Given the world’s bitter experience with COVID-19, sane human beings know epidemics are major national and international security threats. Historians can cite the facts. Plagues harmed ancient Rome and China. The Black Death ravaged medieval Europe. A scar on an Egyptian mummy indicates smallpox haunted planet Earth for at least 3,000 years.
However, the combination of 20th-century medical advances such as more vaccines, antibiotics, and better dental care; remarkable public health improvements, e.g., clean water; innovative agriculture leading to better diets (the Green Revolution); and quick international communication that facilitated monitoring and reporting disease outbreaks created a false sense of safety, particularly in wealthy nations. Flush toilets, good sewer systems, rodent and mosquito control—these items take money.
The yellow fever vaccine and malaria pills made the Caribbean and Central America tourist havens. On occasion, the Ebola virus or a swine flu eruption burst the bubble and generated headlines. The World Health Organization and national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would monitor and advise. But by and large, the great Spanish flu epidemic following World War I became a historical footnote.
Sept. 11 demonstrated jumbo jets are potential intercontinental ballistic missiles. Tourists heading for Jamaica could have a ticket on a terrorist missile.
The coronavirus demonstrates epidemics still kill millions, smash economies, and seed chaotic conditions that can bring politically and economically fragile countries to the brink of revolt or mass starvation. A dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases fueled recent protests in Tunisia. Peru has suspended numerous development projects. The virus has reduced food production in sub-Saharan Africa.
The coronavirus may also demonstrate that alleged medical advances can also breed monsters, particularly in opaque totalitarian states like communist China. Lacking free speech, dictatorships have few systemic corrective feedback mechanisms. In China’s case, the leaders are imperious authoritarians who fear loss of face; they therefore hide internal mistakes, no matter how globally significant.
Eighteen months ago, “correct-thinking people” and media like The New York Times and The Washington Post dismissed the possibility of a viral leak from Wuhan’s Level 4 bio-lab as conspiracy theory folly, in a nutshell. “Correct thinkers” included President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Harris all but said she wouldn’t trust a vaccine produced by the Trump administration. Now she bewails vaccine hesitancy, without confessing her own self-serving conspiracy theory folly.
In February 2020, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) suggested the virus may have leaked from the Wuhan lab. Yes, courage and foresight. At the time, however, biased leftist media, from The New York Times to CNN to Xinhua, ridiculed Cotton. Xinhua is the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) official news agency. Xinhua provides some honest coverage, but when the CCP dictatorship says jump, the Xinhua frog spews CCP propaganda.
In June of this year, new evidence emerged that the virus did indeed escape from the laboratory.
On Aug. 2, the House Foreign Affairs Committee minority staff (minority at the moment means Republican) issued an updated report titled “The Origins of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, Including the Roles of the Chinese Communist Party and the World Health Organization.”
The update hasn’t received a lot of notice. But the biased left-wing media have a political investment in ignoring it. Remember, they dismissed Hunter Biden’s laptop as Russian disinformation. The laptop is criminal evidence. Apparently, some of Hunter’s laptop files indicate he has connections to CCP-financed companies.
What does the House Foreign Affairs Committee minority staff update say regarding the coronavirus pandemic?
I’ll paraphrase and quote. The preponderance of evidence suggests the virus “was accidentally released from a Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory sometime prior to September 12, 2019.” The virus “was genetically manipulated” and likely collected in Yunnan province “between 2012 and 2015.” Chinese researchers, “officials within the CCP, and potentially American citizens directly engaged in efforts to obfuscate information related to the origins of the virus and to suppress public debate of a possible lab leak.”
It is time for the Biden administration to take this report seriously. The U.S. government, American businesses, and individual Americans harmed by the virus should sue the CCP and its various corporate cutouts for gross negligence and criminal cover-up. Seek triple damages.
Austin Bay is a colonel (ret.) in the U.S. Army Reserve, author, syndicated columnist, and teacher of strategy and strategic theory at the University of Texas–Austin. His latest book is “Cocktails from Hell: Five Wars Shaping the 21st Century.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.