For many years I had predicted to my friends that the increasingly bizarre and incompetent behavior of America’s ruling elites might soon result in a major “negative discontinuity” for our unfortunate country, the sort of massive event that future authors would use to divide one section of a thick history textbook from the next.
I couldn’t quite say what form that “discontinuity” might take, but I suggested possibilities along the lines of another Great Depression or some huge social upheaval or perhaps even a world war. The notion of an uncontrolled disease epidemic never crossed my mind, but our Covid-19 outbreak—together with the totally incompetent governmental response and the resulting social and economic disaster—seems to fit the bill quite nicely, even producing a triple-header of national calamities.
Or perhaps a quadruple-header. Although a world war still seems distant, the recent demonization of China, a bipartisan project of Democrats and Republicans alike, has already been labeled a new Cold War by leading journalistic observers, and cold wars can easily turn hot. Just a couple of weeks ago, American provocations in the vicinity of Chinese military exercises led the Chinese to respond by test-firing several of their vaunted “carrier-killer” missiles, weapons widely believed capable of immediately sending any of our primary power-projection platforms to the bottom of the ocean.
For three generations, the US has carefully avoided any military conflict with a near-peer, but that traditional forbearance may now have been replaced by extreme recklessness. Many of our cities have been set aflame in urban rioting, we have seen a huge spike in violent crime, and massive unemployment continues. So if the incumbent’s poll numbers look bleak as Election Day nears, a political October Surprise of major sabre-rattling and brinksmanship seems quite possible, and a sudden misstep might then put us at war in the South China Sea.
Chinese anti-carrier ballistic missiles have been developed to prevent an American blockade of their vital offshore waters, and many analysts doubt we have any effective defense. The loss of a carrier would mean thousands of American deaths and the possible collapse of our perceived control of the world’s sea lanes, perhaps ending the dollar’s long reign as the world’s reserve currency and thereby massively impoverishing our citizenry. A frantic American government might react by escalating to nuclear weapons, with horrific and unforeseeable consequences.
Greatly increasing this risk of war has been the very dangerous public game played for months by the Trump Administration and its political allies. The response of America’s national government to the Covid-19 outbreak was among the worst and most incompetent in the world, with only India and Brazil challenging our place at the bottom of the charts, and it is difficult to imagine a worse political nightmare for an incumbent during a presidential election year. The widespread national lockdowns produced an unprecedented spike in business failures and unemployment, which have only temporarily been mitigated by raising our national debt to levels last seen at the close of the Second World War.
Under such difficult circumstances, even the most sober and cautious of political leaders would naturally seek some desperate means of diverting blame elsewhere, and no one has ever accused our current president of such sobriety. So it was hardly surprising that for weeks during the peak of the New York outbreak and the early national lockdowns, Trump and his top officials explicitly suggested that the deadly virus had come from a Wuhan lab, thus accusing the Chinese government of being responsible for our deaths and economic disaster, with such charges being widely echoed in the media.
Although that public war of words has now subsided, the impact still remains. According to a poll taken at the end of April, a remarkable 45% of Americans believed that the deadly virus had “probably” or “definitely” originated in such a laboratory, with 74% of Republicans having that belief. Consider that nearly 200,000 Americans have already died and our business economy has suffered trillions of dollars in losses. Most great wars have been launched on merely a sliver of such justification.
This is an exceptionally dangerous situation, and we would naturally expect that our leading national publications would devote enormous resources to carefully investigating such dramatic charges and perhaps refuting them, especially given that their editorial staffs so greatly loathe the current occupant of the White House.
It sometimes seems like every edition of my morning New York Times includes one or more headlines screaming the phrase “Trump lied”, generally with reference to some casually insulting Tweet about a leading Democrat. But the Great Satan’s public accusation that the Chinese government has been directly responsible for the deaths of nearly 200,000 Americans seems to have received far less scrutiny. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Times have published investigative reports on some of these issues, but these have been extremely deferential in their coverage, and anyway lacked the depth and detail that is so clearly warranted.
A natural venue for serious investigative journalism would be the prestigious national magazines that have traditionally provided long-form reporting, with The Atlantic and The New York Times Sunday Magazine being the most obvious possibilities. But these publications have increasingly shifted their focus to “wokeness” and seem to believe that the investigative research necessary to help deflect a world war with China has far less importance than a soulful piece on the emotional plight of transgendered black rappers.
Fortunately, the ease of Internet publishing has allowed the creation of a multitude of new webzine outlets, able to fill the gaps created by the increased frivolity and irrelevance of their established predecessors. The emerging landscape of alternative media is a broad one, with individual publications possessing different strengths and weaknesses. For example, our own webzine has very high traffic but is among the most controversial and therefore one of the least likely to be mentioned in mainstream outlets.
