Colombo, March 27 (SAM): Global and regional developments taking place in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic illustrate French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s very perceptive remark that “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”
Even as the grim situation created by the pandemic is affecting the world’s powers, internal and international conflicts are continuing with the same intensity as before. National and geo-strategic priorities have not changed despite fervent appeals for international and inter-communal unity and cooperation. Calls for revision of goals in view of the grave threat to humanity as a whole, are going unheeded.
According to “World Meters Info” (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/) the global situation is indeed grim with 468, 253 positive coronavirus cases and 21, 184 deaths. Deaths per million are: 2 for China; 124 for Italy; 3 for the US; 78 for Italy; and 25 for Iran. Public health researchers in Bangladesh have warned that nearly 600,000 Bangladeshis will have died by the time the epidemic fades out in a few months, if the government does not intervene with a range of measures.
Funds for COVID-19 containment have been announced, but these have been meager. Follow up actions are not in evidence although the virus has been playing havoc since February.
US Fails To Play Its Due Role
Kevin Baron, writing in “Defense One” website castigated US President Donald Trump for pursuing his pet policy of “America First”, when, as President of the most powerful nation with the widest reach in the world, he should be leading a global campaign against the virus and earning the name of being the world’s savior.
According to Baron, this is what Trump said in the context of the viral pandemic: “ “We should never be reliant on a foreign country for the means of our own survival. This crisis has underscored just how critical it is to have strong borders.”
“Our goal for the future must be to have American medicine for American patients, American supplies for American hospitals, and American equipment for our great American heroes,” Trump intoned.
Baron points out that this is indeed Trump’s old refrain, having been elected on this platform in 2016, and hoping to be elected on the same platform later this year. “It is part of the populist rejection of globalization, which is quite grounded on plenty of evidence. In the 2020 race, nearly all of the Democratic candidates echoed Trump or his sentiments with their intense focus on domestic issues,” Baron explains.
Legal Row With China
Meanwhile, the US is continuing its confrontation with China on the origin of the coronavirus. A Washington-based lawyer, Larry Klayman, has filed a USD 20 trillion lawsuit against China for the “creation and the release of the novel coronavirus” that has infected more than 334,000 people globally. Klayman and his advocacy group ‘Freedom Watch and Buzz Photos’, a Texas-based company, has filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, alleging that the novel coronavirus was “designed by China to be a biological weapon of war”, and that whether or not the country intended to release it, China violated “US law, international laws, treaties, and norms.”
“Because China has agreed by treaty to outlaw such weapons, these actions cannot be official governmental actions of the People`s Republic of China and are not subject to any possible claim of legal immunity from suit,” the lawsuit said. It went on to allege that the purpose of maintaining the virus within the laboratory was to use it to “kill US citizens and other persons and entities in nations perceived to be an enemy of of China.”
The complaint has alleged that the virus was “released by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, located in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated”.
The US government had already blamed Beijing for the coronavirus pandemic after the Chinese government held American soldiers responsible for bringing the contagious disease to China. The Administration Of US President Donald Trump had pointed out that the Chinese government covered up the outbreak of the virus for a long time and even punished the whistle-blowers who tried to expose it, the Americans pointed out.
Meanwhile, China accused the US of bringing the virus to Wuhan through a contingent of 280 US army personnel who had participated in the World Military Games held there in October 2019. The Russians have backed the claim. In an interview to “Nature News” (from where the Russian “PressTV” picked it up) US human rights lawyer Francis Boyle claimed that the US developed the SARS virus as a bioweapon, citing a 2015 peer-reviewed paper from researchers at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Coronavirus : A New Theatre of Conflict With Iran
The US said that it will not send humanitarian aid to COVID-19-hit Iran because Iran would not release US prisoners. But Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayotollah Khamenei, accused the US of sending the laboratory manufactured coronavirus virus to Iran to destroy the Iranian people. US humanitarian aid might be a Trojan Horse to send the virus , he charged and said that Iran would not accept that kind of aid .
Conflict In Afghanistan Continues
Afghanistan is experiencing political uncertainty, and violence has been unceasing despite a commitment to reduce violence as a prelude to a “peace deal” between the US and the Taliban. But in the midst of this grave situation, the US said that it is cutting aid to Afghanistan by US$ 1 billion although the US is as much a part of the Afghan mess as the other parties.
Meanwhile, on the ethnic front in Afghanistan, the Daesh (which is opposed to the US as well as the Taliban) fired on a group of Sikh worshippers in KabuI, killing 26 of them. The Indian media, which is at war with Pakistan, immediately quoted un-named Indian officials saying that Pakistan was behind the attack. According to Indian circles, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence had done the horrendous deed to break the friendly relations New Delhi has with the Afghan government in Kabul.
The India-Pakistan feud over Kashmir is continuing in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic. When Indian Prime Narendra Modi called a SAARC video summit on combating the coronavirus, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan did not join. Instead, he made his health sector advisor participate. While other SAARC nations announced contributions to the SAARC’s COVID-19 fund mooted by Modi, Pakistan did not announce a contribution. Instead, Pakistan has been talking to SAARC heads of government other than India, about operationalizing the SAARC fund through the organization’s Secretary General, perhaps to keep it out of Indian domination. The SAARC Secretariat is in Nepal and the current Secretary General is a Sri Lankan.