Saturday, April 18, 2020

Is It Racist And Right-Wing To Call Out China For The Wuhan Coronavirus?

strategic-culture |   John Birchers are consistent about one thing and that is their abject racism. Just as they condemned UNESCO and the FAO in the 1970s because they had African and Arab directors-general – Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow of Senegal and Edouard Saouma of Lebanon, respectively – they are now condemning the WHO because it has an Ethiopian director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a famed microbiologist from Ethiopia. Trump and his rabid far-right supporters have accused Dr. Tedros of being an agent=of-influence for China as part of the neo-John Birchers overall campaign to assign the cause of the coronavirus pandemic to China. The parents and grandparents of these John Birchers once blamed the “Communists” and the “Soviet Union” for being behind the fluoridation of America’s public water supply.

The Birchers even had a degree of success with the Bill Clinton administration, which withdrew the U.S. from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Clinton’s reason for withdrawal was pure Bircher logic: they “lacked purpose” for the United States.

Today, acting under the auspices of front organizations like the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society – both bankrolled by the Charles Koch Foundation and the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation – the neo-John Birchers accuse China of being behind the coronavirus pandemic by intentionally or accidentally releasing the virus as a biological weapon. In lashing out at China, the far-right, including senior members of the Trump administration and Republican senators like Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have also placed Tedros and the “China-influenced” WHO in their gunsights.

The WHO is not the first UN agency to be singled out by the far-right as an instrument of China. The Heritage Foundation, whose white papers are often transformed into Trump administration policy, criticized the election of Qu Dongyu as director-general of FAO in 2019. Heritage blasted the UN for electing Qu as the fourth Chinese national to head a UN specialized agency. Chinese directors-general also lead the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), UNIDO, and the International  Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Four months before the first coronavirus case was reported in Wuhan, China, Heritage and its neo-John Bircher allies had convinced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a Tea Party founder, to question Chinese influence at the UN. Heritage made several demands to its fellow-travelers in the Trump administration. They included: 1) tasking the U.S. intelligence community to report on Chinese objectives, tactics, and influence in international organizations; 2) Conduct an objective cost-benefit analysis of U.S. participation in each international organization;  3) the U.S. should focus its effort and resources on countering Chinese influence, advancing U.S. policy preferences, and increasing employment of U.S. nationals, particularly in senior positions, in those organizations whose remit affects key U.S. interests; 4) identify and carefully vet highly qualified candidates for leadership positions in international organizations well in advance of elections; 5) Counter Chinese financial and political pressure on foreign governments; 6) Press the UN, the specialized agencies, and UN funds and programs to increase employment of U.S. nationals; and 7) Elevate multilateral affairs and international organizations within the State Department by establishing an Under Secretary for Multilateral Affairs. 8) the U.S. should take all reasonable steps to ensure that an American or national of a like-minded country becomes the next International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general.

As can be seen with Heritage’s bulletized attack on the UN, the current Trump administration attack on UN agency directors like Dr. Tedros was already in the planning stages and was part of the old John Birch playbook of either bending the UN and its specialized agencies to U.S. will or withdraw from them or cut off dues payments. Trump carried out his John Bircher-initiated orders by threatening to put a hold on U.S. payments to the WHO, even as the organization has become cash-strapped over its campaign to curb the coronavirus around the world.