The Trump administration seeks to blame 'someone' for its messed up response to the Covid-19 pandemic. After first lauding China for its fight against the epidemic it started to bash it. A phonecall between Xi and Trump shut that down for a while. It was then the WHO which was blamed. After the Trump administration de-funded it there was little left to do. So it is now back to China.
The Trump administration is pressing its intelligence services to find or make up evidence that China is guilty of releasing the virus:
Senior Trump administration officials have pushed American spy agencies to hunt for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that a government laboratory in Wuhan, China, was the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, according to current and former American officials. The effort comes as President Trump escalates a public campaign to blame China for the pandemic.
Most intelligence agencies remain skeptical that conclusive evidence of a link to a lab can be found, and scientists who have studied the genetics of the coronavirus say that the overwhelming probability is that it leapt from animal to human in a nonlaboratory setting, as was the case with H.I.V., Ebola and SARS.
A former intelligence official described senior aides’ repeated emphasis of the lab theory as “conclusion shopping,” a disparaging term among analysts that has echoes of the Bush administration’s 2002 push for assessments saying that Iraq had weapons of mass of destruction and links to Al Qaeda, perhaps the most notorious example of the politicization of intelligence.
The intelligence folks were so concerned about the pressure that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence published a statement which says that it believes that the virus was a natural development and that it does not know if the outbreak occurred due to a natural contact or due to a lab accident.
The chance of a natural contact is of course infinitely higher than that of a lab accident:
The odds were astronomical against a lab release as opposed to an event in nature, said Kristian G. Andersen, the lead author of the paper published in Nature Medicine and a specialist in infectious disease at the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California.
The SARS-CoV viruses originally developed in bats but are unlikely to have jumped from there to humans. Some researchers have noticed that raccoon dogs are known to carry bat sourced coronaviruses and that they have the specific ACE2 receptors that would have allowed the SARS-CoV-19 virus, as well as the original SARS virus, to use them as an intermediate hosts.
Raccoon dogs are bread in Japan and China for their fur. The largest farms breeding raccoon dogs in China are said to be in Hubei province where the outbreak occurred. A wide screening for viruses in the raccoon dogs on those farms could establish a potential natural chain.
But the administrations is not interested in the natural source of the virus. It is already thinking about how it can 'punish' China:
Senior officials across multiple government agencies are expected to meet Thursday to begin mapping out a strategy for seeking retaliatory measures against China, two people with knowledge of the meeting said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose the planning. Officials in American intelligence agencies are also involved in the effort.
President Trump has fumed to aides and others in recent days about China, blaming the country for withholding information about the virus, and has discussed enacting dramatic measures that would probably lead to retaliation by Beijing, these people said.
In private, Trump and aides have discussed stripping China of its “sovereign immunity,” aiming to enable the U.S. government or victims to sue China for damages. George Sorial, who formerly served as a top executive at the Trump Organization and is involved in a class-action lawsuit against China, told The Washington Post he and senior White House officials have discussed limiting China’s sovereign immunity. Legal experts say an attempt to limit China’s sovereign immunity would be extremely difficult to accomplish and may require congressional legislation.
Some administration officials have also discussed having the United States cancel part of its debt obligations to China, two people with knowledge of internal conversations said. It was not known if the president has backed this idea.
Both ideas are as nuts as Joe Biden's anti-China antics. If the U.S. denies 'sovereign immunity' to China dozens of countries will use the precedence to do the same with regards to the U.S. In December 1944 during the firebombing of Wuhan the U.S. killed more than 40.000 Chinese people. How will it pay for that? Should the rest of the world sue the U.S. for the up to 575,000 global death and the economic damage the H1N1 swine flu pandemic caused since 2009? That pandemic was was first detected in southern California. No U.S. financial asset in China or elsewhere would be safe from being confiscated to compensate for that and other damage U.S. neglect and wars have caused.
The defaulting on U.S. sovereign debt can likewise not be done selectively. It would be the end of the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency.
Yesterday Trump contradicted his intelligence services when he claimed that he had seen evidence that the virus came from a laboratory:
Asked if he had seen anything giving him a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the outbreak, Trump replied, "Yes, I have."
He refused to give details.
However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated he had not seen definitive evidence.
"We don't know precisely where it began," he said.
Meanwhile the Chinese news agency Xinhua published an funny animation video that empathizes and mocks the contradictions of U.S. statements about the pandemic. Every warning that China had offered from early on was originally rejected by the Trump administration:
China: We discovered a new virus.
America: So what?
China: It's Dangerous
America: It's only a Flu
China: Wear a Mask
America: Don't wear a Mask
An economic conflict or even a physical war against China (and its ally Russia) is one the U.S. can not win. The U.S. must stop to blame China for exposing the fraud of 'American exceptionalism'. The U.S. has done that itself. It is not even Trump who is guilty of it as the relative decline of U.S. statesmanship and capabilities has developed over decades and independent of party policy preferences.
It will require some self reflection to counter that decline. Unfortunately neither side of the aisle seems willing to engage in it.