Posted On: Tuesday - May 25th 2021 10:56AM MST
In Topics:   Trump  China  Books  Kung Flu Stupidity
This is a book review addendum, if you will, of the last chapter of the Josh Rogin book Chaos under Heaven that Peak Stupidity posted a long review on this past Saturday. The reasons for this post are that I'd not quite finished the book when I wrote that review, and that the final chapter, which is about the Kung Flu virus, its origins, and its effect on US-China relations, was one that I'd told Ron Unz in a comment I hadn't read yet.
That latter bit is interesting, as Mr. Unz wrote an uncivil reply comment to me* under his 2nd-to-latest (I haven't bothered with his latest) post on his American bioweapon theory of the Kung Flu's origins - "The Truth" and "The Whole Truth" About the Origins of Covid-19**. The reply was to my simple quick question as to whether Mr. Unz had read Mr. Rogin's Chaos under Heaven. Mr. Unz dismissed the book with the words "Isn’t he that WaPo lab-leak Neocon? I’ve never heard of his book, but why in the world would I want to read that sort of garbage?"***
Well, that brings up the material from our main review. Mr. Rogin is somewhat of a neocon, as we explained there, but his view of the Trump Admin. - China relations was pretty balanced. Mr. Rogin is especially no fan of Steve Bannon. What's really funny here is that the last chapter of Chaos under Heaven, just called "The Coronavirus" is very very much like the Nicholas Wade paper Peak Stupidity discussed and Mr. Unz touted in his post I refer to as supporting his American bioweapon theory.
Mr. Wade's paper DOES NOT support Mr. Unz's theory. Yes, it supports 1/2 of it, only the point that the virus is not likely, per Mr. Wade, to have come from natural mutation/replication animal progression origins. In this last chapter of his book, Mr. Rogin's writing is so close to that of Nicholas Wade's, if Mr. Wade didn't get it directly out of Mr. Rogin's book, then they both got it from the same sources. There are two examples of this: 1) The point about those bats with very similar deadly SARS viruses in caves in Yunnan**** not being obviously able to fly 1,000 miles with this virus and 2) The story of 6 miners in those caves getting wicked sick with same COVID-type symptoms, with 3 of them dying from it. It's nearly the same wording. Mr. Unz mistakenly, IMO, used Mr. Wade's article to bolster his case, but then this book ought to be the same in that respect.
I'll leave Mr. Unz's opinions behind now and continue with this chapter of the book. Just to stay in some sort of order, the biggest deal for Josh Rogin, way before the PanicFest of '20, was the "Wuhan Cables" ***** of early '18. This was about what was going on at the Wuhan labs. American health and science officials went to the Wuhan labs in late '17 and found out how lax the safety standards and personnel training was for a lab doing dangerous research. Higher level diplomats came in March '18 and sent two, what, strongly-worded cables? Though kept secret, the author himself was instrumental in digging them up from some sources and getting them to government officials. Back then, nothing much was made of it.
Once the news of the virus got out, in late '19 and early '20, there was an initial friendly call between Trump and Xi about it. As usual, Trump believed the guy and dismissed the worry very early on. Not much later, when the PanicFest started in earnest, he tried to do the right things (at least trying to cut travel from China early on).
I'll skip most of the rest of the Trump administration politics on the Kung Flu for an attempt at brevity. The big point I want to make is that Mr. Rogin is very dismissive of the bioweapon theory, on the CHINESE end and has nothing to say about that of an American bioweapon theory of origin. (With all he writes about Wuhan, Dr. Shi - the bat lady, if you recall, and the germs themselves, it would not even be thought of, from a reading of this book.)
The author brings up Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton's Chinese bioweapon charges of 2/16/20. Mr. Cotton is a neocon, though only of the "invade-the-world" variety, not the "invite-the-world". (He's very good on the immigration invasion issue, per VDare.) Mr. Rogin maintains that Senator Cotton screwed up the politics with these charges, as the arguments against it and vituperation from the Chinese made the Wuhan lab origin theory go more into the background. One thing this says is, contrary to Mr. Unz's not-having-read-the-book view, Mr. Rogin is not some complete Neocon warmonger on this.
There's some interesting stuff here, with a little deviation from the Wade article too. A number of other very similar viruses to the SARS-Cov-2 (the BIG ONE! ) are mentioned, one important one being what was called RaTG13. That one was found in the bats out in Yunnan and then in the Wuhan lab bat shit samples. It was then experimented on with special genetically-engineered mice, plenty of them sent readily from that UNC research center - Chapel Hill, NC, with ACE2 receptors in their lungs so they could get sick from this virus in the same way as humans.
