Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) gestures while speaking to Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan on Sept. 16, 2022. SPUTNIK PHOTO VIA AFP Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) gestures while speaking to Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan on Sept. 16, 2022. SPUTNIK PHOTO VIA AFP

Spillover from 2022: Ukraine and China's continuing gift to the world Featured

THE year 2022 is not done with us yet. It is continuing to spill over and influence the course of events in 2023. I don't see any silver lining. I see only a bleak landscape. But Filipino resilience as always will kick in. We really don't have any choice except to live through what 2023 has to offer. And we will survive! Or at least some of us will. For many of our people hope springs eternal. 2022 and the two previous years saw the double whammy of a catastrophe. The first was the pandemic that killed millions in its wake striking fear among the world's population, locking down their economies. The second is the continuing war in Ukraine exacerbating the lockdowns wreaking havoc on global markets.

Ukraine war

What many pundits predicted to be a short war of a few weeks after the Russian invasion of its neighbor, is now dragging toward its first anniversary on February 24. In my column of March 16, 2022, I said: "Today marks the 20th day of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. In the coming days Putin will unveil his endgame. Thousands will be dead and those that fled the cities are the lucky ones. Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv and Odessa will be reduced to rubble, proverbially comparable to when Tokyo and Japanese cities were firebombed, systematically killing civilians toward the end of World War 2."

I was totally wrong in my forecast! I understated Zelenskyy and the Ukraine people's resolve and overstated Putin's strength. But I was right about one thing:

"America will not shed blood for Ukraine. No 'boots on the ground'! With its NATO allies, the US will simply arm Ukraine, encourage it to resist, and Russian and Ukraine boys will die. Victims all for a surrogate war for democracy. Not a drop of American blood spilled. But this act by America and NATO using Eastern Europeans to butcher each other is pushing Putin into a corner. Putin will not allow Russian boys to die in hordes in a protracted war with Ukraine... America, true to its democratic principles and concepts of freedom, will allow the blood of Ukraine and Russia to flow for the very concepts America holds dear."

Putin has hinted on his nuclear option, but I doubt that he could put this in play, knowing full well the capabilities of the US and NATO allies, their second-strike capabilities and the unthinkable Armageddon that will ensue. But the military strategic doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD) is the deterrent. But who knows what madmen will do to survive. Totalitarian regimes in the past have proven to possess an insane mindset and act within these parameters. Putin's saber-rattling is designed to force the West and Ukraine to negotiate. Negotiations will allow Putin to "hold forces in place" giving him a deceptive advantage, having occupied Ukraine's eastern territories as a buffer that Russia could barely hold on to, let alone govern.

But no matter what happens to this war, the US military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC) has already won. To date, America has infused weapons, war equipment, security assistance and training, and financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine to the tune of $50 billion, presumably insulating the US arms industry from recession. But for the rest of the world, global prices for oil, gas and coal will continue to skyrocket, sending inflation to unprecedented levels and impeding the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Blame the culprit

And in times of great tragedy, the default excuse that gives pseudo-comfort to the afflicted is to put the blame for the pandemic on the culprit, China!

Since the breakout of the virus from an exotic meat market in Wuhan in 2019 and China's efforts to obscure the truth that only an authoritarian government is capable of doing, conspiracy theories have flourished. Foremost of these is the laboratory leakage of a weaponized virus for biological warfare, from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, partly clandestinely financed presumably by some US entity.

From this single incident, the virus spread from China to the world, forcing economic lockdowns. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated the cost to the global economy at a staggering $12.5 trillion. Economists had hopes of some type of recovery by 2023, but the World Bank and other multilaterals have run out of superlatives describing the harm to the world economy, with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva declaring that supply chain disruptions, inflation and tighter monetary policy were "throwing cold water on the recovery everywhere." All leading economists have different and contradictory views on the world economy. What most agree on is the greater widening gap between the have and have-not countries; and more tragically, the disparity within the countries themselves of their own poor and the rich populace not unlike the Philippines And more importantly, the two biggest world economies that are meant to be the world's main engines of economic growth are mired in their own roles in this pandemic.

Sequel to pandemic

Just recently, from Singapore a new deadly variant of the Covid-19 mutating to Omicron in early 2022 has now metamorphosed further into the Omicron XBB1.5. Reportedly, this is harder to detect, and far deadlier than the Delta variant which has killed millions. China was the last country to get out of lockdown not because they have conquered the pandemic, but the political offshoot was simply too much for Xi Jinping and the Communist Party to accept — the widespread protests erupting in major Chinese cities. Scientists have advanced the idea that China with its zero-Covid policy with its harsh continuing lockdowns, has not achieved herd immunity unlike other countries, particularly those in Northern Europe. Apparently, these countries that lifted lockdowns earlier, and have allowed subsequent milder variance have attained herd immunity. But other world scientists have other theories, unsure about how to fight the closing days of the virus — if indeed the virus is dissipating. Our experts seem to be all merely speculating and playing the guessing game like the parable of the blind men describing an elephant, allowed only to touch and feel a different part, the trunk, the tusk, the ears, etc., all arriving at the wrong conclusions.

But most of the experts agree that we have not seen the end of the pandemic — and experts in Singapore, where the Covid-Omicron XBB variant was first detected, have proclaimed that this mutation displays symptoms mimicking other infirmities like joint pain, headaches, neck pain, upper back pain, pneumonia and general loss of appetite. But the XBB is five times more deadly than the Delta variant which has already claimed millions of lives, they said.

And toward the end of 2022, the populace has started to discard the World Health Organization's protocols: wearing of masks, avoiding crowded places, maintaining a 1.5-meter distance and frequent washing of hands. This simple spillover from 2022 may spell the difference between the resurgence of the new mutated virus, the death of millions more and the devastation of our economies.

Read 149 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 January 2023 10:57
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