“The hypocrisy and hubris of Western governments and the Western media is there for all to see. Their sense of entitlement and superiority is palpable. This self-righteousness blinds them to reality and they persist in their own delusional thinking about the role they play in the world. The West thinks it knows best and doesn't have anything to learn from the rest of the world. It is for the rest of the world to follow their lead. Any challenge to their perceived wisdom is seen as an attack on so-called ‘universal values.’ which they themselves frame,” Dennis Etler, a professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, told Tasnim.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: According to reports, the coronavirus outbreak across the US is getting worse, with damage accelerated by shortages of key medical supplies. As of Thursday evening, there are over 82,000 confirmed cases nationwide, with nearly 1,195 deaths. The spike of cases has hospitals around the country scrambling to keep up with the demand for care.Warnings of shortages have reverberated across the country as state governors have pleaded with the federal government to make more supplies available. What is behind this mismanagement? How do you see President Donald Trump’s role in this?
Etler: The situation in the US regarding the accelerating COVID-19 pandemic continues to get worse by the day. This was predicted by epidemiologists as soon as the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was identified by Chinese scientists as the vector causing the disease. Its genome was sequenced in early January 2020 and China began a whole of society response to the burgeoning epidemic, resulting in its ultimate containment and control by mid-March. China was the first victim of the pandemic. It had to start from scratch without any knowledge or experience with the novel coronavirus. Their quick and all-encompassing response was there for the whole world to see. By early January it was clear that COVID-19 had the potential to become a devastating global pandemic. There is, therefore, no excuse for not preparing for its eventual spread. There was even recent experience with the American Swine Flu pandemic which quickly spread across the globe in 2009.
If the US Trump administration had taken the COVID-19 epidemic in China seriously they would have prepared well in advance. They should have procured and stockpiled the necessary test kits, ventilators and protective gear needed to combat the disease. The US has the expertise to have done that but didn't. If they had, the coronavirus could have been nipped in the bud. It is extremely disingenuous for the US government and the Western media to cast aspersions on China for being the country that first dealt with the coronavirus when it was the West itself that was negligent and blasé in dealing with its deadly potential.
Tasnim: More than six weeks into the Trump administration’s response effort — which began Jan. 29 with the announcement of a coronavirus task force and, two days later, the declaration of a public health emergency — ramped-up testing for the virus has only just begun, hospital systems say they don’t have enough beds and medical supplies to handle the onslaught of anticipated patients, and there is a shortage of respirators, ventilators and other protective equipment for nurses and doctors on the front lines. The emergence of the coronavirus exposed the vulnerability of Western governments in the face of such pandemics despite their “advanced medical technology”. There are reports that elderly people are not receiving medical treatment across Western hospitals due to shortages. Western governments always brag about their measures to fulfill "social justice". Where is it now? What do you think?
Etler: The hypocrisy and hubris of Western governments and the Western media is there for all to see. Their sense of entitlement and superiority is palpable. This self-righteousness blinds them to reality and they persist in their own delusional thinking about the role they play in the world. The West thinks it knows best and doesn't have anything to learn from the rest of the world. It is for the rest of the world to follow their lead. Any challenge to their perceived wisdom is seen as an attack on so-called "universal values." which they themselves frame. This extreme prejudice reinforces a narrow parochial self-interest which they define as "social justice" and impose on the rest of the world.
Tasnim: Many countries across the world have been hit hard by the virus, including Iran and the US. The situation in Iran could get worse as the White House has refused to lift its unilateral sanctions despite a growing global outcry against them. However, Washington has offered to help Iran with the contagious virus despite the sanctions and its own shortages. Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei recently spoke out about the offer and said it is “very, very strange” that the Trump administration would be offering some form of help when it is blockading medical supplies and equipment from reaching Iran. What is your take on this?
Etler: The US offer of help to Iran is laughable. If they really had a sincere interest in the welfare of the Iranian people they would lift their illegal sanctions and allow Iran to function as a normal member of the world community.