25 September, 2020

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The Crisis Of Coronavirus & The Crisis Of World Leadership

By Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

On 15 November 2008, when the global economy was in the throes of the great recession, then US President George W. Bush convened the first G20 summit in Washington, to launch a collective global effort to stem the deepening financial crisis. Six years later, when Ebola virus struck West Africa, it was President Obama’s turn to lead the world response to that deadly epidemic. Both Presidents were in their second term, and neither was at the height of his popularity within America. Outside America Bush was universally reviled for his Iraq invasion, and Obama had lost much of the initial sheen after one term in office. Yet, they did what responsible leaders are supposed to do in times of crises. Their interventions made a difference and significantly reduced the devastation and deaths that would otherwise have been the case in 2008 and in 2014. Contrast the concerted global response undertaken already twice this century by two former US Presidents, with the total absence of any co-ordinated global response to the twin crises of coronavirus and a second economic recession, and the conspicuous incompetence of the current US President and his inability to show any sensible leadership when such leadership is most needed.

True, a summit gathering at this time is out of the question. In fact, in-person assembly of world leaders and their families should be ruled out for all time because they are expensive and hugely disruptive to the local populations of the host countries. The annual UN pilgrimage to New York City with all the family and friends in tow is another monumental waste of time and resources. Leaders can co-ordinate through skype and conference calls at a moment’s notice to deal with any situation, and any other US President would have done just that following the examples of President Bush and President Obama. Not Trump. 

The US sent 10,000 American personnel to West Africa to fight the Ebola crisis. President Obama set up a new global health security unit as part of the National Security Council. Trump disbanded it, cut funding to American health agencies, and generally withdrew from practically every commitment overseas, including the Paris Climate Accord and the Iranian nuclear deal. Indicating that he was going to do something big to stem the current coronavirus threat, Trump ordered a 30-day ban on all travel from Europe to the US, without any prior notification or consultation with the European Union or national governments. Courtesy is allergic to Trump. Earlier, he had banned travel from China, South Korea and other non-western countries. And he showed his inane racism by calling the coronavirus a “foreign virus.” His domestic performance in the current crisis situation is no less appalling. 

America’s saving grace is that its institutions, medical scientists, health professionals and civic leaders are picking up the presidential slack at every level of the country’s political society and community. Equally, there is great co-ordination across national boundaries among medical scientists and the professionals, and the technical leadership is being provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations. For all the flak that is flung at the UN from the mighty USA to little Sri Lanka, it is pertinent to ask where the world would be in a time such as this without the UN and its agencies. It is no different from the endless questioning of the role of government by market worshippers, and the grudging realization that there is no substitute for the government to deal with disaster situations, whether it is brought about by an epidemic, economic implosion, or the nature’s furies.   

Containment and Cure

China has demonstrated the full muscle of its state in containing the new coronavirus more than three months after it escaped from a Chinese wet market targeting human hosts. In Wuhan, the capital city of the central province of Hubei, where the virus spread started, COVID-19 is “basically curbed” according to President Xi Jinping. That is after extreme measures such as the total lockdown of the entire province and its 60 million people. Lockdown, isolation, instant building of new hospitals to provide surge capacity, and fortressing relatively unaffected cities such as Beijing, have been the modus operandi of the Chinese government to bring the virus under control. A senior Chinese medical adviser, Zhong Nanshan, has indicated that if the rest of the world would also take similarly aggressive measures, the virus threat could be contained globally in a matter of months, by June of this year. That should be encouraging news to other countries now battling the virus. 

According to the WHO, the reported cases at the end of last week are 136,875 in 128 countries, including 5,077 deaths. The leading scorers are China (80,981), Italy (15,113), Iran (11,364) and South Korea (7,979). Three countries have over 2500 cases: Spain (4,209), Germany (3,062) and France (2860). There are 1,264 cases in the US, and all the countries have less than 1000 cases. Many of them have under 100 cases, including the South Asian countries – India (81), Pakistan (20), Maldives (8), Bangladesh (3), and Sri Lanka is also reported as having three cases. Italy and Iran are still under water, while South Korea has managed to contain the virus spread. The coming week will show trends in Europe and the US.   

