Implications of the China Virus

by John W. Swails, III and Joel M. Swails (June 2020)

Don't Speak, Paulina Siniatkina, 2016
An April 2nd article by William Gensert in proposes that China is preparing to attack the US militarily. He supports this thesis with several cogent reasons why this is possible, even probable. There is no question that he lays out some very definite and credible points and presents a possibility that we as a nation should take seriously and consider in our preparations. The old adage is “to secure peace, prepare for war.” We would like to offer a few other possibilities.
Let us assume for the moment that the virus called COVID-19 was a naturally occurring pathogen that has been genetically modified by human agency, to make it more useful as a weapon—"weaponized,” if you will. Indications of that possibility are emerging. Dr. Francis Boyle, a leading authority of bio-weapons (he drafted the U.S. legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, that was approved unanimously by both Houses of the U.S. Congress) discusses the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China and the Biosafety Level 4 laboratory (BSL-4) from which he believes the infectious disease emanated. He believes the virus is a potentially lethal biological warfare weapon or dual use biowarfare weapons agent genetically modified with function-change properties, which would explain why the Chinese government immediately initiated a concerted and comprehensive cover up and is now taking drastic measures to contain it. If taken in conjunction with the report from Italy some days ago that China was experimenting with this virus in 2015, the evidence begins to mount. The one thing we all can agree on is that the point of origin of the virus is in Wuhan where the Wuhan BSL-4 lab is located. This is a specially designated World Health Organization (WHO) research lab which has led Dr. Boyle to contend that the WHO knows “full well” what is occurring. The disappearance of 12 doctors who commented publicly on the virus adds a sinister touch. Dr. Boyle’s position is that the virus did not originate in the wet market down the street, a view which is supported by an epidemiologist quoted by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) who said “the virus went into” the market before it came out to spread worldwide. This neither directly supports nor negates Gensert’s position but is among many important considerations of the current issues, perhaps paramount on that list.
The next step is to have a look at the nature of China as a country. From our vantage point, China is insulated from public scrutiny and is controlled to a degree which Americans are unfamiliar with. That promotes facile and sweeping generalities about China itself. In that regard, several factors need to be addressed. One is the presence in China of a large and growing number of Christians, Evangelical Christians, a term notorious in the media in various contexts. For instance, a recent column in the New York Times attempts to blame Evangelical Christians and their presumed antipathy for science as a major contributor to the present virus event. The definition of Evangelical Christianity is two-fold: one is an experience of faith (different from merely membership in an organization) and, two, a reverence and respect for the authority of Scripture. Expatriate personnel who have lived and worked in China report churches which are registered with the government and include attendance by Chinese citizens. There are estimates of as many as 150 million registered and self-proclaimed Christians in China. Unreported Christians may send the number far higher. These Christians have seen their faith develop in conditions of repression and persecution and, as a result, have a level of commitment to their faith much deeper than we in the West are accustomed to encountering. There is also evidence that some of these believers have risen to high levels of leadership in business, politics, (both regional and national) and even the military. Inferences may be drawn from the presence of such a large body of Evangelical Christians, whose precepts, based on Scripture, stand in stark contrast to the totalitarian demands of the Communist party. It is also pertinent to mention the unrest in China, for instance, among the Uighurs in western China who have been at odds with the Communist state in recent days. Add to that the ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong, and widespread full-spectrum effects of COVID-19. The point here is that the image of China as a monolithic entity marching in lockstep is not entirely valid. China has its own long list of infrastructural, logistical, ideological, and economic challenges pertaining to numerous factors which the Communist regime is unable to contain or manage.
Let’s pause and look for a moment at a possible military situation. The U.S. military is unparalleled in size and ability. We have been blessed, and we use that term advisedly, with weapons of amazing precision and incredible lethality and with men and women of intelligence, courage, and honor to employ them. From inside the U.S., Americans often are distracted by internal discord and are plagued with uncertainty when considering external threats, which causes a propensity to under-estimate and overlook the reality of where we stand in the world and current affairs. From the point of view of our adversaries, the U.S. military is a massive and unmovable force much more formidable than we are often able to recognize from their point of view. The terrorists who would gladly strike us savagely, if they could, know--they know--that they cannot defeat the U.S. military in a straight-up confrontation. Our nation-state adversaries also know that any defeat of the U.S. military would be incidental and short-lived and would not have lasting strategic significance. Their only hope of victory is that the U.S. grows so complacent and yielding—they wait until we render ourselves hors-de-combat, unfit for combat, by reason of malignant and broad-spectrum loss of will, ability, and resources. These conditions are still not easily achieved at present. While our economy is currently being affected, desirable effects would not be achieved by a cataclysmic and nation-unifying unilateral military attack on the U.S. by China, which history suggests could have similar effects to Pearl Harbor, for example. Even in consideration of potential acts of aggression that may not meet the threshold of an act of war, a technique we have seen time and time again from the Russians and is a significant part of the Russian national strategy, China must make critical calculations of their actions which may test those limits—not just based on the potent U.S. instruments of national power, but also include a current American administration with the resolve to take decisive action. Our enemy’s desire to ascertain and even to manipulate that threshold notwithstanding, they know that to manage a strategic military defeat of the U.S. two factors must be ensured prior to military confrontation.
