The capitalists who control the US Government are fighting this Global War of Conquest for their own economic survival, not to benefit the SARS virus. But the effect is very much the same as if they were fighting their wars for SARS. The destruction of public health services and the other policies set in motion by the capitalists have created the conditions that not only allow deadly plagues like SARS to develop, they make these plagues inevitable.
SARS is the third new fatal epidemic disease to emerge in the last twenty years, and it is the most dangerous. Unlike AIDS, SARS spreads rapidly like the common cold that it is apparently related to. Even with all the efforts to quarantine it, SARS cases have been on average doubling every two weeks since the first infection in November. At this rate, it could spread to the majority of humanity in ten months. Since it seems to have already escaped into the general population in China, and possibly in Canada, it could spread even faster now unless means are found to combat it.
Also unlike Ebola, SARS does not sicken its victims so rapidly that they become incapable of moving about and spreading it. It has a 10-day incubation period until symptoms appear.
SARS does not kill everyone but its death rate is huge and it kills quickly--in about two weeks after symptoms appear. While newspaper reports have quoted a 4% or 5% death rate -- dividing the dead by reported cases-- matters are even worse. Since the virus is spreading so quickly, many reported cases involved people who have not had SARS long enough to die from it. IResearchers have now found that the death rate is about 2-=25%, even with the best treatment. With the limited treatment available if a mass epidemic overwhelms available hospitals, the death rate will probably be twice that. If such a disease sweeps the world, it will be a catastrophe comparable to the Black Death of the fourteenth century--hundreds of millions could die. Even if SARS is contained, there is good reason to believe that there will be more such epidemics in the near future.
Capitalist looting creates the conditions for these epidemics in several ways. First, IMF-designed policies mandate high taxation of poor peasants in order to drive them off the farms, creating a supply of ultra-cheap labor in the exporting factories. In Africa, and now again in China, these huge forced migrations allow animal-borne diseases from the farms, which would have been isolated and burn themselves out in small villages, to find vast numbers of potential hosts in crowded slums.
Second, the 16-hour work days, and squalid living conditions of the new workers create enormous stress that weakens workers' immune defenses. This large, often sick, population--in China involving 100 million urban migrant workers-- is an ideal breeding ground for infectious diseases. The great increase in the virus population in turn greatly increases the rate of new mutations, and thus the generation of new epidemics.
Third, capitalist policies have gutted public health serves that could catch and rapidly isolate new diseases before they can spread. Henk Bekedam, a representative of the World Health Organization says that in China "the public health system has collapsed over the past 10 to 20 years because the central government has not invested in health." Concentrating investment in export industries, China gutted its rural clinics. It now has no way to stop the spread of SARS throughout its hinterland and back into its cities. Premier Wen Jiabao, admitted that the system was so inadequate an epidemic could spread “before we know it” and “the consequences could be too dreadful to contemplate”. Given the interconnectedness of world trade there is no way that an uncontrolled epidemic in Chain, home to one fifth of humanity, would not spread to every other country on earth.
Not only does capitalist destruction of working conditions and public health make new epidemics unavoidable, capitalist gutting of education means that as the years pass, fewer and fewer doctors will even exist in the future to fight new epidemics.
Finally, the mechanisms of repression and control that governments around the world are using to defeat opposition to the looting cripple the free and open discourse that can nip epidemics in the bud. In China, fear of expressing dissent has become fear of reporting any form of bad news. The secrecy that Chinese official enveloped around the SARS epidemic allowed it to spread initially. The secrecy, the suppression of dissent, the attack on civil rights, on the right to speak out, now occurring in the United States is a first step toward the same form of pervasive fear of dissent that could cripple efforts to fight disease in the future. Civil rights are not a luxury--in today's world, they are essential to survival.
SARS is the result--the inevitable result-- of three decades of capitalist looting. Its origination is not "natural phenomenon", but a product of capitalism. Those who have designed and enforced the policies of "capitalist globalization"--the leaders of the world's corporations and the leaders of the governments that serve them, especially the government of the United States-- are directly responsible for the death of every SARS victim.
The War of Conquest in the Middle East greatly worsens all the conditions needed for the spread of epidemics. With hospitals essential wiped out, there is no way available to isolate and treat SARS vicimts if the disease reaches Iraq--or even worse, Afghanistan. While the conquerors retreat into their protective gear, Iraqis will be decimated--spreading the disease to neighboring countries.
If SARS is stopped before a global pandemic ensues, the destruction of Iraqi public health and education will mean that with each passing year it will be more vulnerable to future epidemics, and may well become a breeding ground for such epidemics itself. And that picture will be multiplied around the globe as the War of Conquest destroys other nations. The result will be an accelerating cycles of destruction of culture, essential services and living standards, leading to waves of epidemics, with no end but, in the words of Rosa Luxemburg " as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration, a vast cemetery."
Today, the process that took six centuries to reduce Rome from invincible military power to ruins, amidst plagues that eventually destroyed 90% of its population, will be shortened to a few decades at most, as the sacking of Iraq was compressed to a few days.