in Pakistan. In their article, published in The New York Times, dated November 18, 2007, they predicted that extremists would take over, if rule of law collapses in Pakistan. Those sympathetic with the Taliban and al-Qaeda may convert Pakistan into a state sponsor of terrorism. They pointed to Osama bin Laden’s meeting with Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, former engineers of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission (having no bomb-making acumen).

They claimed that U.S. military experts and intelligence officials had explored strategies for securing Pakistan’s nuclear assets. One option was to isolate the country’s nuclear bunkers. Doing so would require saturating the area, surrounding the bunkers, with tens of thousands of high-powered mines, dropped from air, packed with anti-tank and anti-personnel munitions. The panacea, suggested by them, was that Pakistan’s nuclear material should be seized and stashed in some “safe” place like New Mexico.

Rebuttal

The fact is that the pilloried Pakistani engineers had no knowledge of weaponisation (“When the safest is not safe enough,” The Defence Journal -Pakistan), pages 61-63). The critics mysteriously failed to mention that Pakistan is a party to the UN Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials. The steps taken by Pakistan to protect its nuclear materials and installations conform to international standards. The National Command Authority, created on February 2, 2000, has made fail-safe arrangements to control development and deployment of strategic nuclear forces. Pakistan’s nuclear regulatory authority had taken necessary steps for safety, security, and accountability of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, facilities, and materials even before 9/11 incident. These controls include functional equivalent of the two-man rule and permissive action links (PALs). The indigenously-developed PALs are bulwarks against inadvertent loss of control, or accidental use of weapons. So far, there has been no security lapse in any of Pakistan’s nuclear establishments.

Abdul Mannan, in his paper titled “Preventing Nuclear Terrorism in Pakistan: Sabotage of a Spent Fuel Cask or a Commercial Irradiation Source in Transport”, has analysed various ways in which acts of nuclear terrorism could occur in Pakistan (quoted in “Pakistan’s Nuclear Future: Worries beyond War”). He has fairly reviewed Pakistan’s vulnerability to nuclear terrorism through hypothetical case studies. He concludes that the threat of nuclear terrorism in Pakistan is a figment of imagination, rather than a real possibility.

There are millions of radioactive sources used worldwide in various applications. Only a few thousand sources, including Co-60, Cs-137, Ir-192, Sr-90, Am-241, Cf-252, Pu-238, and RA-226 are considered a security risk. The Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has enforced a mechanism of strict measures for administrative and engineering control over radioactive sources from cradle to grave. It conducts periodic inspections and physical verifications to ensure security of the sources. The Authority has initiated a Five-Year National Nuclear-Safety-and-Security-Action Plan to establish a more robust nuclear-security regime. It has established a training centre and an emergency-coordination centre, besides deploying radiation-detection-equipment at each point of nuclear-material entry in Pakistan, supplemented by vehicle/pedestrian portal monitoring equipment where needed.

Fixed detectors have been installed at airports, besides carrying out random inspection of personnel luggage. All nuclear materials are under strict regulatory control right from import until their disposal.

Concluding remarks

Nuclear controls in India and the USA are not more stringent than Pakistan’s. It is not understood why the media does not deflect their attention to the fragile nuclear-security environment in India. It is unfortunate that the purblind critics fail to see the gnawing voids in India’s nuclear security.

The ‘research work’ by well-known scholars reflects visceral hatred against Pakistan. The findings in fresh ‘magnum opuses’ are a re-hash or amalgam of the presumptions and pretensions in earlier-published ‘studies’. It is time that the West deflected its attention to India where movements of nuclear materials, under the 123 expansion plan, are taking place between nuclear-power plants sprawling across different states.

Above all, will the international media and the IAEA look into open market uranium sales in India.

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Biological warfare: A global security threat

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Biological warfare is not a new concept in arena of international politics as it has been used as a tool to sabotage enemy in previous centuries. Biological weapons are a sub-category of Weapons of Mass destruction (WMDs) in which there is a deliberate use of micro-organisms like pathogens and toxins to cause disease or death in humans, livestock and yields.Form its usage in 14th century by Mongols to its usage by imperial Japan during 1930s-40s against Chinese, it has always been a threat to global security. The evolution of bio-weapons can be broadly categorized into four phases; first phase includes the post WWII developments with the evident use of chlorine and phosgene in Ypres.The second phase was marked by the use of nerve agents like tabun, cholinesterase inhibitor and anthrax and plague bombs. The initiation of third phase was marked by the use of biological weapons in Vietnam war during 1970s where deadly agents like Agent orange were used. 4th and last phase include the time of biological and technological revolution where genetic engineering techniques were at their peak. Traditionally they have been used in wartime in order to defeat enemy but with the emergence of violent non-state actors, bioterrorism is another potential threat to the security of states. There are certain goals that are associated with the use of biological weapons. Firstly, it is purposed to hit to economy of the targeted country, breaking down government authority and have a psychological effect on masses of the targeted population. It is also a kind of psychological warfare as it may hit a smaller number of people but leaves impact on wider audience through intimidation and spreading fear. It also creates natural circumstances under which a population is induced with disease without revealing the actual perpetrator.

