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Is the COVID-19 crisis an advantage for Trump’s re-election or vice versa?

Anar Imanzade

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The pandemic in the twenty-first century has now become the most determining force on the outcome of the 2020 American Presidential Elections. In this paper, I am going to analyze the impact of the pandemic on Mr. Trump’s chances of getting re-elected. Does it undermine his chances or vice versa? This question may be answered based on three major factors: prevalence in digital campaigning, the candidates’ view on China, and Mr. Trump’s response to the coronavirus and economic recession.

Digital campaign

The coronavirus outbreak made running traditional campaigns problematic as since March neither Donald Trump nor his opponent Joe Biden made public speeches in front of their supporters. Unexpectedly, the importance of running digital campaigns through virtual platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram waxed. This circumstance would have a profound impact on Mr. Trump’s re-election in November but in which way? Well, there is no one answer to this question. 

In the 2016 presidential election, Facebook played a crucial role in determining the outcome of the elections. Trump campaign managers put many efforts into digital campaigning by creating 5.9 million ads on Facebook whereas Hillary Clinton’s team made only 66 thousand ads. Though it spawned much debate about the manipulation of public opinion as some news distributed via microtargeting was proven to be false. The microtargeting itself was contentious from the privacy policy perspective as it was reported that some user data was shared with political consulting companies. Afterward, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify in Congress and confessed that Facebook was reluctant in checking the validity of spread information and protecting the privacy of user data that could cause public manipulation. 

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, internet media consumption increased worldwide including the United States. The role of digital campaigning strengthened even more as quarantine rules do not allow big people gatherings in the context of a traditional campaign running. Meaning that social media and other digital network platforms gained more significance for the success of political campaigns. However, it seems history is repeating itself and the Democratic side is still far behind allocating sufficient time, human and strategy resources for prevalence in digital campaigning. On the contrary, Donald Trump’s team is taking the internet more seriously having clear predominance over Mr. Biden’s team, and here is why.

Firstly, from the contextual perspective, Mr. Trump’s campaign is more digitally oriented. The vivid exemplification of this is the manager of the campaign himself: Brad Parscale. Mr. Parscale is versed in programming languages and possesses vast experience working with digital advertisements. Moreover, unlike the previous campaign, according to his own words, the availability of an information base makes the task for Mr. Parscale easier in 2020. This is pretty understandable as the whole government’s intelligence machine is in the service of President and a candidate Trump.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, has only 25 people working for his digital campaign and himself preferring a more traditional way of running a campaign and not spending so much time on social media as Mr. Trump does. Even if Mr. Biden places a complete focus on digital campaigning, he is far behind Mr. Trump in the number of followers on all virtual platforms. For instance, on Twitter Donald Trump and Joe Biden have around 80 and 6 million followers respectively. This kind of huge gap is much telling about the virtual campaign possibilities of each candidate. It means more Americans unwittingly interact with Mr. Trump’s politically biased tweets being deprived of reading both candidates’ opinions and objectively evaluating them. 

But what if Mr. Biden accumulates as many followers as Mr. Trump already has? Well, getting more popular on the internet to deliver a message is a very time-taking task and can last many months. Even in case, Mr. Biden’s team succeeded in this, it still would not pave the way to a cordial change. The point is that Mr. Trump is more radical than Joe Biden; his ideas are more provocative in which he constantly blames someone, focuses on a certain segment of the American population, states his thoughts in an emotional manner, etc. Such politically incorrect but more concentrated on potential electorate expressions receive more likes, shares, and comments by spreading it across digital platforms. Mr. Biden’s centrism and unity pledges which are quite abstract oppose his need of being more “shared” on social media. Ironically, attempting to appeal broader segments of the population, Mr. Biden gets full support of none of them. Although more radical progressive politicians such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders whose ideas more ideologically concrete and segment-oriented, endorsed Mr. Biden, will this endorsement bring more support and popularity? It is unlikely until Mr. Biden nominates them as the running mate or publicly promises to appoint them to a certain post. Any radical leftist would like the idea of Bernie Sander being a Secretary of Labor.

Here we can argue that Donald Trump’s political course, material, and digital opportunities, campaign orientation grant him more chances for victory in the virtual world. Accordingly, the coronavirus outbreak deliberately increased the strategic importance of the digital campaigning in which Mr. Trump far outweighs Joe Biden. 