Africa would seem to be the safest continent, partly because of the small proportion of elderly people. The HIV epidemic had reduced the average life expectancy in Africa, to around 50 years at one point in some countries, and there are not many people over 70 or 80 years now living in Africa. The elderly are the most vulnerable cohorts to COVID-19, and Italy with the largest proportion of elderly citizens is registering the highest death rate owing to the new virus. With 81 cases, India’s tally is remarkably low for a country of 1.3 billion people. Hopefully, it would stay that way. For Sri Lanka, being small is not only beautiful, but is also safe. Like Singapore and Hong Kong, Sri Lanka is fortunate in having a single international airport and maritime isolation, as natural barriers against global epidemics. Sri Lanka has a high rate of life expectancy comparable to Western countries, which also means that Sri Lanka has a high proportion of vulnerable elderly people.

One aspect of the contagion spread that is being noted by some researchers is the east-west stretching of the coronavirus outbreak corridor between the 30th and 50th parallels, and including countries and regions where the average temperatures are between five-to-eleven Celsius and relative humidity ranges from 47 to 79 per cent. The virus has shown itself being able to spread through carriers who do not show any symptoms of carrying it. In the absence of an effective vaccine, the likelihood, according to epidemiologists, is that the virus will keep “spreading at a high rate and becomes endemic — regularly infecting humans, like the common cold.” 

The search for the vaccine is on, but it takes time and it is not going to go according to Trump’s timetable. There is positive news, however, from Canada, where the Prime Minister’s wife has contracted COVID-19 after a visit to England and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his entire family are in two weeks of self-isolation. A team of researchers from a major Toronto hospital and two universities has isolated the virus agent that is responsible for the current outbreak. The new development is expected to help those in in the research forefront worldwide in developing better diagnosis, treatment and potentially effective vaccines. 

The current crisis has also exposed the dangerous limitations of leaving health care to the market and insurance industry, which is now the state of play in the United States of America. Millions of Americans, who are temporary workers, have no insurance or free access to testing against the coronavirus. They do not have paid sick leave to stay away from work and stem the contagion spread. Absence from work will mean no pay, no income and no means to keep the house and feed the family. And the US is the only industrialized country where there is no maternity or parental leave after childbirth, and no publicly funded childcare program of any kind. 

Republican presidents and politicians have consistently dismissed these benefits as ideological excesses. Not anymore. The fear of the virus, and dogged determination of Congress Democrats, has enabled bipartisan consensus and the consent of the President to pass a new legislation over this weekend. The “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”, as it is called, will provide for: free tests for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured; paid sick leave for two weeks for individuals and up to 3 months of paid family and medical leave; and federal funding to support small businesses and  health programs.   

The Trump presidency has come to personify the worst in America for itself and for the rest of the world. Trump and Brexit have not only broken the world, but also their respective countries. America has never been so divided as it is now. And Prime Minister Boris Johnson is already having internal protests within his government notwithstanding his resounding general election victory. In the context of an unfolding economic crisis, each of the G20 countries is looking after its own interest rather than what is collectively good for them. The oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia shows the current divisions and lack of co-ordination. Saudi Arabia is the designated host for the next G20 summit in November 2020. That will be some gathering, with or without Trump.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    3

    I am wondering whether this is part of a Hybrid war against some countries. Some one say, over the years, they destroyed Iran’s economy and infra structure, it does not matter who the president is, and now Iran find it is difficult for them to contain COVID-19. I read different articles and one article says put of three TRILLION economic loss to the world, USA lost $1.25 Trillion or more. I think their stock market software crashed twice.
    Anyway, I think if it is part of a war, because we here so many hostile activities towards China, this is the worst war after the HIROSHIMA and NAGASAKI atomiC bomb drop. No one knew how to handle the after math. This Covid Virus may be a similar case. German President warned that 70%of her country’s resident’s would get the virus attack. As there are more than one strain or type, It can not be ONLY ORIGINATED IN CHINA. In military it should be a testing case. Even defence sectors of countries have commented on it. That is strange. China, Iran and Italy are three unconnected countries. Read this to get some different view point:
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/03/13/what-is-covid-19-trying-to-teach-us/

    • 3
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      JD,

      ” I think if it is part of a war”

      It makes a bit of a sense. Worst hit nations, China, Iran and Italy while Italy is the first EU country to sign Belt and Road Initiative. Notably, in the recent past, there had been few virus issues came and went in China culprits were poor animals. China culled linked animals in thousands, if not millions, and always imported from US to meet the domestic demands. Also notable, three US organizations simulated such an pandemic situation months before first patient with Corona-virus was identified. Bill & Melinda Foundation was one of them. Now Chinese are doubting Covid-19 might not have originated in China.