Situated at the opposite end of this spectrum is Quillette. Launched in 2015 by former mainstream journalist Claire Lehmann, this webzine is sufficiently respectable that few journalists or academics would fear any association. Establishing such respectability is merely a means toward an end, and Quillette has now justified that effort many times over by publishing a remarkable four-part series analyzing the wider Covid-19 accusations against China. The author, Philippe Lemoine is a Cornell graduate student originally from France and his exhaustive 31,000 word opus might once have appeared as the cover-story of one of our leading national publications prior to their lapse into decadence. I have seen nothing else so comprehensive on that subject, and I would strongly recommend that the articles be read by everyone interested in this important topic.
- The China Syndrome Part I: Outbreak
- The China Syndrome Part II: Transmission and Response
- The China Syndrome Part III: Wet Markets and BioLabs
- The China Syndrome Part IV: Did China Fudge its Data?
Seeking to summarize over 30,000 words in just a couple of paragraphs is a hopeless undertaking that I will not attempt. But the author seems to follow proper scholarly methods, carefully evaluating the often conflicting sources and applying a good deal of logic and common sense. In some cases he draws clear conclusions, but more often he properly settles for reasonable likelihoods rather than anything stronger.
In reading this analysis I was repeatedly struck by the extremely flimsy nature of the evidence being used to indict China. One of the most widely cited theories implicating the Wuhan lab was apparently based upon nothing more than unsubstantiated social media rumors, while a major article in National Review doctored its central quotes by leaving out sentences that completely changed their meaning. In recent years our media has fiercely ridiculed those lunatic conspiracy-mongers who claim that most of our mass-shootings have been media hoaxes perpetrated by “crisis actors” or that “nobody died at Sandy Hook.” But much of the main evidence pointing to Chinese culpability for the worldwide Covid-19 disaster appears just as vacuous.
Lemoine seems a very cautious writer and he carefully avoids contaminating his important analysis by suggesting any bad faith or fraud in the work he is examining, but given the history of the last couple of decades we can hardly ignore that possibility. Our disastrous Iraq War was promoted by the knowingly-false claims of Saddam’s WMDs, and the equally farcical Russiagate Hoax has roiled American politics for more than three years. Governmental intelligence agencies have great resources and expertise in fabricating evidence and then effectively promoting their concoctions through their network of friendly journalists. We should hardly be surprised if such means had been employed to redirect the political blame for a multi-trillion-dollar global catastrophe.
Lemoine handles even more delicate matters extremely well. The WSJ had already established that the national health authorities in China only learned of the growing Wuhan disease outbreak at the very end of December, and he persuasively argues that their local counterparts in that city had only become aware a few days earlier. But in Part I of his series, he also includes a discordant early paragraph mentioning that multiple US Intelligence sources had disclosed to ABC News that in late November a unit of our own Defense Intelligence Agency had distributed a secret report describing a “cataclysmic” disease outbreak taking place in Wuhan and warning our military forces stationed in East Asia to take appropriate health precautions. Lemoine correctly notes that the claims “made no sense” since “there is simply no way US intelligence could have known that an epidemic was underway at the time.” Therefore, he concludes that the report never existed and that the leaks were false information provided by enemies of Donald Trump in an effort to embarrass the president.
But as an extremely diligent researcher he surely must be aware that Israeli TV had independently confirmed the existence of that secret DIA report, disclosing that it had been widely distributed both to their own government and to our NATO allies. However, if Lemoine had acknowledged the reality that our intelligence agencies were fully aware of the Wuhan outbreak more than a month before anyone in China, the obvious implications would be too explosive to avoid considering. And any such discussion would have ensured that his very important 31,000 word series never appeared in any respectable venue. But by including that crucial paragraph, he may at least have begun to raise questions in the minds of his establishmentarian readers.
An effective media strategy may often require a division of labor, with different horses for different courses. Given that my own writings and webzine lack the “mainstream respectability” of Quillette, I can be much more candid in my analyses, and will once again repeat a few of the crucial paragraphs I had first published back in April:
But with the horrific consequences of our own later governmental inaction being obvious, elements within our intelligence agencies have sought to demonstrate that they were not the ones asleep at the switch. Earlier this month, an ABC News story cited four separate government sources to reveal that as far back as late November, a special medical intelligence unit within our Defense Intelligence Agency had produced a report warning that an out-of-control disease epidemic was occurring in the Wuhan area of China, and widely distributed that document throughout the top ranks of our government, warning that steps should be taken to protect US forces based in Asia. After the story aired, a Pentagon spokesman officially denied the existence of that November report, while various other top level government and intelligence officials refused to comment. But a few days later, Israeli television mentioned that in November American intelligence had indeed shared such a report on the Wuhan disease outbreak with its NATO and Israeli allies, thus seeming to independently confirm the complete accuracy of the original ABC News story and its several government sources.
