What Do Ukraine and Wuhan Have in Common?

Campaigning politicians have always inflated their own importance and the benefits of the policies they espouse — and exaggerated the perils of electing the other guy. It used to be the case that these self-aggrandizing stump speeches were tempered by a (mostly) diligent press that went out of its way to poke holes in those exaggerations and deflate egos with some sharply pointed facts. And Americans have historically trusted their elected leaders to tell the truth in matters of grave national importance.

No more. We are swimming in a cesspool of lies so fetid that it’s almost impossible to know what’s true anymore. This is a consequence of two political parties whose most visible and powerful members lie with impunity, and a national press that abandoned the pursuit of truth years ago in favor of pushing left-wing political propaganda.

Let’s take the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Is this nothing more than naked aggression by a larger country (Russia) run by an ex-KGB agent (President Vladimir Putin) who’s made no bones about wanting some (if not all) of the old Soviet territories back?

That’s the position being pushed by the Biden administration.

Putin, on the other hand, claims not only that parts (if not all) of Ukraine belong to Russia; he has intimated that the United States has been funding the development of possible biowarfare agents at laboratories in Ukraine, and that these pathogens could be used as weapons against Russia.

Until recently, most of us would have tended to believe the statements of our own government over the inflammatory accusations of a former Soviet strongman. But two-plus years of the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that our own government lies to us continuously and repeatedly.

In fact, the similarities between the “Ukraine biolabs” story and the theory that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology are remarkable.

When COVID-19 began spreading throughout China and the rest of the world, the “official” story was that the virus had jumped species (from bat to human, perhaps with an intermediary host) in a wet market in Wuhan. Very quickly, some writers pointed out that the city of Wuhan had an international virology institute. And that bat viruses were being studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. And that scientists who worked at WIV had published papers in which they described genetically manipulating those viruses to see if they could be made to “jump species” (so-called gain of function research).

Immediately, these statements and the questions they raised were dismissed as “misinformation” or Chinese government propaganda. Broadcast and print media journalists refused to investigate the claims. Those who continued to ask questions were denounced as kooks or “conspiracy theorists.” Social media megacorporations Twitter, Facebook and YouTube removed content and shut down the accounts of anyone who tried to publish information about the “lab leak” theory. America’s COVID czar Dr. Anthony Fauci was consistently among the most vocal detractors of that theory.

But information continued to seep out. State Department memoranda from 2018 were discovered, warning that research into zoonotic bat viruses being conducted at the WIV lacked adequate safety protocols. Those memoranda mentioned funding by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the organization run by Fauci. Fauci was called before Congress and insisted that the NIAID had never funded “gain of function” research. An October 2021 letter from the NIH proved that this was untrue; the NIAID and the NIH had funded gain of function research in Wuhan. Other documents — including Fauci’s own emails — obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests revealed that Fauci and other scientists were seriously evaluating the possibility that COVID-19 leaked from a Wuhan laboratory, even as they lied to the public and denied it.

What does any of this have to do with Ukraine?

A Washington Post article from 2005 opens with this statement: “The United States and Ukraine agreed yesterday to work jointly to prevent the spread of biological weapons, signing a pact that clears the way for Ukraine’s government to receive U.S. aid to improve security at facilities where dangerous microbes are kept.” The two U.S. senators spearheading that initiative were Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, and Barack Obama, then a Democratic senator from Illinois.

So, “dangerous microbes” are at these Ukrainian laboratories, and the United States government has been providing funding. For what, exactly? To “improve security.”

This hardly inspires confidence.

Right on cue, here come the “official” statements. An article published last week in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists quotes Robert Pope, director of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, a “30-year-old Defense Department program that has helped secure the former Soviet Union’s weapons of mass destruction and redirect former bioweapons facilities and scientists toward peaceful endeavors.”

According to Pope, “the labs in Ukraine are not bioweapons facilities … (T)hey are public and animal health labs” that “conduct peaceful scientific research and disease surveillance.” Pope further insisted that all pathogens present at the Ukrainian laboratories were safe as long as they were kept frozen, but power outages caused by damage to the buildings (from warfare, for example) could pose a problem. Furthermore, the safety protocols of the Ukraine labs are not without concern. “They have more pathogens in more places than we recommend,” Pope said, in what sounds like a serious understatement.

Predictably, any suspicions about the work conducted in Ukrainian laboratories and funded by the U.S. government are now being dismissed as “disinformation.” Foreign Policy published an article yesterday insisting that the “Ukrainian lab bioweapons” claims are just “conspiracy theories” being advanced by (of course) the Russian and Chinese governments and (wait for it) QAnon supporters who are spreading misinformation on social media as part of the “dogma for the right wing of the Republican Party.”

Sound familiar?

So, what’s really going on in the Ukrainian laboratories? Who do you believe?

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Laura Hollis

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is a native of Champaign, Illinois. She received her undergraduate degree in English and her law degree from the University of Notre Dame. Hollis' career as an attorney has spanned 28 years, the past 23 of which have been in higher education. She has taught law at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and has nearly 15 years' experience in the development and delivery of entrepreneurship courses, seminars and workshops for multiple audiences. Her scholarly interests include entrepreneurship and public policy, economic development, technology commercialization and general business law. In addition to her legal publications, Hollis has been a freelance political writer since 1993, writing for The Detroit News, HOUR Detroit magazine, and the Christian Post, on matters of politics and culture. She is a frequent public speaker. Hollis has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education. She is married to Jess Hollis, a musician, voiceover artist and audio engineer, and they live in Indiana with their two children, Alistair and Celeste.

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