Blaming others may be unfair, but it calms passions because it identifies the problem with an external source and makes it easier for nations to put up with its consequences because they cannot control the behaviour of that source, writes Andrey Sushentsov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club. As in previous eras, blaming others is an effective political tool used by governments on all continents.
The global crisis in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic has become the biggest challenge for national governments everywhere. One of the most common tools that politicians use to avoid being held accountable for the consequences of a pandemic is to blame others. In this way, the government shifts public attention, tries to maintain political initiative and, ultimately, to avoid an internal political crisis.
As a result, conspiracy theories multiply. However, blaming others also means exerting pressure on internal and external opponents.
The United States has set the standard for such allegations. President Donald Trump, in his commentary, uses the term “Chinese virus” to refer to the coronavirus and proposes an “American solution” for this “attack”. The Trump administration is also speculating about the possible artificial origin of the COVID-19 virus in a biological laboratory in Wuhan, China. In his comments, President Trump called coronavirus a more serious challenge for the United States than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor or the 9/11 terrorist attacks: “It should have never happened. Could’ve been stopped at the source. Could’ve been stopped in China. It should’ve been stopped right at the source. And it wasn’t."
The United States suspended membership in the World Health Organisation and ceased contributions to its budget. According to the US administration, China misinformed everyone regarding the extent and danger of infection, and the WHO actually became “China-centric” and “a puppet of China”. Trump also speculated that China either could not stop the spread of coronavirus, or allowed it to spread freely.