With the advancement in genetic engineering techniques more lethal biological weapons are being produced everyday around the world. Countries which are economically deprived are more likely to pursue such goals as it is difficult for them to go for heavy military sophistication keeping into consideration their poor economic conditions. Biological weapons serve as inexpensive tool for developing countries to address their issues in prevailing international security environment. During the initial decades of cold war, united states of America (USA) and Soviet Union went for acquiring tons of biological weapons alongside nuclear proliferation.

 The quest for these weapons reduced during 1970s with the formation of Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). This convention was presented in 1972 before countries and finally came into force in 1975 with 150 countries who signed this convention and 140 countries who fully joined this treaty. This convention prohibits any biological weaponization in order to promote peace and stability around the world. But this convention has obvious defects as it is unable to address many issues like it doesn’t prevents itself the use of biological weapons but just reinforces 1925 Geneva Protocol which forbids the use of bio-weapons. Convention allows ‘defensive research’ to which there are many objections that what is incorporated into this defensive research. It is non-binding to the signatory states and in case if countries are proliferating it lacks the effective oversight techniques to look after them either they are pursuing these biological weapons capabilities or not. Since the inception of this convention till now it has clearly failed in stopping the countries from acquisition as well as usage of these weapons. This is evident as there were many cases after 1975 where these weapons were used as in 1980s when Iraq used mustard gas, sarin and tabun against Iran and many other ethnic groups inside Iran. Another incident which was highlighted was Sarine nerve gas attack in Tokyo subway system leaving thousands injured and many got killed. In post-cold war era, however, the number of these attacks reduced as much attention was shifted to terrorism after 9/11 attacks with the change in global security architecture.

“Anthrax letters” in post 9/11 attacks revealed yet another dimension of bio-weapons which was the threat of bioterrorism from non-state actors. US became a victim of bio-terrorism when in 2001 a powder was transported through letters containing bacterium called anthrax infecting many people. One purpose which terrorists have is to make general masses feel as if they are unsafe in the hands of their government which can be best achieved through the use of these weapons. The fact that biological weapons are cheaper and more devastating than conventional weapons make it more likely for biological weapons to be used by terrorists. Also, the fact that they are easy to hide and transport and a smaller quantity can leave long-lasting impacts on larger population makes these weapons more appealing.  Now that we are facing a global pandemic in the form of COVID-19 which according to some conspiracy theories is a biological weapon pose even more serious challenge to the international security in coming decades. There is no such scientific research which proves Corona Virus as a biological weapon but the realization here is that whether or not it is a biological weapon but world was least prepared for it. Not only the developing countries but also developed states suffered more despite having enormous medical infrastructure. The fact that there has been decline in the incidents related to bioterrorism should never let us think that there is no possibility of such attacks. The fact that world failed to handle Covid-19 puts a question mark on the credibility of measures if we are faced with bio-terrorism. The medical community as well as general population needs to develop an understanding of how to respond if there is such attack. At the international level there is a dire need to develop some strong norms which discourage the development and use of such weapons in any capacity.    

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The ‘Post-Covid-19 World’ Will Never Come

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On May 3rd, the New York Times bannered “Reaching ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Unlikely in the U.S., Experts Now Believe” and reported that “there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable — at least not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever.”

In other words: the ‘news’-sources that were opposing the governments’ taking action against Covid-19 — libertarian ’news’-sites that oppose governmental laws and regulations, regardless of the predominant view by the vast majority of the scientists who specialize in studying the given subject — are looking wronger all the time, as this “novel coronavirus” (which is what it was originally called) becomes less and less “novel,” and more and more understood scientifically.