Views on China

The second big way how the coronavirus outbreak might affect the 2020 elections is the candidates’ stances on China. The readers might doubt the importance of this criterion; however, there are two indicators based on which I make this argument. Firstly, both candidates’ campaign managers considered this a sufficiently critical issue to include it in political advertisement. Inside the videos, Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden accuse each other of being too soft on China. Secondly, the Pew Research survey shows that 66 percent of Americans now have negative views of China against 26 percent in favor and 8 percent saying “don’t know.” The proportion is large enough to impact the outcome of the elections. Consequently, a candidate being more stubborn and stricter about China will have more chances for victory. But who has been tougher on China?

Amid the pandemic Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Biden’s claims on China seem more similar, however, by taking a short glance at history it is obvious that their approaches significantly differ. 

Mr. Trump had negative views on China even before getting elected as the President by blaming it for taking advantage of the United States. After entering the office, President Trump took other measures against China. First of all, China was numerously mentioned as posing threat in plenty of spheres such as trade, artificial intelligence, military, geopolitics, soft-power, etc. in the National Security Strategy (NSS). It morphed Mr. Trump’s campaign claims into prospective policy implementations in this direction. Secondly, Mr. Trump commenced a trade war against China putting high tariffs on Chinese imports. He criticized China on bypassing the rules of trade and damaging American farmers by creating an image of a President protecting the American people from China. In the times of rising negative views on China, it is useful for Mr. Trump.

On the contrary, in May 2019 Mr. Biden called the Chinese “not bad folks” and stated “they are not in competition for us” in response to Mr. Trump’s concerns about China. And the administration of which Mr. Biden was Vice President, considered the relationship with China as the most important in the twenty-first century. Ultimately, Mr. Biden cannot boast about being tough on China and this is not only about himself but also his party’s mainstream policy. Republicans have inherently been more negative on China and persisted in the importance of domination in great power competition counterweight to Democrats mostly preferring cooperation. 

Recently in a democratic primary debate, Joe Biden said that Donald Trump did not hold China accountable and “rolled over the Chinese.” However, this statement is not an appropriate one amid increased racism against Asian Americans. Considering the fact Mr. Biden’s potential constituency is mostly racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities, the statement puts his own “unifying leader” image at risk sidelining not only Asian Americans but also other minorities.

Economic impact and timely response to the coronavirus

The third most determining factors that might influence the elections in November are economic recession and measures taken to respond to the pandemic by President Trump. Many consider that Americans will understand how unprofessional and negligent the President when it comes to handling major crises. Political advertisements prepared by Mr. Biden’s team showcases a high level of hope for hitting the President on this ground. 

Notifying the reader that this section does not aim to answer the question of whether the response was proper or not, it only takes into a discussion how the actions taken by the President were perceived by Americans and this perception’s possible influence on the upcoming elections. 

In general, Americans are slightly more negative about the President’s response to the pandemic (response in this paragraph is refers to measured taken to prevent the spread of the virus.) A large portion of people holding a negative view is young people, liberals, and ethnic minorities (Pew). As a rebuttal to this point, the majority of Protestants, white Catholics, and the elderly are confident in Mr. Trump’s coronavirus response. At first look, it seems that the majority is not in favor of the President concerning the pandemic case, however, the groups not supporting Mr. Trump (mentioned above) is not the electorate which voted for him in 2016. Vice versa, people who voted for Donald Trump are the same White Christians and elderly Americans. Accordingly, the coronavirus crisis could not yet switch the positions of that segment of the American population on which Donald Trump focuses his political discourse. 

The economic impact of the pandemic is more challenging though. More than half of Americans think Mr. Trump is not doing a good job in terms of addressing the economic needs of ordinary people. Slightly more than half of Americans think that he is good at aiding businesses facing financial difficulties. However, the monthly unemployment reports are very high and keep growing. Lowest in history of the United States unemployment rates with which Donald Trump was bragging is now obsolete. Severe consequences of economic recession are quite likely and, certainly, it will affect Mr. Trump’s chances to get re-elected. The extent of its affection will go hand in hand with the size of damage to the US economy caused by the pandemic.

