A Thousand Times Greater Than the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, by Ron Unz
Chernobyl Reactor, April 26, 1986. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes a single precipitating event may play a crucial role in the collapse of a decaying empire.
Such was the case with the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The sudden accidental meltdown and explosion of one of the USSR’s most advanced nuclear reactors produced a large-scale release of radiation across Europe. The catastrophe was regarded as devastating proof of the terrible decrepitude of the Soviet system, and became one of the biggest stories of the closing decades of the twentieth century.
Indeed, writing on Chernobyl’s twentieth anniversary in 2006, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev even suggested that the disaster “was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
Probably Soviet Communism would have eventually fallen regardless, but Chernobyl may have greatly accelerated the process, and the next few years saw the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the exodus of the Warsaw Pact countries of Eastern Europe, and soon afterwards, the disintegration of the Soviet Union itself.
Yet although Chernobyl may have ranked as the worst nuclear disaster in history and its political consequences were immense, the comprehensive 33,000 word Wikipedia account reveals that the actual statistics were far from overwhelming. Two engineers died in the initial explosion and two more were badly burned. Another 134 members of the staff were hospitalized with acute radiation syndrome, and 28 of these died in the months that followed, along with an additional 14 suspected deaths over a decade.
Later studies suggested that the increased radiation across the Soviet Union and its successor states eventually resulted in 4,000 other deaths, while there were as many as 16,000 extra fatalities across all of Europe during the decades that followed. But given that regular annual deaths across that large geographical region were around 8 million per year, an annual increase of a thousand or so represented an invisibly small change.
Moreover, except for the few million individuals living in the vicinity of the disaster, the only impact upon the lives of ordinary people was the fear of radiation generated by the media. Indeed, if the Chernobyl disaster and the resulting radiation had not been widely reported in the press, few people around the world would have ever become aware of it.
In sharp contrast, consider the global impact of the Covid epidemic that began in Wuhan, China during late 2019. According to the best estimates of the World Health Organization, some fifteen million people have already died as a consequence, either from the disease or its indirect effects, while the Economist has estimated that “excess deaths” may be closer to twenty million. Moreover, the daily lives of many billions around the world have been enormously disrupted, both from the disease itself and from the unprecedented public health measures implemented to control it. Huge economic transformations and shifts in world trade have also occurred.
Chernobyl ranked as one of the most important events of the late twentieth century, but these comparative statistics suggest that the global Covid epidemic has been up to a thousand-fold greater in its destructive social impact.
Perhaps our gigantic current disaster was just a natural calamity brought about by the random mutation or recombination of an existing animal virus. If many millions died from a series of massive earthquakes or volcano eruptions, the political consequences might be minor. But there is considerable evidence that in this case, a human hand was responsible.
In late 2021 the Wall Street Journal devoted a full page to the discussion and review of several recent books analyzing the origins of the Covid epidemic, with all of these strongly arguing that the virus came from a laboratory. I soon responded with an article of my own, discussing both the books and that accompanying review.
All these authors had fingered the Wuhan Institute of Virology as the probable source of the virus, which they claimed had accidentally leaked into the surrounding city and then afterwards spread across the world, a scenario that carried momentous political implications. As I wrote:
One of the books discussed is by Jasper Becker, a British journalist who had spent 18 years as a Beijing correspondent, and the closing paragraph of the review quotes him as suggesting that a Chinese admission of responsibility could even lead to the downfall of the ruling regime:
The national shame might spell the end of the Chinese Communist Party’s seventy-year rule. It would start a political earthquake which would begin in China but spread around the world.
However, as I explained, both the reviewer and the author upon whom he relied were seriously misinformed about important elements of twentieth century history:
The reviewer notes that Becker draws upon history to suggest that China’s current denials cannot be trusted, emphasizing that during the Korean War the Chinese Communists had launched a major propaganda offensive, falsely claiming that the American military had used illegal “germ warfare” to attack China’s own forces:
This is one reason why Western intelligence agencies are likely to doubt or at least question official accounts about the origin of the virus and the role of the Wuhan Institute of Virology…While the Chinese and Soviet governments pushed a completely false story of its enemies waging war with bioweapons against civilians, they actively pursued their own germ warfare programmes in secrecy.
Becker and the reviewer both reasonably argue that if a government has been caught lying in the past about biological warfare, its current claims about the Covid outbreak cannot be trusted.
I am sure that the vast majority of readers simply nodded their heads at all of these statements and earlier this year I would have done the same. But several months ago I had carefully investigated the history of American biological warfare and discovered that the story I had casually absorbed from our media was the exact opposite of the historical truth. Based upon declassified government documents and other fully mainstream sources, there was actually overwhelming evidence that the Chinese had been telling the truth during the Korean War while our own denials had been false. America had indeed used illegal biological warfare during that conflict.
I have no doubt that Becker was being entirely sincere, and his statements on that specialized historical question were simply due to his acceptance of the conventional media narrative rather than any deliberate deception. But suppose we now apply his own standard. Once we recognize that China had been truthful in the past, while America had both employed illegal bioweapons and then lied about their use, these disturbing facts must inform our own analysis of the Covid outbreak.