What deviates from Nicholas Wade's article is that Josh Rogin discusses much subterfuge and covering-up by the Chinese lab people including Dr. Shi. She, OK, Shi, is not made out to be the diligent honest bat-shit lab scientist here.
There's a bit of confusion here for me on the point of these two similar viruses. The author is careful not to say explicitly that "gain-of-function"****** work was done. Then again, how did that first RaTG13 virus get to be the SARS-CoV-2 one? Was it the mice? Is that not the same as gain-of-function work? I don't know.
Another point of mine is this: What specifically makes the work done in that lab, and the same with similar work in America, NOT bioweapons research? Is it just the intention? Is it the lab name, called a "Virology Lab - level BSL-4", rather than "Department of Offense Bio-Lab"? Either way, the stuff can be deadly. All you do to turn gain-of-function results into a weapon is get a vial and get on a plane. (Bring plenty of wipes!)
Man, I just can't keep these things short, as I just read this and want to include all the interesting parts. Let me get back to the Trump/China politics during the Kung Flu PanicFest era just to summarize them per Josh Rogin. Trump and all of the administration finally got wise to all the bullshit out of China during the summer of '20. They realized that the huge damage to the American economy, from the Kung Flu - no, it was from the ensuing PanicFest, actually - was a bigger deal than their measly round 1 trade deal and other politics. It was pretty late to play hardball. Additionally, the Chinese were using the Kung Flu PanicFest to exert influence all over the world, threatening the loss of, well, shit like defective face masks for one...
Mr. Rogin, being from CNN and the Washington Post after all, was not happy with the last Trump moves. Along with other moves, they involved the administration's looking into the cultural-sabotage outfit Confucius Centers, sending home "researchers" in science/engineering who were associated with the Chinese military, and closing of the Houston, Texas Chinese consulate that was full of spies. Talk aboutcher no-brainers!
With the exception of the epilogue, the author must have finished writing sometime in the Fall of '20, as the election hadn't happened yet. I've got 2 or 3 problems with his take on the American politics of election '20, which I'll likely post about.
Where Josh Rogin himself stands on the panicker/non-panicker spectrum is obvious from just one paragraph on page 283. As the author traveled with National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien to Scottsdale, Arizona to a conference about the CCP's global ambition and influence. He ends that section ("The Gloves Come Off") on that sequence of political events with the ominous one-sentence paragraph:
Two weeks later, O'Brien was diagnosed with COVID-19.OMG! I think we're supposed to shake in our cheap China-made boots here.
Josh Rogin sure seems to have a lot of inside knowledge of this last chapter of the Trump Administration's China politics. This is very interesting stuff that Kung Flu origin worriers really ought to read. I'll take exception to those 3 items of stupidity to expected out of a Lyin' Press writer later. What it still comes down to is that I trust even this Washington Post reporter more than I do the Chinese Communist Party.*******
* Later on in the thread, though, Mr. Unz was much more civil in another couple of replies and even thanked me for linking to a John Derbyshire column. The Derbyshire column was on his OWN SITE, BTW! Ha, I guess he really is a busy guy with all that writing, skimming/chiming-in, and software work. I was really surprised that Mr. Unz was so glad Mr. Derbyshire had pointed out his writing, even when stating that he (Mr. D) didn't think Mr. Unz's theory that likely compared to the Wuhan lab screw-up theory. Though Mr. Unz is a big shot in some ways, I guess Mr. Derbyshire is much more known as a writer.
** It has 943 comments as of now, but they won't be displayed with the post without the reader clicking at the bottom - a smart thing, IMO, as if you don't want to read comments, unlike me, you can load a much smaller amount of text.
*** Then, the insult had to come out - the guy is just high strung - claiming I have written nothing intelligent about China (that he's skimmed, anyway) from 11 times being there, while he has written papers and read lots of books. OK, Ron. I told the guy to visit sometime in '19, dammit. I really did want to know what he'd think if he went there.
**** It's out there way southwest of Wuhan, directly north of Vietnam.
***** WTF is a diplomatic "cable" now anyways? Did the message go under the sea?
****** What crappy terminology there! That's a subject for another quick post.
******* It could be that the book audience is slightly different from the Lyin' Press/TV Infotainment crowd, so the same lies won't fly in this format.