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No, the United States wasn't funding bioweapons research in Ukraine; this was part of a long-running effort to pay off ex-Soviet scientists so they wouldn't take their talents to South Tehran
If I ever write a book about the war in Ukraine (I’m never writing a book about the war in Ukraine), it will be called Everyone is Bad but Some People are Worse.
Yes, our clean energy fantasies gave Vlad the leverage he needed to be sure we wouldn’t do much more than complain when his tanks rolled over the border.
Yes, the way we ran from Kabul put a giant Kick Me sign on Kiev.
BUT IT IS RUSSIA THAT IS ATTACKING UKRAINE. IT IS RUSSIA THAT IS BLOWING UP HOSPITALS AND TURNING CIVILIANS INTO DOG FOOD.
Have you seen any Ukrainian tanks in Chelyabinsk? Have you noticed Ukrainian air assault troops hitting the tarmac at Sheremetyevo, preparing to roll to the Kremlin?
The Russians made this mess. And our own recent sorry history does not excuse them.
Good times at Abu Ghraib:
Yeah, that happened. It really did.
Everyone is bad but some people are worse.
Now, about those biolabs.
Back in the good old days the Soviet Union ran a large biological weapons program. Sometimes bad things happened with that program, notably in 1979, when an anthrax leak from a laboratory in Sverdlovsk killed about 100 civilians. The Soviets lied — shocker, I know — and blamed “tainted meat” for the deaths.
Then, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. The end of history, the triumph of democratic capitalism, yadda yadda yadda, yabba-dabba-doo. Meanwhile all those biological weapons labs (and nuclear labs too), and the scientists who worked for them, were now the property of a defunct and bankrupt state.
Which made them our problem.
Basically we had to figure out a way to put a bunch of proud scientists on welfare so they wouldn’t be tempted to sell their services to the highest bidder. We actually worked with the Russians to de-enrich the uranium in their nuclear warheads for a while, which was a pretty cool program.
Figuring out how to pay off the bioweapons guys was trickier.
You can’t deenrich anthrax, and those offensive biological weapons programs weren’t supposed to be happening anyway. In 1972 we and the Soviets had agreed to ban them. Instead we paid to upgrade the security at the labs and found ways for scientists to keep studying pathogens and chasing potential outbreaks - not just in the Ukraine, but all over the former Soviet Union, and then in other countries too.
As the Defense Threat Reduction Agency explains:
These efforts include facilitating the construction or renovation of more than 100 laboratory and storage facilities and coordinating more than 300 cooperative research projects aimed at safely studying, detecting, and diagnosing especially dangerous pathogens.
The boys at the Pentagon call this “defense in depth” - meaning, better to catch the nasties over there than over here.
None of this was illegal, or hidden, though some of the details of the programs were classified. And it’s been successful, more or less. You can tell from all the people who didn’t die in the great anthrax attack of 2019 that didn’t happen.
(Meanwhile, even as we spent billions to keep ourselves safe from foreign scientists, Tony Fauci and the boys pushed gain-of-function research to turn harmless coronaviruses into mortal threats, but that’s a story for another day. The call is coming from inside the house…)
Nor did the Russians have any problem with this long-running effort. Until now. Why now?
Come on, do I even need to explain?
You may have noticed the Kremlin’s lil adventure in Ukraine is not going exactly as planned. The Ukrainians are not cooperating with the first Russian excuse for the war, that Vladimir’s men needed to liberate Ukraine from its Jewish president and his evil Nazi army (say it fast and it makes even less sense!).
Now the Russians need a new excuse for their war and its crimes. It doesn’t have to be a good excuse, it just has to be something they and the Chinese can say that is a little less absurd than Zelensky drinks the blood of Russian children morning noon and night (they may yet get there).
Thus the talk of biolabs and bioweapons, which forces the media to explain that Ukrainian labs weren’t actually doing… whatever it is the Russians are hinting they were doing. The Russian argument works particularly well because the same media outlets now truthfully explaining that Ukraine isn’t cooking up anthrax spent the last two years claiming Sars-Cov-2 didn’t leak from a Chinese lab. Which doesn’t help their credibility.
However. I didn’t spend the last two years claiming Sars-Cov-2 didn’t leak from a Chinese lab. And I am telling you, scout’s honor, this is nonsense.
Don’t fall for it. Yes, the media is desperate for an excuse to ignore Covid going forward, and that’s one reason they are devoting so much attention to Ukraine - but the war is real, and it’s a pure power grab the likes of which Europe has not seen in some time.
Everyone is bad but some people are worse.
I was going to disable the comments on this one - they are going to be soooo predictable - but hey, I believe in free speech, so have at it.