Undeniably, the economic impact of the pandemic hit the whole world and the long term impact is obscured so far. Among all the above-mentioned factors of the coronavirus impact, the economic part is ongoing and will shape public opinion within the process of handling the crisis. Because this is the matter of future, any attempts to formulate precise predictions over the impact of the recession on Mr. Trump’s chances of getting re-elected are doomed to be imprecise.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would argue that at this point, Mr. Trump’s chances are not undermined by the pandemic. On the contrary, some powerful aspects of Mr. Trump’s campaign such prevalence in digital networking are strengthened even to a greater extent. The Democratic side, on the other hand, seems to be giving less significance to digital campaigning as they were doing in 2016.

Trump’s political course is also convenient for the current situation, as for the first time not only Americans but also the world started thinking of China as a country shutting transparency and honesty. American workers and manufacturers one more time got confident that China is posing threat on many grounds and Mr. Trump’s China policy was correct. Even though Joe Biden now uses tough rhetoric against China and criticizes allegedly “soft President” on it, his statements are not convincing and do not reflect what he was saying a year before. In politics, a lie is not a big deal, but a radical change of the system of your beliefs is a different story.

In the end, the most complicated issue is the worsening economy that puts Mr. Trump’s re-elections chances at high risk. If no preventive measures will be taken, the unemployed might vote for a change and a more socially-oriented Democratic President. Thus, much will depend on the direction in which the economy flows. Besides, the impact of COVID-19, for now, is harmless to Mr. Trump, vice versa at some point it is beneficial.

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Americas

What do Donald Trump and ultra-conservative Pakistani imams have in common?

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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Authors: James M. Dorsey and Tehmina Qureshi*

US President Donald J. Trump and ultra-conservative Pakistani religious scholars may have more in common than either would want to admit: a belief that congregation is an essential pillar of prayer irrespective of public health concerns.

Mr. Trump, however, may wish that he had the kind of less polarized and/or more compliant audience that Pakistani clerics address.

Scores of religious leaders and groups in the United States have sought to protect their communities by advocating virtual rather than physical congregation at the time of a pandemic in which the coronavirus has yet to be brought under control.

Religious authorities in much of the Muslim world, Pakistan being the exception that proves the rule, have heeded government instructions and medical and public health advice.

That advice ranged from the closure of mosques to bans on social gatherings that precluded traditional iftar meals breaking the Ramadan fast and celebrations of this week’s end of the holy month to Saudi Arabia’s suspension of the umrah, the lesser pilgrimage to Mecca and possibly the haj too.

Leaving aside the question whether he has the legal power to do so, Mr. Trump vowed to overrule governors who refused to open houses of worship, noting that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) had issued guidelines that included physical distancing.

The move designed to play to Mr. Trump’s Evangelist voter base received a mixed reception among American faith communities.

It appealed to those segments of the community with an unqualified belief in God’s ability and will to protect and that often are steeped in notions of Christian manhood that have deep roots in American Evangelism and were boosted by the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Towers and the Pentagon in Washington.

Mr. Trump’s recognition of prayer as an “essential” societal activity further drew a line intended to give houses of worship autonomy in an environment in which state intrusion into people’s lives has expanded greatly in a bid to fight the pandemic.

In that sense, the president was fighting a battle similar to that of Pakistani Sunni and Shia Muslim leaders who rejected a total closure of mosques but were willing to accept guidance on issues such as physical distancing.

The leaders see mosques “as spaces where you cultivate  and express a communal religious identity that is very central to…their vision of the Pakistani state,” said a Pakistani Islamic scholar.

The clerics’ determination to retain control of religious spaces was reinforced by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s flip flops that resembled Mr. Trump’s zig zags.

Mr. Khan initially sought to appeal to religious circles by meeting in the early days of the pandemic with Maulana Tariq Jameel, a leader of Tablighi Jamaat, who initially denied the contagious aspect of the virus.

Mr. Jameel reversed course and embraced physical distancing after his movement’s mass gatherings in Pakistan, Malaysia, India and Indonesia turned into super spreaders of the coronavirus.

Mr. Khan’s government further complicated issues by initially agreeing with religious leaders on a division of labour that would have empowered the clerics to advise their followers to stay at home, avoid congregational prayer and maintain physical distancing and then jumping the gun to announce the measures without coordination.

Mosques in major Pakistani cities were packed in recent days, despite religious leaders paying lip service to physical distancing, in a reflection of the degree to which ultra-conservatism has woven itself into the fabric of Pakistani society and in stark contrast to Saudi Arabia’s pre-emptive response to the health crisis.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled against government lockdowns, suggesting that the coronavirus was not a pandemic. Religious leaders have since backed away from their acceptance of physical distancing, demanding that the advice be abandoned.