Perhaps Covid was a natural virus and perhaps it accidentally leaked out of a Wuhan lab. But there is also a third logical possibility, that it was deliberately released in one of China’s largest cities as a planned biowarfare attack. The Covid outbreak occurred at the height of China’s ongoing international conflict with America, so elements of our own hostile government would be the obvious suspects. None of the three books seemed to recognize the existence of this hypothetical possibility even merely to dismiss it, an enormous blind spot that may or may not be due to the constraints of the American publishing industry.
At the time these books and the review appeared, the possibility that the Covid virus had an American origin had remained totally unmentionable in the Western media, but in the last few weeks this situation has suddenly changed.
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University ranks as a pillar of the mainstream establishment and served as chairman of the influential Covid commission established by the Lancet, a leading medical journal. In May, he broke his silence and co-authored an article in the prestigious Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences making the case that the virus was clearly artificial and calling for an independent investigation into its possible American origin.
Sachs’s huge political bombshell was almost universally ignored by our timorous Western media. However, in June he made similar public remarks at a Spanish conference, and a clip of these went super-viral on Twitter at the beginning of July, now retweeted 11,000 times and accumulating nearly a million views.
Wow😯Prof. Jeffrey Sachs:
“I chaired the commission for the Lancet for 2 years on Covid. I’m pretty convinced it came out of a US lab of biotechnology […] We don’t know for sure but there is enough evidence. [However] it’s not being investigated, not in the US, not anywhere.” pic.twitter.com/IYvSJnlv1q
— Arnaud Bertrand (@RnaudBertrand) July 2, 2022
In a column last week, I argued that the cat was therefore out of the bag, and Britain’s Daily Mail soon proved me correct, publishing an article that finally broke the media embargo:
The Daily Mail has long specialized in covering those subjects too “hot” for the rest of the mainstream media. As a result, it has achieved a reach second only to that of the venerable BBC, with more than twice the traffic of the Washington Post and five times that of the Wall Street Journal. The explosive story about Sachs’s revelations quickly accumulated a couple of thousand shares and 1,800 comments.
Furthermore, a previous February article in the Daily Mail had discussed new scientific evidence that a crucial component of the Covid virus came from a sequence previously developed and patented years earlier by Moderna, a leading American biotech company. Although there is no evidence that Moderna itself had any direct connection with Covid, this seemed to establish that the virus was indeed artificial and further suggested an American origin.
So courtesy of Sachs, a public debate has now begun on whether Covid came from an American lab. But the two earliest major outbreaks occurred in China and Iran, striking the two countries in the world most subject to American hostility, surely a rather implausible result from an accidental release.
The absolutely unmentionable subtext of the current discussion is the obvious possibility that the Covid virus was created in an American lab and then deliberately deployed against China and Iran just as the Iranian government had claimed at the time, eventually leaking back and devastating America and the rest of the West.
Over the last two years I have been virtually alone in advocating this controversial hypothesis, which has been almost totally excluded from both the mainstream and the alternative media. My lengthy series of articles can be read on this website, and have also been collected together in a freely available eBook, which has been downloaded more than 11,000 times:
In 1986 the globally-dominant Western media ensured that the Chernobyl disaster came to symbolize Soviet incompetence and dishonesty, and used that incident to inflict a crippling and perhaps ultimately fatal blow upon the tottering Soviet Empire. But today, the West still totally dominates global media, so as yet the American Empire has suffered no serious consequences for its likely role in the vastly greater Covid disaster. However, that may now be starting to change.
Google and Facebook are the primary gatekeepers to the global Internet, and days after I published my first article in April 2020 analyzing the origins of Covid, they banned our website and deranked all of our pages, severely reducing our ability to disseminate our information. Similarly, Google’s Youtube division is the world’s dominant video platform, and apparently shadow-bans videos if their discussion of Covid strays too far from the standard narrative.
However, Youtube’s increasingly strict political censorship on so many topics has created an opening for rival video platforms, and according to a March New York Times article, Rumble has become the primary competitor, especially attracting conservatives and Trump supporters alienated by Youtube’s severe restrictions. After Russia’s large RT channel was banned by Youtube, it also shifted to Rumble.
Rumble’s traffic still remains merely a sliver of Youtube’s, with the latter attracting roughly 100x as many monthly visits. But Rumble’s refusal to suppress controversial content has left it as one of the best choices for those who challenge establishment dogma, and I’ve been very pleased with my own results. Just before the February outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, I did several video interviews on my Covid analysis with small podcasters, and these have now been viewed more than 600,000 times on Rumble, including over 100,000 additional views in just the last ten days.
Moreover, two of my video interviews have now broken 200K views each, totals that would seem to rank them among the most popular on that video platform.
Having been banned by Youtube, Alex Jones now focuses on Rumble and he has 127K subscribers, but if you sort his videos by views, none have broken 70K views. If you search for “Tucker Carlson,” about a dozen of his videos are over 300K, but the overwhelming majority are far below 100K. And except for its continual Livestream video, only four of RT‘s Rumble videos have broken 100K views, with the vast majority being closer to 10K views.
If my interviews with tiny podcasters may have accumulated more views on Rumble than 98% of the videos featuring Alex Jones or Tucker Carlson or by RT, that suggests the enormous potential audience for a candid discussion of the likely true causes of a global disaster probably a thousand times more serious than Chernobyl.