Epidemics are like any natural disaster. First of all, there is the human connecting effect of hardship. Governments, intellectuals, and pastors summon solidarity and helpfulness. And people are growing beyond themselves, health workers and many others are doing extraordinary things for the community. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet calls for emergency aid for 38 particularly vulnerable countries in the so-called Third World. But who pays the two billion dollars remains unclear.
But those who were the first to come forward with concrete help are China, Russia and Cuba. And in the West, the discourse of humanitarian solidarity in the crisis quickly comes to an end.
China-the realm of evil
It started with the US president insisting on calling the Corona Virus “Chinese virus”. The Yellow Peril known from the Cold War is an integral part of Trump’s narrative on foreign policy, even as Chinese scientists work efficiently with US experts in the fight against Covid-19. And even if the Chinese come to the aid of the West with doctors and medical equipment.
Some Swiss media are currently being dragged along by Washington in a campaign against China, Russia and Cuba. On 11 February, the NZZ published an article about doctors in China who have acted as whistleblowers in the past decades and have been punished with “imprisonment, exile and death” for warning of illness. Educational content of the article: do not let yourself be deceived by Chinese helpfulness. China is the realm of evil.
In “Weltwoche”, a lawyer working for US law firms named Gordon Chang has his say. The man of Chinese descent has been publishing treatises for years in which he talks about the imminent collapse of the regime in Beijing. At present, he is one of the spokesmen on the TV channels who accuses China of hiding the outbreak of the epidemic for weeks. He also repeatedly suggests that the Virus may have escaped from a" high-security laboratory “in Wuhan. According to Chang,” the Regime must be held accountable.
What Western media persistently conceal is the fact that the Chinese authorities officially informed the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31 that several cases of severe pneumonia had occurred in Wuhan, the pathogen of which could not yet be identified. The news went through all news agencies. An epidemiologist from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who had worked at the Chinese agency for Disease Control and whose job it was to pass on information about dangerous outbreaks, had been removed by the US government in July and the Position was not filled.
To the accusations of censorship and cover-up that soon appeared in the Western Mainstream media, Beijing responded with the polemic that the Virus had been “introduced from the outside.” Journalists who were accredited to US media and published unwanted material were expelled. However, the reason given was that representatives of Chinese media in Washington were classified as agents and excluded from White House press conferences.
In fact, the Chinese leadership initially kept secret information about the outbreak of the pandemic. She has admitted this, admitted mistakes and publicly apologized for them. However, it can be seen that official information policy in a country with one and a half billion inhabitants probably has different criteria than in the canton of Appenzell. A sudden and not carefully clarified alarm could have triggered mass panic in China with devastating economic consequences.
Own failures hidden
As far as the accusation of hesitation and wrong reaction is concerned, the West and especially countries such as the USA, Great Britain, Austria, Sweden or Germany should turn to their own door and hold back. US President Donald Trump first of all declared that one should not worry. Boris Johnson advised the British at the beginning of the pandemic that the best thing to do was not to do anything and let the contamination run so that general immunity would soon arise. In the Tyrolean ski resort of Ischgl, the mountain railways and Parties ran for more than a week, when it had long been known that the Ballermann Resort was a Hotspot where thousands had become infected. In Samnaun, which is connected to Ischgl by lifts, the tourism director said in mid-March, according to the “Bündner Tagblatt”: “our ski area will remain open for another month and a half.” To keep the guests, they even offered ski passes for adults at the children’s rate.
On 25 March, the NZZ headlined " everything done right – says the Propaganda. The Chinese Communist Party is trying to distract the population from mistakes at the beginning of the pandemic.“However, the same NZZ does not complain that Daniel Koch from the Swiss Federal Office of Health blocks all questions about the Swiss authorities' failures with the sentence that it is not now the time to talk about the past, but one must now look into the future.
In this guest commentary in the NZZ of 30 March, the historian Bernd Roeck shows the history of the scapegoats and images of the enemy over the centuries.