The “herd immunity” advocates for anti-Covid-19 policies have been saying that governments should just let the virus spread until nature takes its course and such a large proportion of the population have survived the infection as to then greatly reduce the likelihood that an uninfected person will become infected. An uninfected person will increasingly be surrounded by people who have developed a natural immunity to the disease, and by people who don’t and never did become infected by it. The vulnerable people will have become eliminated (died) or else cured, and so they won’t be spreading the disease to others. That’s the libertarian ’solution’, the final solution to the Covid-19 problem, according to libertarians.

For example, on 9 April 2020, Forbes magazine headlined “After Rejecting A Coronavirus Lockdown, Sweden Sees Rise In Deaths” and reported that, “Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has continuously advocated for laid back measures, saying on Swedish TV Sunday that the pandemic could be defeated by herd immunity, or the indirect protection from a large portion of a population being immune to an infection, or a combination of immunity and vaccination. However, critics have argued that with a coronavirus vaccine could be more than a year away, and insufficient evidence that coronavirus patients that recover are immune from becoming infected again, the strategy of relying on herd immunity and vaccinations [is] ineffective.”

The libertarian proposal of relying upon “herd immunity” for producing policies against this disease has continued, nonetheless.

CNN headlined on 28 April 2020, “Sweden says its coronavirus approach has worked. The numbers suggest a different story”, and reported that 

On March 28, a petition signed by 2,000 Swedish researchers, including Carl-Henrik Heldin, chairman of the Nobel Foundation, called for the nation’s government to “immediately take steps to comply with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations.”

The scientists added: “The measures should aim to severely limit contact between people in society and to greatly increase the capacity to test people for Covid-19 infection.”

“These measures must be in place as soon as possible, as is currently the case in our European neighboring countries,” they wrote. “Our country should not be an exception to the work to curb the pandemic.”

The petition said that trying to “create a herd immunity, in the same way that occurs during an influenza epidemic, has low scientific support.”

Swedish authorities have denied having a strategy to create herd immunity, one the UK government was rumored to be working towards earlier on in the pandemic — leading to widespread criticism — before it enforced a strict lockdown.

FORTUNE magazine headlined on 30 July 2020, “How parts of India inadvertently achieved herd immunity”, and reported that, “Around 57% of people across parts of India’s financial hub of Mumbai have coronavirus antibodies, a July study found, indicating that the population may have inadvertently achieved the controversial ‘herd immunity’ protection from the coronavirus.” Furthermore:

Herd immunity is an approach to the coronavirus pandemic where, instead of instituting lockdowns and other restrictions to slow infections, authorities allow daily life to go on as normal, letting the disease spread. In theory, enough people will become infected, recover, and gain immunity that the spread will slow on its own and people who are not immune will be protected by the immunity of those who are. University of Chicago researchers estimated in a paper published in May that achieving herd immunity from COVID-19 would require 67% of people to be immune to the disease. Mayo Clinic estimates 70% of the U.S. population will need to be immune for the U.S. to achieve herd immunity, which can also be achieved by vaccinating that proportion of a population.

On 27 September 2020, Reuters bannered “In Brazil’s Amazon a COVID-19 resurgence dashes herd immunity hopes”, and reported that, “The largest city in Brazil’s Amazon has closed bars and river beaches to contain a fresh surge of coronavirus cases, a trend that may dash theories that Manaus was one of the world’s first places to reach collective, or herd, immunity.”

Right now, the global average of Covid-19 intensity (total cases of the disease thus far) is 19,693 persons per million population. For examples: Botswana is barely below that intensity, at 19,629, and Norway is barely above that intensity, at 20,795. Sweden is at 95,905, which is nearly five times the global average. Brazil is 69,006, which is around 3.5 times worse than average. India is 14,321, which is slightly better than average. USA is 99,754.  

However, the day prior, on May 2nd, America had 30,701 new cases. Brazil had 28,935. Norway had 210. India had 370,059. Sweden’s latest daily count (as-of May 3rd) was 5,937 on April 29th, 15 times Norway’s 385 on that date. Sweden’s population is 1.9 times that of Norway. India’s daily count is soaring. Their population is four times America’s, but the number of new daily cases in India is twelve times America’s. Whereas India has had only one-seventh as much Covid-19 intensity till now, India is soaring upwards to become ultimately, perhaps, even worse than America is on Covid-19 performance. And Brazil is already almost as bad as America, on Covid-19 performance, and will soon surpass America in Covid-19 failure.

There is no “herd immunity” against Covid-19, yet, anywhere. It’s just another libertarian myth. But libertarians still continue to believe it — they refuse to accept the data.

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