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Transcript The Coronavirus and: Weaponizing Pandemics in the Middle East: Is the Pandemic Accomplishing What Targeted Assassinations Couldn’t? with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Part One

March 25, 2020
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Russian trucks delivering humanitarian aid to Iran

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Even with regards to the  Foreign Affairs article, the article is based on the assumption that China was the source of the pandemic – thus the early critique of China. As I recall, the Wall Street Journal called the Chinese “the sick man of Asia” but as time goes on it appears that it is the United States that is “the sick man” because they are the least prepared country when it comes to fighting this pandemic.

Yesterday the Chinese were able to celebrate the third or forth day without reporting any cases at all. Yet in the United States we are just at the tip of the ice berg. As time goes on we are having more and more exposed cases and more and more people dying all the time.

China, Russia and Cuba are certainly benefiting from the medical solidarity they are offering different countries while the Americans are virtually not doing anything – not offering aid to other countries. The United States is not in a position to do anything about it.

Ibrahim Kazerooni

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Ibrahim, something else has come to mind.

Here, in the United States we have the militarized country in the world, a minimum of 800 military bases abroad, a trillion dollar annual military budget and yet this powerful country with its bulging military apparatus is essentially helpless to address the Coronavirus pandemic – it’s irrelevant – and what also comes to mind is that the U.S. with its military is not going to be able to deal with the global economic recession and depression which looks to follow at all.

So we begin how ludicrous – how useless – the main thrust of U.S. foreign policy is.

Rob Prince

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KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – March 24, 2020 – Soundcloud audio recording

Jim Nelson: Good evening Rob from your home. This evening we’re going to be talking about the Coronavirus or COVID-19 and how it might be weaponized in the Middle East, specifically towards Iran. You had a Foreign Affairs article attached to a blog commentary. It referred to the current tensions between China and the USA as it concerns the virus. Is this a good place to start our program?

Rob Prince: Funny that you mention it Jim because it’s a part of my introduction.

Dear friends and listeners – I hope you’re all weathering the storm in what more and more is seeming like a global free fall.

As you all know, this pandemic is global – there is virtually no place in the world that is untouched. A global free fall

In terms of what we’re going to be talking about tonight, this is the first of two programs in which we’re going to look at the pandemic in the Middle East, tonight and then next week on March 31 there will be a follow up program.

We’re not going to go over the details of the situation as it exists here in the USA; most of you are well aware of them as we all together try to come to grips with the seriousness of the crisis and what to do about it

Nor go into the details of – I don’t know how else to put it – the hypocrisy and utter recklessness that has characterized the Trump Administration response to the Coronavirus.

Needless to say there are growing questions both about origins and also the dangers involved, the numbers of those infected due to testing limitations

For openers I want to make some comments of a general nature to set the scene.

1. With this pandemic, the Coronavirus, it up there with climate change and the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons, that fighting and defeating the Coronavirus is going to take a worldwide effort, global cooperation and that in much of the world – minus the USA – that is already happening and growing – which is an encouraging sign.

In terms of the article in Foreign Affairs to which Jim just referred: It’s entitled “The Coronavirus could reshape the global order” by Kurt M. Campbell and Rush Doshi.

What it argues that in the interest of countering the Coronavirus pandemic the Trump Administration and China should stop their feuding – make peace – and work together to defeat this pandemic. The article does make some criticisms of Chinese actions, particularly early on in the pandemic, the main thrust of the article is a critic of the Trump Administration’s bizarre and mean-spirited behavior. It’s worth reading.

Needless to say we are far from such cooperation.

Interestingly enough, some of the nations that the Trump Administration is most vilifying – China, Cuba, Russia – are making sizeable contributions to the global common good

– China, which from all appearances seems to have licked the monster, has sent specialists and medical to Italy which is really suffering at the moment also to other places.

We have to be careful in saying that China has “licked it.” We don’t really know this pandemic. It could come back there.

– the Cubans, it turns out, despite a US embargo that began in 1958 and has never been lifted, claim to have developed 23 drugs that can treat Coronavirus and are currently working on a vaccine against it. At least one of those drugs was used effectively in China.

The UK and Italy – among others – have openly welcomed Cuban and Chinese aid.

Meanwhile the U.S. has followed a more mean spirited path both internationally and in particular in the Middle East – We’ll come back to the essence of its policies throughout the program.