In this case, number one, the U.S. must be divided internally. Our enemies all know how that worked in the Vietnam War. National division is not a new objective for our foes: rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and nation states. Significant effort and resources have been brought to bear for decades by entities within and without to keep our country divided. Distracted by these divisions, demonstrations in our country (violently in some cases) disrupt meaningful discourse with apparent impunity. On top of that, public discussion is diverted from immediate threats to identity politics and other interference. In the absence of productive civil speech and by directing focus to name-calling and accusations of all sorts, racism included, it could be imagined that external parties would consider the U.S. vulnerable. In that light, the U.S. may seem hamstrung to deal with and oppose external threats, but that isn’t necessarily the case. While our reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic may make us appear even further consumed, a different reality on the ground may be exhibited in part by the growing national support for Trump’s COVID-19 response which includes major economic innovation.
It is most notable that the targeted and strategic information operations (IO) campaign being carried out currently by China, has been in recent days recognized and acknowledged by elements of our mainstream media. While some media outlets are taking the bait—hook, line, and sinker, as usual—it is remarkable that national attention is being drawn to this technique, this attack. These are not just benign efforts to save face in front of a media-censored populace or limited only to bolster support and solidarity in preparation for national military action by the Communist state. This IO campaign should not simply be considered pesky falsehoods and rumors—harmless rhetoric for which there is no recourse. Some might even suggest that it is expected of a communist regime, a censor-state such as China, and is an acceptable procedure for them to mislead the world and their own people in order to build themselves up or hide unpleasant truths. These assumptions fall short of the whole story. To some it might even seem silly to attempt to hold a nation state accountable for misleading the press and the public, but remember that one of our vulnerabilities is internal division and we are being targeted in that regard, not just as a nation who protects the press, but as a sovereign nation and a people whose soul and social fabric is being continually and purposefully eroded. This principle renders the information operation in the current case as strategic and, therefore, undeniably offensive in nature. They are meant to affect us, to foment division in the country and, aided by a misled and complicit media, these divisions are promoted and publicized: sectarian, racial, economic, and most importantly, political. They (China) are learning from the Russians, who have set a high standard for a comprehensively implemented and centrally focused and directed IO campaign against the U.S. Disinformation of this magnitude and distinction is not a desperate grasp for some silver lining; China is choosing an offensive strategy because they know it will have the effects that they desire with little subsequent risk. Whereas, direct military confrontation would potentially over-stress their own divisions and conditions. Those desired effects may not include a preparation for the physical battlefield, but are certainly worth considering, not only as a threat, but as a targeted offensive in and of itself and should be dealt with as such.
Assuredly, solutions are plotted on both sides for military possibilities, regardless of the current status. At present, given that there is insufficient reliable attestation to determine whether there was a targeted dispersal of the pathogen, all conclusions must remain tentative for now; however, the IO campaign is a targeted attack against our Nation, and it matters not whether it is a part of a larger strategic planned dispersal of an agent or, rather, a “crime of opportunity” taken after an accidental or unplanned dispersal of COVID-19. It is important to note that this information campaign is not a military attack but a definite disinformation campaign targeting our national interests, and, if successful, paves the way to even greater vulnerabilities. The IO campaign itself, while unmistakable, may leave some room for underestimation by design. The obvious and inescapable conclusion is that we are under attack, perhaps not militarily yet, but definitely above and beyond the pathogen itself, designed to not only damage our interests, but to promote their own ends at the expense of ours. If we discover conclusively that the pathogen was deliberately developed and dispersed as a strategic offensive, then an entirely different discussion will occur.
Second, our adversaries—those who wish us ill, including the the terrorists especially—know that the U.S. military will not come out to oppose their nefarious provocations, if the U.S economy is destabilized sufficiently. If we don’t possess the economic base of support, we will not have the ability to deploy against them. They have written about this, accepting it as a fact for years going back into the 90’s. It is clear from their writings that a main target is the U.S. economy, has been all along.
