Monday, February 03, 2020

How a Nation Uses Her Power in the Face of a Pandemic

Power is a funny thing. You can tell a lot about both a person and a nation by how they use that power.

There is the primary indicator, how they act, and there is the secondary indicators – often the most telling – of how others who are under their power or feel threatened by it, act.

A nice clarifying thing about pathogens, they don’t care about politics. They cannot be spun, negotiated with, bluffed, or co-opted. They just are. They are existence personified; they just will to exist.

Human DNA is full of the effects of our existence with pathogens. Though really bad ones may only happen every few generations or centuries, they are a regular occurrence on the planet’s timescale.

All this is known, but another thing that is known is that human ego, ignorance, greed, and the desire not to have their picayune plans interfered with by external forces has an equally long record of making the inevitable become even worse.

All of that is coming together in the response to the latest pathogen coming out of China; the coronavirus.

In the natsec world, we are aware of how China is using graft, greed, and a bit of bluff to build bases and influence through the world. It has also been clear, the Islamic world’s reaction to the Uighur suppression a point on this trend, that the Chinese have made it clear in back-channels that they will not take anything that makes China or the CCP look bad in a positive light WRT future support. They are exporting Chinese control of press and message to other countries.

Hannah Beach at the NYT
has a nice view of this phenomenon. Some examples:

In Myanmar, loudspeakers broadcast advice from Buddhist monks: Seven ground peppercorns, exactly seven, placed on the tongue will ward off the coronavirus spreading across Asia and the world.
In Indonesia, Terawan Agus Putranto, the health minister, advised citizens to relax and eschew overtime work to avoid the disease, which has killed more than 360 people and infected more than 17,000 others, mostly in China.

And in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen told a packed news conference on Thursday that he would kick out anyone who was wearing a surgical mask because such measures were creating an unwarranted climate of fear.

“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general
Bingo. If this gets loose in the mega-cities of the Indian subcontinent or Africa, there will be no holding it back. Their governments and civil society simply are not as strong as they are in China.

The best hope is that the concern about this virus is overblown. That is only hope, and by the time we know one way or the other, it will be too late.

We will see.

Pray for hype - as corrupt nations cannot contain anything.

The economic and societal impact of a 1919 Flu like pandemic is unquestionably a national security concern.

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