It therefore appears that elements of the Defense Intelligence Agency were aware of the deadly viral outbreak in Wuhan more than a month before any officials in the Chinese government itself. Unless our intelligence agencies have pioneered the technology of precognition, I think this may have happened for the same reason that arsonists have the earliest knowledge of future fires.
As the coronavirus gradually began to spread beyond China’s own borders, another development occurred that greatly multiplied my suspicions. Most of these early cases had occurred exactly where one might expect, among the East Asian countries bordering China. But by late February Iran had become the second epicenter of the global outbreak. Even more surprisingly, its political elites had been especially hard-hit, with a full 10% of the entire Iranian parliament soon infected and at least a dozen of its officials and politicians dying of the disease, including some who were quite senior. Indeed, Neocon activists on Twitter began gleefully noting that their hatred Iranian enemies were now dropping like flies.
Let us consider the implications of these facts. Across the entire world the only political elites that have yet suffered any significant human losses have been those of Iran, and they died at a very early stage, before significant outbreaks had even occurred almost anywhere else in the world outside China. Thus, we have America assassinating Iran’s top military commander on Jan. 2nd and then just a few weeks later large portions of the Iranian ruling elites became infected by a mysterious and deadly new virus, with many of them soon dying as a consequence. Could any rational individual possibly regard this as a mere coincidence?
Since various commenters have posed questions regarding my reconstruction of the Covid-19 outbreak, it’s probably best for me to provide a summary of my own theory, already included in a lengthy comment a couple of weeks ago, but sufficiently important to be made part of the main text. Obviously, this reconstruction is quite speculative, but I think it best fits all the available evidence. Individual components can be changed or replaced without necessarily damaging the overall hypothesis.
(1) Rogue elements within our large national security apparatus probably affiliated with the Deep State Neocons decided to inflict severe damage upon the huge Chinese economy using biowarfare. The plan was to infect the key transport hub of Wuhan with Covid-19 so that the disease would invisibly spread throughout the entire country during the annual Lunar New Year travels, and they used the cover of the Wuhan International Military Games to slip a couple of operatives into the city to release the virus. My guess is that only a relatively small number of individuals were involved in this plot.
(2) The biological agent they released was designed primarily as an anti-economy rather than an anti-personnel weapon. Although Covid-19 has rather low fatality rates, it is extremely contagious, has a long pre-symptomatic infectious period, and can even spread by asymptomatic carriers, making it ideally suited for that purpose. Thus, once it established itself throughout most of China, it would be extremely difficult to eradicate and the resulting efforts to control it would inflict enormous damage upon China’s economy and society.
(3) As a secondary operation, they decided to target Iran’s political elites, possibly deploying a somewhat more deadly variant of the virus. Since political elites generally tend to be elderly, they would anyway suffer far greater fatalities.
(4) The deadly SARS and MERS outbreaks in East Asia and the Near East had never significantly spread back to America (or Europe), so the plotters wrongly assumed that the same would be the case with Covid-19. Anyway, since international organizations always ranked the US and Europe as having the best and most effective public health systems for combating any disease epidemic, they believed that any possible blowback damage would be very minor.
(5) Only a small number of individuals were directly involved in this plot, and soon after the disease was successfully released in Wuhan, they decided to further safeguard America’s own interests by alerting the appropriate units with the Defense Intelligence Agency, probably by fabricating some sort of supposed “intelligence leak.” Basically, they arranged for the DIA to hear that Wuhan was apparently suffering a “cataclysmic” disease outbreak, thereby leading the DIA to prepare and distribute a secret report warning our own forces and allies to take appropriate precautions.
(6) Unfortunately for these plans, the Chinese government reacted with astonishing determination and effectiveness, and soon stamped out the disease. Meanwhile, the lackadaisical and incompetent American government largely ignored the problem, only reacting after the massive outbreak in Northern Italy had gotten media attention. Since the CDC had botched production of a testing kit, we had no means of recognizing that the disease was already spreading in our country, and the result was massive damage to America’s economy and society. In effect, America suffered exactly the fate that had originally been intended for its Chinese rival.
(7) Again, this is my own hypothetical reconstruction, and people are free to dispute individual elements. But I think it best fits with the very limited amount of solid evidence. My long article from April fleshes out the China/America background in much greater detail: