'Great Power Competition' As Human Sacrifice

The Pentagon ran a disinformation campaign to make Filipinos distrust vaccinations rather than see them take China's free COVID vaccine. That's what 'Great Power Competition' truly is

'Great Power Competition' As Human Sacrifice
"Columbia's New Bonnet" by Samuel D. Ehrhart from Puck.

Edited by Sam Thielman

REUTERS' CHRIS BING AND JOEL SCHECTMAN—an intimidating investigative-journalism team—have ripped the veneer off of “Great Power Competition," the strategic framework behind a coalescing Cold War between the U.S. and China begun by Donald Trump and embraced by Joe Biden. 

Bing and Schectman revealed on Friday that, starting in 2020, the U.S. military created hundreds of fake accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms to discredit Sinovac, the Chinese COVID vaccine that by October 2021 had been exported more widely than any other country's, including ours. While we likely can't ever parse out precisely how much the Pentagon anti-vaccine effort contributed to the COVID death toll in the Philippines, it's clear that the Pentagon exploited existing anti-vaccination fears and lots of people died needlessly. 

And not only there. Propaganda created by the Pentagon for dissemination among the global Muslim population said baselessly that the Chinese vaccines contained pork gelatin. 

Reuters reports that by summer 2021, shortly after the Biden administration stopped the disinformation flow, 2.1 million out of 114 million Filipinos were vaccinated, "far short of the government’s target of 70 million." There were contemporaneously 1.3 million COVID cases and nearly 24,000 deaths, and that was three years ago. "The difficulty in vaccinating the population contributed to the worst death rate in the region," Bing and Schectman reported. 

A disinformation campaign that helped kill tens of thousands of foreign citizens rather than see a geopolitical rival's efforts save them is what you should think about when politicians and journalists talk about the rapidly-coalescing "Great Power Competition" with China for dominance of the 21st century. Human sacrifice at scale is the reality of imperial struggle, not some romanticized "great game." It is not something to be managed or stewarded. It is something to be challenged and stopped.