Campaign against Cuba
A similar media campaign as against Beijing is currently underway against Cuba. The communist government has sent experts who have gained experience with the Ebola epidemic in Africa to Italy and other countries. In cooperation with the World Health Organization. Of course, this could mean that the great communist Satan Cuba would get a friendly Image at the moment. Consequently, the government in Washington immediately called for the rejection of Cuban aid.
The U.S. Embassy in Havana warned against cooperation with Cuba, because the Cuban government only sends its health workers around the world to get dollars. Also, Cuban doctors and nurses “on international missions would not be paid their salary and they would be forced to work in terrible conditions.”
The government in Havana has rejected the latter as propaganda lies. The former is true, but has never been denied by the Cuban government. Cuban doctors have been used in 164 countries in the past half century.
In countries such as Venezuela or Brazil, Cuba was partly paid for with oil. But in the poorest countries of Africa, Cuban aid was free. According to the Cuban Ministry of Health, the international health missions bring Cuba just over six billion dollars a year. That would be twice as much as the export income from raw sugar, tobacco, Nickel and Rum if tourism were excluded.
The détente between Cuba and the US initiated by President Obama is being reversed step by step by the Trump administration. For example, US tourists are no longer allowed to stay in state Hotels that are financially linked to the Cuban military. Money from the US should not " reach a Regime that does not meet the basic conditions for a free and just society,” says the Trump administration.
The US agriculture, hotel chains, pharmaceutical and computer industries see it differently. They are losing jobs and money through Trump’s policies. According to 2016 surveys, 65 percent of Americans welcomed Obama’s Cuba thaw. Even in Miami, once the strongest bastion of Fidel Castro’s opponents, 63 percent of Americans of Cuban origin are in favor of lifting the economic blockade that has lasted for half a century.
In Switzerland, fear of Washington dominates. Swiss banks refuse even simple money transfers to Cuba on the grounds that they are forced to do so by the US Embargo.
It sounds like a joke, but it’s no laughing matter when a country like the United States, where more than 25 million people do not have health insurance, tries in today’s Situation to take down the health authorities in socialist Cuba. Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States. The island may have a lot of home-made problems with its planned economy, but despite the U.S. economic embargo, it still has free health care for everyone, including all vaccinations and cancer screening.
Help from Russia: criticism instead of gratitude
Of course, Russia, the other Great Satan, could not remain untouched in the political Poker around the pandemic. All the more so since the corona Virus seems to have the insolence to geostrategically serve the Russian. The gigantic NATO maneuver march on Russia’s western borders had to be called off as a result of Covid-19.
On March 25, the SRF-Info-magazine “Echo der Zeit” stated that Russia apparently benefits quite a bit from its quick help for Italy: “Russia suddenly appears to be a helpful and solidary power.” Of course that must not be. So the Russia correspondent concludes: “there is of course state political calculation behind this.” What should mean as much as: Putin’s power politics in this case shows itself in the soft imperialist way.the Russian uses the pandemic to improve his bad Image and to strengthen ideological access to the West.
This may even be true, but it is legitimate. If I were to claim here that the Western development projects in Africa, Asia or Latin America financed by taxpayers money are nothing more than state-political calculations, political image maintenance or even power politics and export promotion for Swiss industry, I would be answered that the matter is probably somewhat more complex.
But as soon as it comes to Russia, China or Cuba, the new Cold Warriors blow all the fuse. Question: if China, Russia or Cuba help us with their Know-how to save human lives, would it not be appropriate to forget the geostrategic doctrines for the moment? The answer is yes. It would be a sign of civilisation and decency.
But when it comes to the geopolitical strategies of the arms sector and its Lobby called NATO, obviously enemy images and scenarios of the threat must be respected. As enemy images are irreplaceable, in order to bring the annual increase in the defence budget by the parliaments and to manage the money of the taxpayers into the pockets of the many Western corporations which profit from the upgrade.