Wherever the virus came from, the Wuhan market or the Wuhan lab, the American mainstream media exploited it awesomely to unseat president Donald Trump. Now, in a bizarre U-turn, President Joe Biden, after spending almost a year on the campaign trail to reject conspiracy theories about the virus, ordered his intelligence agencies to investigate and find where the virus really came from. The Chinese are claiming to have blown the whistle on the virus at the outset after they say it was transmitted from animal to human in a Wuhan market. The Americans now wonder if that was a cover-up for a Chinese mistake. Did the virus leak out of a Chinese lab called the Wuhan Institute of Virology or did it really transmit from an animal is the new debate in Washington DC.
Let us not confuse this. The American focus is not on finding if the virus was created as a bioweapon at the China-based “gain of function” research where scientists advertently try to make a pathogen more powerful. The Americans are rather trying to understand whether it was accidentally leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Many scientists and scholars are speaking about this as a possibility now and not before because they feared being dismissed as conspiracy theorists during the charged environment when Trump was in the Oval Office. Furthermore, the entire Trump noise was about deliberate and nefarious Chinese designs to hurt America with the virus. Scientists are now saying that the extreme views and noise of the Trump crowd drowned out the more measured discussion of the lab theory. Not a bioweapon, but a leak.
There is a strong resemblance here with 9/11. The CIA had picked up intelligence about an imminent attack on American soil, which the Jihadists had nicknamed as “the big wedding”. Before 9/11, there was a meeting in Kuala Lumpur regarding the attack on America, which the CIA had picked up intelligence about. The CIA also knew when the two bombers, Nawaf Al Hazmi and Khalid Al Mihdhar, landed in the US in January 2000. That was about 18 months before 9/11 but the CIA let them slip in their quest to catch the big fish. Also, the CIA did not share any of this intelligence with the FBI, whose job was to quell such threats domestically. That mistake caused the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans and countless other citizens globally, primarily Afghans and Pakistanis.
The Jihadists, just as the virus, were there, created and exploited for political and scientific interests, respectively. But slipping them loose caused devastation. First where it was let loose and then across the globe. The last sentence could be used for both the virus as well as Al Qaeda, except the virus travelled East to West and terrorism West to East.
Afghanistan and Pakistan never said well, let’s try to find where the mistake was made that led to the successful execution of 9/11, which resulted in an American war coming to their land bringing with it the escalation of terrorist attacks on their soil. The two countries or any number other didn’t investigate if the attack was some nefarious American design or negligence on part of the American intelligence agencies.
Eerily similar to Trump and his crowd’s claim that the virus was some nefarious Chinese design to achieve their ulterior motives was the claim that America brought down their own buildings in order to invade Afghanistan and control this entire region. Just as Trump’s conspiracy theory driven argument drowned out the more measured approach of separating the lab (Chinese mistake) from the Wuhan market (natural occurrence), the conspiracy theories of the American ulterior motives behind 9/11 also obscured the more real question of the mistake versus legitimate ignorance about the attack. The truth somehow always loses.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2021.