by Geoff Shullenberger
Tuesday, 14
September 2021
Debate
07:15

Joe Biden declares ‘War on Covid’

Like Bush's War on Terror, this conflict is open-ended and a potential disaster
by Geoff Shullenberger
One mask is not enough for Joe Biden. Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden made two bold moves in the past month. The first was bringing an end to America’s prolonged military presence in Afghanistan. The second was a set of aggressive new steps to contain COVID-19 — notably, a vastly expanded vaccine mandate. Both have stirred considerable controversy, especially from the Republican opposition. But while the Afghanistan withdrawal was consistent with Biden’s long-held positions, the broad new mandates contradicted his and his administration’s prior statements on the subject. 

Critics are decrying Biden’s Covid measures as an unprecedented assault on civil liberties. As we pass the 20-year anniversary of 9/11, the event that triggered the Afghan war, such criticisms should have historical resonances for anyone who lived through the attacks and their aftermath. In late 2001, the public’s new awareness of the dangers of global terrorism prepared the way for dramatic changes to the government’s role in Americans’ lives, such as the enhancement of security measures in airports and government buildings and the expansion of communication surveillance. Similarly, the persistence of the pandemic is now leading to infringements on rights that even those now imposing them saw as politically impracticable less than a year ago.       

In the months following 9/11, the few who raised concerns about the rollback of civil liberties belonged mainly to the political left. Today, opposition to vaccine and mask mandates is concentrated on the right. The American Civil Liberties Union, which was critical of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism agenda, once also opposed vaccine requirements. It has now reversed its position on the latter measures — in lockstep with its liberal allies and donor base.     

US politics has become intensely focused on combating one particular source of danger, with other values and concerns relegated to secondary status. Moreover, as with the Wars on Drugs and Terror, official rhetoric now implies that nothing short of total eradication is acceptable. Even when they do not explicitly advocate Zero Covid, today’s pandemic crusaders rarely offer a sense of what a tolerable level of risk from the virus would be. Victory is once again a moving target.     

Plenty of evidence points to the public health benefits of increased vaccine uptake. Whether the Biden administration’s aggressive approach will achieve this end remains uncertain, in part due to the political backlash it has already generated in the wary parts of the population. Blaming the continuation of the crisis on the unvaccinated, as Biden has, may well exacerbate this backlash.

In any case, even with far higher vaccination rates, the virus will remain endemic, albeit less life-threatening. Rather than making clear what ultimately defines success in the War on Covid, Biden has now invoked a friend-enemy rhetoric reminiscent of George Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’, but with the enemy now consisting of domestic partisan enemies in Red State strongholds. In this sense, even as he has finally brought America’s ‘Forever War’ to a close, Biden has escalated a new war that is comparably vague in its aims and endgame. 

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Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
9 months ago

With billions of vaccinations, hundreds of millions of positive cases and millions of deaths there should be an enormous amount of data available to produce convincing evidence for a particular course of action. Yet the academic community has failed to work together to get and analyse the data that is needed. We should know by now exactly who is at risk of long covid or death and be able to protect them without imposing restrictions on everyone else. We should know which factors reduce transmissibility to enable vulnerable people to protect themselves. We should know the risk factors that allow new variants to evolve. The academic community has not risen to this challenge and where it has it has failed to explain itself.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

The bulk of the academic community has been busy shutting down scientific debate that doesn’t suit the agenda. The agenda is looking more and more like ‘anything that doesn’t make money or ensure compliance must be discredited’
Talking of variant risk factors : why was there no discussion about Dr Geert vanden Bossche’s assertion in about March? He posited that mass vaccination with a non sterilising vaccine in a pandemic would drive ever more infectious variants developing. He has a PhD in virology, but practiced veterinary science. He was discredited as a vet quack, but of course it could be argued that epidemics in animals are more frequent than in humans. Where is the discussion now? Just more jokes about neighing and oinking and horse paste by incurious, intellectually bankrupt citizens who listen to the ‘narrative’ and take up the charge.