The Chinese know this as well. In that light, it is possible to regard COVID-19 as a weapon deployed against the U.S. economy to so weaken the U.S. that measures against us may be taken with mitigated fear of our reaction. This is a plausible conclusion and may have been, in fact, one of the reasons for the development of the virus in its current state, in the first place. The problem, however, is the timing of its occurrence. It came out way too early. Think of the effects of the pandemic occurring nearer to our election. Instead, the attack found the U.S. with a President who is resolute and industrious. Who ever heard of a politician keeping his promises as this one has?
We agree that the historical analogy put forward by Mr. Gensert is valid. Furthermore, we agree that his reasoning relating to a possible Chinese military attack is also plausible. Going further, we accept, or more correctly, hope, that officials in the U.S. security and military leadership are aware of this as well and are taking precautions to ensure that we are not disagreeably surprised as we were at Pearl Harbor or on 9/11. In that light, we make the following suggestion: If indeed COVID-19 was a weapon developed to cripple the U.S. and lay waste to our economy, it was uniquely qualified to do just that in a covert way. It could be assumed that it was meant to be implemented in conjunction with a focused economic attack, perhaps something to do with our currency. It may have been, however, deployed prematurely, perhaps by accident or by someone or ones who wished to thwart the malign purpose of the pathogen, and make sure that this has occurred in such a way that all tracing of the source of the pathogen points directly and unmistakably to China. In that regard, take notice of the flurry of Chinese propaganda to spin the virus as a U.S. military development or our general media portrayal as some sort of “racist” reaction to a naturally occurring phenomenon; these are examples of the current nationally directed IO campaign mentioned earlier. The loose journalistic standards of our “fake news” make us much more susceptible to this kind of attack. The elements of the Chinese information campaign have been seized upon eagerly by a panting, breathless media intent on undermining Trump in every way possible.
To those who would point out recent media admissions that President Trump is doing well, for example even Acosta said semi-nice things about him, we would warn: Do not believe them. They are tone-deaf to the U.S. public, assuredly, but even they can see how low they have sunk in public opinion, so they are “playing nice”, or at least nicer, for the time being. Meanwhile, the media, for the most part, are ignoring the actual threats and possibilities emerging. They are waiting, coiled like a viper, for an opportunity to resume their attack against Trump on the slightest provocation and at that point proclaim to all: See! This proves what we have said about him all along.
If it becomes proven conclusively that China developed COVID-19 as a potential weapon and it was released upon the world and the U.S., it would be an act of war without parallel against our population and economy and someone must be held accountable. It may be that our leaders are already contemplating such a prospect. If so, we put forward that their consideration is not primarily military because the attack was not military. It is economic. The loss of life is severe and growing worse which cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Beyond that, the pervasive uncertainty with a capricious and unrelenting pathogen plaguing our national consciousness is so immense, most are having difficulty recognizing the possibility that this whole event was a targeted economic attack and not a physical one. If indeed it was economic, a targeted economic response would be in order, leading up to and including the cancellation of some or all U.S. debt to China, and other financial measures. It would be admirable if China publicly accepted their fair share of the blame in this situation, to whatever actual degree they hold responsibility, and offer financial compensation equitable to the truly mind-boggling consequences worldwide.
It is our belief that we will look back on this period with gratitude. We are facing a vicious biological threat and are battling with all our might and will. We will prevail and that victory will become evident and obvious to all in a short time. In the meantime, we are being prepared for future biological attack, which would include pathogens much more pervasive and deadly than COVID-19. These agents do exist, and it is certain that some of them are in unfriendly hands. Why they have not been used to date we attribute to the restraining hand of the Almighty. At the same time, we have been shockingly awakened from our torpor and brought to face our vulnerabilities. We observe encouraging signs that lessons are being learned and absorbed all over and our priorities are being re-examined and ordered appropriately. And to top it all off, the nation is becoming unified in a way we haven’t seen since 9/11. All that is good and should make any enemies pause and reflect and proceed with caution.
John Washington Swails III, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Israel and Middle East Studies at Oral Roberts University and has taught on the Middle East for years.

Joel M. Swails is a security analyst.
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast
2 Jun 2020
Send an emailSusan S.
Excellent article!

2 Jun 2020
Send an emailRev Felicia Veal Bush
Excellent analysis. Rings true and brilliantly written.

3 Jun 2020
Send an emailJohn C Henry
Excellent write up on much of what is currently on the table. I have thought that if this was a weapon put to purpose, the best way to have administered it would be to be seen as a 'mistake' in order to appear non-confrontational while at the same time wreaking as much havoc as possible. After all, losing a million of your own people is not a great tragedy when you have nearly 1.5 billion. The other thing to consider is that this pandemic shows everyone how vulnerable we are, how many can be infected and die, and how easy it is to transmit something like this globally. So many Hollywood movies have exploited this theme. The next time this happens, another 'bad actor' will simply find a thousand die-hard martyrs, self infect and roam the planet in glee. That is MY nightmare.

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