Can inept US intelligence agencies trace COVID-19 origins?: Global Times editorial
Published: Aug 19, 2021 09:37 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The fall of the Afghan government and army in 11 days shocked the Western world. The clumsy policymaking of the US administration and the failure of US intelligence's assessment have been exposed to the world. 

The US ability to respond to crises has long been exaggerated. US intelligence services appear as if they are omnipotent. Although US intelligence agencies had made mistakes before, and even fell into political scandals of disinformation, US manipulation of public opinion as well as Western public opinion deeply influenced by Washington helped conceal those wrong doings. The "prowess" of American intelligence agents promoted by movies like Mission: Impossible is often more accepted by audience.

The drastic change in Afghanistan can be regarded as a fact sheet that pricks the bubble of American-style hypocritical propaganda. It is so shocking that no lies can hide. It has revealed the true competence of US intelligence agencies and their lack of pragmatism and independence.

If US intelligence agencies could have predicted earlier the collapse of the Afghan army, the Biden administration wouldn't have ordered such a hasty withdrawal. It is said there are some 1,000 US intelligence agents in Afghanistan, along with an unknown number of local informants and paramilitary fighters. But clearly, US agents hadn't penetrated into Afghanistan's grassroots, or understood the actual conditions of regions occupied by the Taliban, or acknowledged the real thoughts of Afghan government and grassroots combatants. 

After the Cold War, the US intelligence community has been increasingly politicized. Perhaps the victory in the Cold War promoted US political arrogance, making Washington believe that it can rule the world even if there are some strategic flaws. As politicians and ruling groups care more about their own interests, the intelligence community has had to cater to those domestic political interests. Thus, the intelligence agencies have conceded their accuracy for cozying up to politicians. 

The Biden administration rushed the military withdrawal and flaunted the decision as an achievement of the Democratic administration. The intelligence community worked to support Biden's decision instead of ringing the alarm to embarrass the Biden team. Even though they might have different opinions, they expressed it mildly. Such being the case, the intelligence agencies' assessment showed to people it was more optimistic than that of media. Until August 11, a US defense official still cited US intelligence as saying that Taliban fighters could isolate Kabul in 30 days and possibly take it over within 90 days. 

Famous intelligence agencies like the CIA behaved like a bunch of idiots while more like frauds because they didn't have concrete intelligence while adhering to the political principle to prioritize what supervisors want. Their ability to predict the situation in Afghanistan was even weaker than many ordinary people who follow international news on their smartphones.

What is worrying is that Biden has ordered the CIA, which is not capable but only does investigations that cater to the needs of its boss, to investigate origins of COVID-19 three months ago. According to the deadline, the intelligence agencies are expected to submit their report by the end of this month and make a conclusion whether the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan or jumped naturally to humans from animals.

Such an extremely ridiculous order was met with not even a single doubt from US opinion. The US elites are waiting for an answer they need. Over the years, from the president, the Congress to opinion institutes, they have become used to the fact that intelligence agencies speak out for US national interests and give a fitted conclusion at key moments. Political coordination of US intelligence authorities is much more important than their objectivity. Even they are proven wrong later, they would not be held accountable.

The Afghanistan fiasco makes people see empty-headed and loyal US intelligence authorities who have no will nor ability at all to investigate the origins of the virus. They were wrong in judging the situation in Afghanistan, an area they are supposed to be good at. The origins tracing, which is far more difficult, is way beyond their professionalism.

Their real expertise is being politically manipulated - this is what the WHO experts cannot match in any way. US political power, intelligence community and media have formed a veteran interest chain: the political power makes orders, intelligence agencies forge materials, and media is responsible for propaganda. Therefore, people can see the intelligence community, whose work should have been highly confidential, repeatedly interact with mainstream media outlets, bringing "precise" fake intelligence to the public.

Let's wait and see another ugly show starring the US administration and intelligence agencies. As they have shocked the world with their performance in Afghanistan, people are now more mentally prepared for another farce.