by Victor Davis Hanson
For over a year, the American establishment and media borg have ostracized anyone who dared to connect the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic with the Chinese military-sponsored, level-4 biosafety Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Then, suddenly and without apologies for their past demagoguery, “journalists” and “experts” concede that the nearby Wuhan lab may well be the most likely genesis.
Why the abrupt change?
Donald Trump is no longer president.
There is now no need for progressives to declare everything Trump once asserted as truth a lie. And that paradox includes Trump’s spring 2020 insistence that the lab, not a wet market of sliced-up bats, was the source of the outbreak.
The recent release of Anthony Fauci’s emails, along with the new information about Dr. Peter Daszak’s gain-of-function research, make it indisputable that both were knowingly channeling U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Chinese for coronavirus research in Wuhan.
So now what?
We are left with a number of lose-lose scenarios about China’s failed efforts to lie about the origins of COVID-19.
One, will China continually deny what is appearing to be undeniable? Perhaps, if we remember it is a country with a Communist Party hierarchy that once killed 60 million under Mao, and whose present apparat has put over 1 million Muslim Uyghurs into camps.
A stonewalling Beijing likely will conclude that the risk of appearing guilty for causing one of the greatest “natural” global disasters in a century is not nearly as destructive to its interests as admitting it.
Will China then wait us out, in O.J. Simpson fashion, denying the obvious facts—until wearied Americans move onto another of their media frenzies?
Or, two, could China confess that its SARS-CoV-2 virus was birthed in the Wuhan lab, but claim its appearance was a “joint” effort with the United States? They would then point to Fauci himself, who approved funds for Wuhan coronavirus enhancement to be channeled by Daszak. The Chinese would further insist their combined efforts were aimed at finding a “cure” for coronavirus epidemics. And thus Beijing should not be blamed—or at least not solely blamed.
Beijing could retort that it, too, was misled by its own sloppy researchers. Or the communist government might even preposterously answer that its prior code of silence was meant to shield the role of U.S. funders of the pandemic disaster.
Americans then would end up wondering to what degree our own doctors and institutions, at the highest levels of the U.S. government and of global medical establishment, not only lied to us throughout the crisis, but, in some bizzarro way, may have shared responsibility for the engineering of the Satanic virus itself.
Or three, Chinese officials could privately wink and nod to our intelligence and military communities that their researchers were, in fact, pursuing “legitimate” viral gain-of-function research until a terrible Chernobyl-like accident took place. Such things have also happened, they might unofficially remind our officials, at Bhopal, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima. In back channels Beijing then would regret the resulting global economic catastrophe, the millions dead, the even more millions sickened, the billions of lives harmed by the lockdown, and the apparent 2020-21 American political, economic, social and cultural meltdown.
China additionally would lament its “mistaken” lack of transparency and the “confusion” that accounted for misleading the world. And yet China would still smile, and sort of promise off the record that such an unforeseen disaster would never, ever—or at least almost never—happen again.
Four, we tend to block out the unthinkable. Nonetheless, in a few weeks more information from within China could leak out that the virus was a joint weaponized creation of civilian virologists and the Chinese military. How the virus escaped would not be clear, but millions the world over would suspect the worst of any involvement of the Chinese military.
In all these scenarios, we are left with the suspicion that an embryonic engineered virus was mysteriously released that did more damage to the Western world than any weapon deliberately employed since World War II. And we will become terrified that, in theory, it could happen again. More importantly, we still have no idea what to do: whether to act in a punitive or deterrent fashion, or both or neither.
Washington strategists are no doubt gaming all these rumors and unthinkables.
In some way, many Americans are naïvely hopeful that COVID-19 was a one-off, ill-thought-out, gain-of-function laboratory accident.
But some are most terrified that it was a proto-bioweapon that, regardless of whether it was accidentally released at some point, became a “never let a crisis go to waste” moment—an attitude that not only explained Chinese lying, but also the entire terrible year of 2020, and the near destruction of American society itself.
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Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004.