What is needed is a new level of global cooperation but the Trump Administration is gong in the opposite direction.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that in many ways the Trump Administration is using the pandemic to try to maximize its position in the world at China’s expense, and where it concerns the Middle East – the subject of tonight’s discussion – the essence of the approach is simply this – to use the chaos of the pandemic to shift the balance of forces back to where it was five years ago.

The Trump Administration has not given up in any way “targeting Iran” and working for regime change there.

The United States is participating in a new kind of warfare – which we will get into in detail as we go along. Its called hybrid warfare; it’s also referred to as fifth generation warfare. We’ve talked about in recent programs but will, over the course of tonight’s broadcast and the one next week delve into it in much more detail

So Ibrahim, tell us, is there anything you want to add to this introduction concerning more general comments on the pandemic?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Yes, you briefly dealt with a few general issues.

In response I would first like to underline that this pandemic has really shifted the world view and has created a degree of panic and mistrust between nations.

Even with regards to the  Foreign Affairs article, the article is based on the assumption that China was the source of the pandemic – thus the early critique of China. As I recall, the Wall Street Journal called the Chinese “the sick man of Asia” but as time goes on it appears that it is the United States that is “the sick man” because they are the least prepared country when it comes to fighting this pandemic.

Yesterday the Chinese were able to celebrate the third or forth day without reporting any cases at all. Yet in the United States we are just at the tip of the ice berg. As time goes on we are having more and more exposed cases and more and more people dying all the time.

China, Russia and Cuba are certainly benefiting from the medical solidarity they are offering different countries while the Americans are virtually not doing anything – not offering aid to other countries. The United States is not in a position to do anything about it.

An article appeared in the Arabic press – al Mayadeen – that the Coronavirus finally has made it into the American media. It clear states – that in regard to the point you raised Rob – Washington has politicized the pandemic and continues to use it to achieve regime change in Iran. We heard (NY Times) from a number of high military officials and others that the Coronavirus was decimating the upper echelons of the Iranian regime in a way that the United States could not do that militarily.

The New York Times published a piece that argues that while the current crisis will pass sooner or later that the impact of the Coronavirus will be to increase the enmity and hostility with Iran that will nix any possibility of rapprochement between the United States and Iran, particularly in the light of the current crisis and the number of people in Iran that are losing their lives.

Rob and I were talking about this.

I have lost a number of friends in Qom and Tehran due to this virus because most of the hospitals were ill-prepared for it. The embargo – whether it was of the banking sector directly or indirectly through the sanctioning of medical supplies has adversely effected the Iranians. This is why the death rate is so high. It is not as high as Italy and relatively speaking even Spain but still it is very high.

Now Iran is beginning to receive shipments from China, Russia as well as Cuba.

Interesting, yesterday as I was reading about these aid shipments, not only due to the embargo but look what is happening throughout the (so-called) civilized world.

∙ Shipments of medical equipment from Moscow, meant to go to Spain, have been stopped in the Czech Republic and confiscated because the Czech government has concluded that it needs these supplies more than Spain does!
∙ Likewise, other shipments from Russia designated for Italy have been also been confiscated by the Czech Republic, arguing that it needs the supplies more than Italy.
∙ Truckloads of medical supplies that the Chinese had committed to Iran that were supposed to be transported through Turkey were also confiscated

It’s a strange world that we live in that all standards of civility have fallen apart and it has become a free-for-all, selfish thinking, “all for us – at the expense of the others.”

∙ Another development reported in the New York Times, there is U.S. pressure on Germany and Eastern Europe to force manufacturing companies there to sell all their Coronavirus-related products exclusively to the United States because Washington is not adequately equipped to handle the crisis.
∙ Many of you remember the incident that took place a week ago, around March 17 with Germany where the Trump Administration tried to pressure a German company CureVac to give all of its experimental Coronavirus vaccines should be made exclusively for the United States market.

Rob Prince: Ibrahim, and the Trump Administration was also trying to lure the company’s scientists to come to the USA by offering them exceedingly high salaries.

Ibrahim, something else has come to mind.

Here, in the United States we have the militarized country in the world, a minimum of 800 military bases abroad, a trillion dollar annual military budget and yet this powerful country with its bulging military apparatus is essentially helpless to address the Coronavirus pandemic – it’s irrelevant – and what also comes to mind is that the U.S. with its military is not going to be able to deal with the global economic recession and depression which looks to follow at all.

So we begin how ludicrous – how useless – the main thrust of U.S. foreign policy is.

End Part One. Part Two

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