I’d prefer to tell you about the air-potato I’m boiling in advance of making a fish pie with it or about the bred-sonz I’m going to go and cut to make as the veg to go with it. I’d even prefer to confess to badly cutting my own left index finger with the scissors I was using, opened (wrongly) to gouge a hole in a wad of 10 sheets of plastic I was making 5 bird-preventers to put around nearly ripened figs up on the tree, which gash is bleeding profusely and around which Ram expertly tied a gauze bandage, and which I’m holding up in the air as though I want to tell the teacher the answer to something, while I type with only one hand.
But, geo-politics of the most dangerous kind has just been detonated by Trump. What I feared in yesterday’s blog is now worse.
World-wide this week, the “coronavirus moment in history” has entered a new phase: war-mongering. This phase may be more dangerous than the health hazards of the virus and the economic ruin it might bring added together.
President Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are desperate men. They have to cover up Trump’s total fiasco in mis-handling the epidemic in a way that has provoked this possible economic ruination – something eminently avoidable. And at the same time, they want to wriggle out of a one trillion dollar US government debt to China, as well as out of a trade deficit of $350 billion that had already provoked Trump’s trade war with China.
And the lead for these two desperate men was given by the chief right-wing ideologue Steve Bannon in an interview on CNBC on Friday last week. He and his backers like the billionaire Koch Brothers and Mercers (who also, incidentally, also directly fund those demonstrators in USA’s cities seen wielding machine-guns in their arms as they break the lockdown) aim to create enough disorder so as to give an advantage to the white nationalists that claim to be Christians in their total takeover of the Republican Party and then the State apparatus itself.
All these right-wing forces are all converging on a clearly defined strategy. What makes this an entire geo-political threat is that, Trump and Pompeo have quietly sent emissaries to “win over” allies against China in some 20 countries against China.
Their strategy? To shift blame from Trump and blame China for the virus, itself, and then for the whole pandemic, as well. Once blamed, the idea is to rally round the slogan that Bannon launched, “make China pay”. Along with China, the aim is to blame (for not blaming China) the World Health Organization, the only organization helping co-ordinate programs for Covid-19 as well as for malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, and other illnesses world-wide. Sometimes also, on the side, they blame Bill Gates Foundation for investing in vaccines and working with the WHO. They also intend to blame scientists for ruining the economy. The blame game is a big, broad game, so desperate are they all.
Other states, like Europe, India, Brazil, Russia, are also liable, when it suits them, to blame China for their own mishandling of the epidemic.
Trump is now supporting calls to actually sue China as well. As Bannon puts it, there must be a lawyer standing next to each coffin in the Hart Island mass graves in New York when the coronavirus deaths peaked.
We should remember the facts in the time-line on this issue:
a) In July 2019, Trump kicked out the American CDC expert, Dr. Nancy Quick, from her job officially embedded in China’s epidemiological department, and so cut off the link between the two countries’ CDCs.
b) On 31 December 2019 China
(i) informed the WHO about the outbreak of a virus.
(ii) via its Wuhan health authorities, put up a website warning for people to avoid gatherings and to wear masks outdoors because 27 people were confirmed with a new kind of pneumonia.
c) On 3 January, China informed the USA’s CDC formally.
d) On 4 January, China CDC and US CDC directors hold phone-call. Agree to co-operate.
e) On 9 January, China, having decoded the genetic makeup of the New Coronavirus two days before and confirmed its link to the illness, puts the information in the public domain, thus allowing all scientists to get to work on vaccines and treatments.
Throughout January, Trump gets national security and epidemiological advice to act. He ignores it. Tells Alex Azar head of Health and Human Services and Task Force on Coronavirus to “stop panicking”.
f) On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern over the coronavirus outbreak.
g) ONE MONTH PASSES since China announced epidemic.
h) By 1 February, 45 countries have put restrictions on travellers from China.
2 February, Trump’s ban on travel from China, except for US nationals, comes into effect.
10 February, Trump says on TV the virus will “go away with the heat in April.”
25 February, Trump says on TV the virus is “a problem that’s gonna go away.”
26 February, Trump says on TV, “15 people [with the virus] within a couple of days will be down to next to zero, we’ve done a good job”
26 February, Trump threatens to remove Alex Azar from his post.
27 February, Trump says on TV “It’s like a miracle, it will disappear”
i) A SECOND MONTH PASSES since China announced epidemic.
6 March, Trump says, “It will go away”
10 March, Trump says on TV, “It will go away, just stay calm”
11 March, WHO declares pandemic (which is not a legal term anyway).
12 March, Trump says on TV, “It’s gonna go away, It’s gonna go away.”
13 March, Trump declares national emergency.
30 March, Trump says on TV, “It is going away. You [reporter] know it’s going away. And we will have a great victory.”
31 March, Trump says on TV, “It’s going away, hopefully by the end of the month”.
3 April, Trump says on TV, “It’s going to go away.”
So, that gives an idea of the facts to readers.
What clearly happened was that Trump did not manage to grasp what was happening. He still does not understand what a virus is. He thinks you can just drink Lysol to clear it out. He has no idea what projections for the exponential spread of a virus means. It will just go away in 15 days. He does not know what a health system is, and did not notice New York’s nearly got overwhelmed, as the burial services did. He only knows how to make money out of illness.
This would not be so important if he were not the US President, sitting with his grubby little fingers on the nuclear button.
Lindsey Collen, for LALIT
a personal view, typing with one hand only.
Correction added next day to second mention of Alex Azar.