Mr. Trump’s recognition of prayer as essential aligned itself with notions of concepts of religious freedom promoted by his administration, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the lead, that in effect serve to legitimize discrimination against minorities of various stripes.

Few doubt that Mr. Trump made his move with an eye on the US presidential election in November. Mr. Trump was embarking on a road on which mainstream ultra-conservative Pakistani clerics were also travelling.

The clerics remained silent when Ahmadis, a sect viewed as heretic by mainstream Muslims, were excluded from a national commission created by the government earlier this month to promote religious tolerance and counter persecution of minorities.

Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry barred inclusion of Ahmadis, who are among Pakistan’s most discriminated minorities, on grounds that they did not qualify as a minority and refuse to recognize the country’s constitution.

A 1974 amendment of the constitution bars Ahmadis from identifying themselves as Muslims because they do not recognize Mohammed as the last prophet.

Compared to the polarising environment that Mr. Trump operates in and likes to entrench, Pakistani clerics have it a lot easier. Except for liberals and human rights activists, few in Pakistan are willing to stand up for Ahmadi rights.

Moreover, the government shied away from imposing its will on the religious establishment during the pandemic as did the military, which built quarantine centres in various cities and helped local authorities implement a lockdown.

Pakistan lacks truly influential, more liberal religious voices in the mould of for example Reverend Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches that groups African-American denominations, the mainline church and the Greek Orthodox Church.

“We listen to communities of colour, and many of our congregations’ people are engaged in representing refugees and immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, even seniors, they’re saying, why the urgency?” Mr. DeYoung said in response to Mr. Trump’s push.

“They’re…directly affected. They’re actually afraid in many cases to go into group gatherings…We feel that we need to make our decisions based on good science and the recommendations of our health department,” the reverend added.

Mr. DeYoung was joined by his Muslim counterparts in contrast to their Pakistani brethren.

“American Muslim scholars and community leaders have already determined that mosques will not be open in the near future because of the health concerns brought on by the pandemic. That’s a determination for them to make not for the president to make,” said Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of the Council on American–Islamic Relations, the largest US Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

To be sure, the United States and Pakistan are vastly different countries. Pakistan has been hard hit by the pandemic with 55,657 cases of infection to date and 1,155 deaths. Yet, that is  a far cry from the United States’ 1,613,324 cases and 96,659 deaths.

Pakistan, nonetheless, saw its number of cases quadruple during the month of Ramadan and the rate of new infections jump by 30 percent in the last week as the holy month neared its end .

Yet, when it comes to employing religion to entrench power at the cost of striking a balance between faith and science, Mr. Trump and Pakistani religious scholars share the kind of opportunism and worldview that serve their short-term interests irrespective of the cost to human life and potentially to already battered economies.

*Tehmina Qureshi is a multi-platform journalist and editorial writer at Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English-language newspaper.

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COVID-19’s Weakness Is Its Strength

Rich Berdan

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About 4/5ths or 80% of the deaths come from 1/5th or 20% of the Canadian population. Our seniors and those living in long-term care facilities have been held with obscure and unregulated measures to say the least. Conversely, roughly 1/5th or 20% of the deaths have come from 4/5th or 80% of the population that are younger than or senior community and perhaps some underlying health issues. While not short of devastating to families affected, it is roughly a thousand deaths in 80% of the population or about 1 in 40,000 deaths in this sizeable wedge of our communities. The mortalities equate to a relatively small number of 2.5 per deaths for every 100,000 Canadians.

In contrast, the top 5 leading causes of death in Canada per 100,000 are:

  1. Cancer: 68,000 deaths or 207.7 per 100,000
  2. Heart Disease: 50,000 deaths or 152.8 per 100,000
  3. Cerebrovascular Disease: 14,000 deaths or 42.3 per 100,000
  4. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases: 10,000 deaths or 30.0 per 100,000
  5. Accidents: 9,700 deaths or 29.5 per 100,000

In 2018 there were 4,157 suicides in Canada: making it the 9th leading cause of death behind Alzheimer’s Disease. With an economy currently on life support in some sectors, the number of suicides will likely climb higher this year as people succumb to job loss, the inability to pay their mortgage or credit loans, and bankruptcies. In the last month alone, there have been nine spouses murdered in domestic violence and likely thousands of cases of abuse and violence in family homes going unreported.

While the initial unknowns and actions around the pandemic were undoubtedly justified, Canada and the world should be better equipped to understand what is necessary to sustain a more robust economy if there is indeed a second wave of the virus. The most dangerous characteristic of COVID-19 is its weakness to kill. Unlike more deadly viruses that dispatch the host quickly and have a tapered prospect to vault to others and dies out, COVID-19 is carried by asymptomatic humans who unknowingly infect those most vulnerable to the illness.

The best solution following a crippling downturn in the market from the first wave will not be a nation-wide shutdown in the next go around. It would rather be a laser focus to take care of our seniors, specifically in our long-term care facilities, and self-isolate our most at-risk population and those with underlying medical issues. One must wonder how the leading causes of death in Canada will pop well above the number of COVID-19 related deaths with postponed cancer treatments and the like over the year.

One then must also examine whether the prolonged lockdowns and restrictions throughout the country, not to mention the crippling debt load and taxes to ensue, was the best reaction overall. It is safe to say, lives were saved through physical distancing practices, and the sacrificial deeds by individuals taking coronavirus very seriously was prudent. If only intense attention were placed on long-term care facilities during the onset, Canada would have come out relatively unscathed by the pandemic.

A full financial recovery will be painful for many, and it will likely take several years to see some semblance to a roaring economy. We do know many life savings for retirement have withered, numerous sectors in the marketplace. Such areas as automotive, travel, hospitality, and oil and gas will not bounce back any time soon, and many Canadians will never return to the jobs they once worked.

It is also apparent through this pandemic that if you have an alternative opinion, one is quickly shunned or dismissed as irresponsible if you are not a medical professional or virologist. Specifically, predicting models of death or advocating ever-changing protective measures or restrictions that shifts the goalposts almost daily.

Rule changes and lockdowns are more readily accepted when one’s income stream is uninterrupted. However, it is a far different story for those on the cusp of their business dissolving in debt or a neighbor prevented from earning a living and placed in the dire predicament in having to choose between paying their rent or buying groceries to feed the kids.

The effects of COVID-19 are far-reaching today and will be far-lasting tomorrow. One thing for sure, the adversity we have all faced through the pandemic has introduced us to ourselves.

From our partner RIAC

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Will the Trump Administration Fight the Coronavirus or China?

Harley Schlanger

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In reviewing the excruciating pressure imposed on U.S. President Donald Trump to drop his efforts to achieve a collaborative relationship with China’s President Xi Jinping, it is useful to review the strategy outlined by former United Kingdom Ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, to manipulate him to adopt British policy initiatives. The {Daily Mail} published on July 6, 2019 leaked diplomatic cables sent by Darroch to Britain’s National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill, discussing how to maintain what he described as “our single most important bilateral relationship”, with Trump as President, given the importance of “defense and intelligence cooperation.”

In his cables, Darroch gave credibility to the discredited report by former MI6 operative Christopher Steele, that Trump could be compromised by the “dodgy Russians…the worst cannot be ruled out”; that Trump and his administration are “inept” and “uniquely dysfunctional”; and that his presidency could “crash and burn”, in a “downward spiral…that leads to disgrace and downfall.”

To sustain the cooperation with — or subservience from — the U.S. that the U.K. requires, Darroch recommends that they employ “Trump whisperers” to “flood the zone” around him: “You want as many as possible of those who Trump consults to give him the same answer. So, we need to be creative in using all the channels available to us through our relationships with his Cabinet, the White House staff and our contacts among his outside friends.”

The goal of the “Trump whisperers” from the time he took office has been to break Trump from his stated desire to improve cooperative relations with Russia’s President Putin and China’s President Xi. The Russiagate narrative, which originated with British fabrications from the GCHQ and MI6, was designed to force Trump into a hostile relationship with Russia, in order to dispel rumors he was being blackmailed by Putin. Though it has been fully discredited, and he survived the subsequent effort to remove him, by a House vote for impeachment regarding his alleged effort to withhold aid from Ukraine for political purposes, the U.S. relationship with Russia has been badly damaged, though he continues to say he wants a positive relationship with Russia. In the weeks since the Coronavirus has taken an increasingly deadly toll in the U.S., and the lock-down measures to combat the pandemic have wreaked havoc with the already-collapsing U.S. economy, the Trump Whisperers have escalated their campaign against China, pushing Trump to blame China for the public health crisis, and the related crash of the economy. Among those who have been identified as Trump Whisperers who met with Darroch are former National Security Adviser John Bolton, former Chief of Staff John Kelly, and former adviser Steve Bannon.

But the ultimate target of this campaign is not Putin and Xi — it is Donald Trump, as his presidency is viewed by leading British/City of London officials, and their U.S. allies in the Bush-Obama intelligence community and both U.S. political parties, as an existential threat to the maintenance of their bankrupt system, which is dependent on the unbroken continuity of geopolitical confrontation, and neoliberal economic policies. A review of the British role in promoting the anti-China hysteria demonstrates how the U.K. establishment is focused on moving Trump to turn against China, especially after the successful conclusion by Trump and Xi of Phase I of the trade negotiations.

“Blame China”

At the heart of the British anti-China campaign is the Henry Jackson Society (HJS). Founded by neocons with ties to the lying campaign accusing Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction to justify the Iraq war — including Sir Richard Dearlove, who as MI6 head delivered the fake Iraq WMD dossier to the Bush administration — the HJS has conducted an ongoing campaign demanding concerted action by western nations against China. (Note that Dearlove was among the most aggressive defenders of Christopher Steele, when his fake dossier against Trump came under fire). Among other targets, they went after Chinese telecom innovator Huawei, insisting that any deal with Huawei opens western telecommunications to Chinese spying. Most recently, an April 5 report from HJS demanded that China must pay compensation for the spread of the Coronavirus, drafting a bill for $4 trillion to be paid to G7 nations.

This demand became a leading “talking point” of the anti-China crowd in the U.S., picked up by trade negotiator and anti-China hack Peter Navarro, who is pushing the slogan, “China lied, people died”, to claim that China owes the U.S. It is the subject of a raving article published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on April 28, titled “How to Make China Pay for COVID19”. The article was written by John Yoo and Richard Delahunty, who are notorious for authoring the infamous memo defending torture in Iraq for the Bush administration in 2002. The AEI is one of the leading promoters among U.S. think tanks of British neo-illiberal economic policies. After relentless questioning by anti-China media hawks, President Trump stated at recent press briefings that his administration is looking into getting China to pay!

One prominent “Trump whisperer”, Steve Bannon, a former adviser until he fell into disfavor, uses his “WarRoom” podcast to demand punitive actions against the Chinese government. Bannon accuses China of unleashing a “biological Chernobyl”, saying the “world must hold them [the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)] accountable,” adding provocatively that “All the dead [from the pandemic] are victims of the CCP.” Bannon’s co-host and collaborator in the WarRoom is Raheem Kassam, who previously worked for the HJS.

Another major British intervention, which has been repeated incessantly by those attacking China, was the article on April 5 in the {Sunday Times}, by Niall Ferguson, who is an outspoken apologist for the British Empire. Ferguson claims that “after it became clear that there was a full-blown epidemic spreading from Wuhan”, that the Chinese cut off all domestic travel from there, but allowed international travel to continue. This charge has morphed into the argument that China was spreading the disease deliberately to the rest of the world, and found its way into the April 30 Trump press briefing, when Trump responded to a question by saying that the U.S. is investigating whether this may have been a mistake, or deliberate!

Clearly Trump had not been briefed on the devastating blow to Ferguson’s polemic from Dr. Daniel A. Bell, Dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shangdong University. Bell proved that Ferguson’s charge that international travel continued from Wuhan after January 23 was false, by examining the flight logs, which showed NO flights from Wuhan after that date. Neither the {Times}, nor Ferguson, nor whomever briefed Trump on Ferguson’s fabricated story, has come forward to acknowledge that it is a lie, and the story continues to be bandied about by anti-China politicians and the media. Among those repeating this claim is Navarro, who blustered that instead of containing the virus in Wuhan, “five million people went out from Wuhan and propagated the virus around the world.”

While there are many other instances of such lies shaping an anti-China environment, one of the more egregious ones was a report in the [Daily Telegraph] of Australia, which claims that a report was prepared by a joint intelligence team of the Five Eyes, accusing China of conducting “an assault on international transparency”, by hiding or destroying evidence of the Coronavirus. While the author of this article was subsequently featured on Fox News in the U.S., it has been noted by critics that no one from Five Eyes has taken credit for the report, nor has anyone else seen it! The same “report” also targets Trump, saying that he had been briefed in January that China had unleashed a potentially devastating pandemic, yet he did nothing to counter it. U.S. intelligence officials deny that Trump received such a briefing. The Five Eyes network, which includes the U.K., the U.S., and British Commonwealth countries Canada, Australia and New Zealand, was prominently involved in setting in motion the fake Russiagate story, with particular input from Australian official Alexander Downer.

One U.S. official, who is at the center of the War Hawk grouping in the Trump administration, who finds no British claim too extreme to repeat, is Secretary of State Pompeo, who often travels to London to coordinate this offensive. In May 2019, he spoke at a London think tank, the Center for Policy Studies, warning that China’s goal is to divide the western alliance — which in fact is what he has been doing, with his global tour attacking the Belt-and-Road Initiative, which has been gaining support among some EU countries — and attempting to cut-off cooperation with Huawei. Last January, during a stop in London, Pompeo said that “the Chinese Communist Party is the central threat of our times.” Recently, on Fox tv and in other venues, Pompeo said there is “huge evidence” that the CCP is “hiding and obfuscating” the truth about its role in spreading the Coronavirus, but that he cannot divulge that evidence! He went on to accuse the CCP of “using classic communist disinformation” in its coverup, insisting that the CCP “continues to pose a threat to the world,” and that it “now has a responsibility to tell the world how this pandemic got out of China and all across the world, causing such global economic devastation.”

As the 2020 election approaches, this line is one that Trump is being urged to employ to combat the charge that his administration was not prepared to take on the pandemic, a charge already being voiced by the campaign of Trump’s likely opponent, Joe Biden. While ignoring that the lack of preparation was due to a 40+ year dismantling of public health in the U.S., due to adherence to neoliberal austerity policy, a key campaign theme which is emerging is who is “softer” on China. A 57-page memo prepared for the National Republican Senatorial Committee advocates that, in response to Democratic attacks, the Republican response should be “Don’t Defend Trump…Attack China.” This report was prepared by a consultant, Brett O’Donnell, who has in the past worked for Fox News’ anti-China and anti-Russian loudmouth Sean Hannity, war hawk John McCain, and, in 2019, current British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

China Responds to War Hysteria, Calls for Cooperation

The leading media in China have countered this unhinged propaganda campaign sharply, warning that these allegations not only threaten a worsening of relations, but could lead to military confrontation. The British-Canadian news agency Reuters attempted to whip up war hysteria, reporting that a leaked document shows that the Chinese military is “preparing for military confrontation.” Apparently Reuters does not consider nearly non-stop naval maneuvers by the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea to be war preparation, nor that the constant demands that nations in the “Indo-Pacific” region engage in joint maneuvers with the U.S. to combat Chinese “aggression” could raise legitimate concerns in China.

The Chinese media point out that one aspect of the virulent anti-China response is to take away the focus on the failure of the U.S. to adequately prepare for the pandemic. A May 5 story in {China Daily} was headlined “Pompeo’s Clown Show Spotlights U.S. Administration’s Mistakes,” was followed by a story the next day which stated that rather than blaming China for a “coverup”, the problem is that the U.S. ignored the indicators of the coming problem. “Washington should face the reality of the situation…and work with Beijing”, the editorial states, “to defeat this pathogen.” On May 7, {China Daily} issued a call for collaboration under the headline “It’s Time U.S. Focused on the Struggle Against a Real Enemy — the Virus.”

What must be presented to American citizens is that the propaganda designed to create an “enemy image” of China is run by the same networks which targeted Trump for removal by Russiagate, and is just as fabricated as that narrative, as is being demonstrated by the latest evidence coming out from the Flynn case. National security requires that immunity to the “British virus” known as the “special relationship” must be developed, through an understanding of the real intent of British meddling in U.S. policy. This is an essential component to not only effectively fight the Coronavirus and prevent the spread of future pandemics, but also to consolidate mutually beneficial strategic relationships with Russia and China.

From our partner RIAC

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South Asia10 hours ago

Youm-e-Takbeer: When A Responsible Nuclear Power Was Born

Youm-e-Takbeer is a day of greatness when Pakistan already a responsible country was transformed into a strategically mature regional power....

Tech News12 hours ago

Strengthen Inclusion and Empower the World’s Invisible Billion

The World Bank announced today the launch of the second Mission Billion Challenge for innovative solutions to increase inclusion and...

EU Politics14 hours ago

Enabling Europe to lead the green and digital transition

The Commission released today its latest report on the EU’s Science, Research and Innovation Performance, through which it analyses how...

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