Last edited 9 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
Christian Filli
Christian Filli
9 months ago

Such a crucial point, Lesley. From an evolutionary perspective, this is what’s described as “selective pressure”. Bret and Heather Weinstein have explained this in detail – and surprise surprise, they have also been hushed by tech censors. But hey, if we can’t even have a conversation about natural immunity, there’s little hope that our Covid overlords will ever admit that a “one-size-fits-all” mass vaccination crusade could actually be counterproductive.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago

Exactly.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
9 months ago

The politicians of recent times are not leaders in any real sense. All this Covid drama is just another lucky tool for politicians to rule to their own agenda ( thinly veiled as for the greater good) . Joe Biden with his double masked face has no clue who the real enemy is. It is himself. He is lacking any honesty .

If only catching Covid (situation) and pinning it down was so simple! Is he even serious? Swimming against nature’s flow? The worlds data is pointing in one direction and he is stuck in his own narratives. But then, if the American public expected better from him, they are the fools. You get what you deserve (& who you voted for).

We have our own problems here but hopefully we are moving in the right direction but by bit.

Last edited 9 months ago by Alka Hughes-Hallett
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago

You can know for a fact that Biden’s Fa* cist Left policy on covid has NOTHING to do with health by one simple thing:

NO ALLOWANCE IS MADE FOR NATURAL IMMUNITY BY HAVING RECOVERED FROM COVID. THE VAX IS STILL REQUIRED.

It is vaccines no matter if you have natural immunity, which is stronger, longer lasting, and Munch broader spectrum. Therefore the requiring of vaccines for all Gov employees and contractors, and firms over 100 people, and on and on – is NOT to stop covid, but for some ulterior Pharma/Medical Industrial Complex reasons – And, almost certainly, to increase the taking back of traditional Constitutional rights and freedoms from the American people.

The same Incestuous elite group of people occupy the FDA, CDC, Dept of Health, and the Boards of Pharma. Exactly as Janet Yellen “She is the first person in American history to have led the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department.”

“Scott Gottlieb, who served as the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2017 to 2019, now sits on the board of directors of the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The Pfizer-BioNTech Coronavirus vaccine has been granted authorization by the FDA despite widespread reported health problems and deaths among vaccine”

The gov/Industrial Elites do not even bother to hide anymore. They figure us citizens are ‘Captured’ so are not worth worrying about anymore.

Christian Filli
Christian Filli
9 months ago

Excellent analogy, Geoff. In what world does it make sense to claim that we must “protect the vaccinated against the unvaccinated”? We have officially entered the stage in which political posturing is far more important than public health.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago

Joe Biden and the people who manage him are becoming increasingly scary. The following is an extract from ‘Anthem’ by the master, Leonard Cohen. It is high time people fought back.
We asked for signs
The signs were sent
The birth betrayed
The marriage spent
Yeah, and the widowhood
Of every government
Signs for all to see

I can’t run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
A thundercloud
They’re going to hear from me

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
9 months ago

Watching the debacle of the Afghanistan decision that will cripple the US, we see Biden try to change the subject by deciding what’s best for all. Neither he nor his band of political advisors know what’s best for the nation. While the hazards of Covid exist, it’s not a universal threat requiring a single solution. Respect the citizen’s freedom and judgement. We are not children.

James Joyce
James Joyce
9 months ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Since you reference Afghanistan, it is perhaps worth noting that the US is in–essentially–the same position that the USSR was in 1989 after their defeat in Afghanistan. How did that end?
Re Corona–what is surprising is that none of the commentators mentioned the phrase “the inconceivable has become the inevitable.” Sadly, this is not mine–heard Freddie Sayers use this in an interview–but the idea was that academics and filthy govt. officials looked longingly @ China and other authoritarian states (I think Vietnam), who essentially sent the army in to really lock down the population. These filthy people said “Damn, I like that. Wish we could do that here. But we can’t.” Then someone said “Well, maybe we can, if we gin up enough fear….” Cue the lockdowns.