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On Investing in The Pandemic

On Investing in The Pandemic

Friday, 3 April, 2020 - 12:30

Unfortunately, the global scene burdened by the inability to control the coronavirus and the painful images of its victims is accompanied by political tensions, economic race, and feeding selfish interests and racial tensions, in a hideous competition between world leaders to invest in the event and gain from its consequences to boost control and influence instead of making efforts to find common humanitarian solutions to overcoming the problem.

What can be understood by the behavior of Beijing that had concealed the spread of the virus and facts about its developments and the number of victims, to maintain its economic interests and political reputation? It undermined its doctors' warnings about the dangers of the virus and the high rates of transmission among travelers around the world. How do we explain its attempt to escape the consequences of its act and its responsibility by making claims that the virus was an imperialist, specifically American creation, to gain grounds where the Chinese have become economically influential? Then rushing after restricting the spread of the virus, without hesitation, to work on polishing its image by offering aid to the most damaged European countries, in hopes that they would reopen their doors to Chinese exports? It also did not hesitate to spread propaganda and to undermine the vitality of democratic regimes and their effectiveness in protecting their peoples, promoting its own centralized and repressive model and its capacity to control the lives of individuals to the extent that it could limit the spread of the disease? Can we not say the same about Russia and how it put all of its efforts to undermine the capacity of Europe to remain united after the virus spread, mocking the European Union for not being able to secure ventilators, personal protective equipment and quarantine for its partners and member states, as Russia and China did for Italy, Spain and Serbia? As if it were trying to polish the image of closed, populist and authoritarian regimes?

With the rising numbers of victims in the United States, the US president was not late to invest in the pandemic by holding China responsible for the creation and spread of the virus to undermine its reputation and recruit the world against it, in the context of his battle to limit its economic and political influence and ambitions. He took advantage of the atmosphere that the pandemic created to incite racial hatred and enhance his popular recruitment against immigrants in his country in light of the coming elections to gain grounds against his Democratic rival. What makes things worse is his lag in instituting a plan of total lockdowns and isolations of cities so that the economy remains active, claiming that the losses that would be incurred by shutting down the economy would be larger than those caused by the coronavirus. The truth is not changed but is instead confirmed by his attempts to spread false reassurances by claiming that a vaccine is close to being produced or the efficacy of the treatment for Malaria to treat patients with coronavirus. History will not forgive his attempts to purchase and monopolize the vaccine from a German lab that was rumored to have produced it. On the other hand, there are suspicions around western governments delaying their rescue of areas where the virus had spread and which were considered strongholds of the opposition, to increase their influence. There are also suspicions about the complicity between governments to get rid of the elderly who have become a heavy burden on society and obstacles against economic development. This is evidenced by the British Prime Minister’s notorious herd immunity plan that would provide the young with immunity even if that meant natural selection against the elderly and for the strong, leading to many people losing their lives.

Tehran’s leaders have another story, early on they tried to invest in the pandemic when it lagged in cities, to try to appear as a strong and protected regime. However, as usual, resorted to a conspiracy theory and accused the US of spreading the virus after their siege had failed. They did not hesitate in investing this disease even after it became widely spread, asking for aid that would alleviate their economic crisis, while the Turkish President Erdogan did not care for the fate of Turkish victims of the virus, claiming that he would not compromise the economy, refusing to shut down cities and isolating them, looking forward to making economic gains that would allow him to restore his lost popularity.

Let us take a look at the behavior of the governments in Lebanon and Iraq and how they made use of the spread to restrict crowds, justifying their repression of the popular uprisings against corruption and dependency. All this while Syria continues with its demagogic policies, whether to cover up what it has and still is doing against the Syrian people and to pass its war against Idlib with the least reactions possible, claiming competency and even leadership in confronting the pandemic. One is confused as to whether they should cry or laugh when they hear the Minister of Social Affairs’ claim that the entire world is learning from the successful Syrian experience in confronting the coronavirus. What is worse is their desire that the spread of the pandemic in the areas that are still under the opposition’s control would end its existence, or that it spreads to refugee camps and lead to catastrophic outcomes.

There are Islamist scholars and “Islamized” demagogues who have employed the pandemic to spread and revive religious myths that conflict with the very essence of religion and reason and contradict what science is telling us about the virus and how to face it. In one instance, they claim that this pandemic would not reach Muslims and that they are a punishment by God against heathens, and in another instance, inciting against the authority’s decision to ban prayers in mosques because these are holy places that viruses and bacteria cannot survive in! Further, there is an insistence on visiting shrines, despite what happened in the Iranian city of Qum. The mercenaries that claim knowledge make things worse by using their social media to spread misinformation about how they could defeat the pandemic.

Finally, there remains the question: Will Corona succeed in bringing out the worst in our customs and social ethics, or will it be a critical point that bring people back to their humanness and values? Subsequently: Will the selfish elite continue to drag their societies to instinctual racism and the logic of power and violence and all of the victims, discrimination, ecological destruction ad economic collapses that entails? Or will these objective advances that humanity has made, and the strength of their shared interests and the insistence on the need for cooperation against shared challenges and dilemmas, push them to reflect and to launch a new horizon that would elevate people with the priority of protecting lives, freedoms and rights?

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