  • 2
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    https://www.voltairenet.org/article209437.html
    Another important is this article says USA had transferred , in this difficult times, 30,000 troops to Europe and they came without masks.

  • 8
    2

    Rajan Phillips,

    “The Trump presidency has come to personify the worst in America for itself and for the rest of the world. Trump and Brexit have not only broken the world, but also their respective countries. America has never been so divided as it is now”

    Thanks for your article. Yes, Trumph is a disaster for America, and the Coronavirus is making it clear. The Trumph disaster, had caused valuable time, and many more people will die and more economic damage will happen. Will the imbeciles who support Trumph realize it?

    Can’t we say the same thing about the Gotabaya Presidency, elected by the imbeciles, mean IQ 79, awaiting the COCID-19?

    What are the saffron clad monks, Priests and the Ulama doing about the COVID-19? None of their chanting and sermons will save them other than isolation.

    • 0
      0

      Amarasiri
      All extraordinary high intelligent none achieving wannabe world greatest leadership contenders are lamenting and whinging in Sri Lanka and wasting valuable time opining in the CT. What a tragedy for the planet earth.
      The leader who should be in the forefront of all the action should be Honorable Amarasiri the man with highest IQ and expert in recognizing imbeciles .
      It is rumored that he achieved this gift at very young age by observing his own families imbecilic behavior couple with moron-ism.

  • 7
    1

    This is nothing but karma.. for the last two decades, how many million innocent people have been killed in many parts of the world. All this are done by weapons produced by west and Russians. Now, they will pay the price, More virus to come to haunt all these people who committed crimes again humanity. Do not think Putin, Trump and others will get away with their killings of innocent lives. Ghosts will hound them and their souls. that is what going to happen.. Moreover, western greed is now paying off all this. More to come. wait and see how many more disasters to come to wipe out humanity because of some greedy people. Doom day is soon.

    • 4
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      lankan, even this time, it is the innocent civilians who pay the prices either being direct victims of the virus or indirect victims of the situation. Wait few more weeks, if not days and see how many job cuts will be announced all over the world, including SL.

      The world is closely connected that we can’t say we stay safe and our economy stays stable while Europeans, Chinese and US are affected. Good news might be, large corporations will consider scattering their offices across the globe, remote working teams & virtual office concepts will get serious attention after all these damages done & situation under control

  • 2
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    COVID19 = a Financial False Flag by the Deep State.

    • 0
      0

      Ill-ass Rumy – What makes an A.H. as you think so?

  • 3
    3

    Trumpy helped the NYSX to push the DOW up to 30.000 from 20,000 in just 18 months, although it took nearly 10 years to climb up to 20 from the .low 7.000 after the massive wreckage from the GFC..

    Last week it all came tumbling down like a Ton of Bricks to under 20, although it recovered a bit on Friday.
    Mostly due to the massive effect of the CoronaVD fears on the Global and the American Economy in particular.

    Trumpy probably thought CoronaVD is going to do a GFC one China, which he has been trying to do for most of his Term , specially the last two years with his Trade Wars..

    Mr Trumpy is on record saying CoronaVD is not only a Foreign Decease but a Hoax as well.
    It has now came back to bite his bum.

    There is no way America can control the spread of the CoronaVD the way China did.
    -\
    America will have to bite the Bullet and let people go about their daily lives ,as they do during the Influenza Seasons which comes around in Winter ,every year.
    And hope for the best.

    With the Summer around the corner , the spread of the Virus can be kept in check with the new Hygeine practices which have emerged with it.

    The problem though is there won’t be any ICU care for the critically infected, who will be the poor Frail and Elderly mainly from the migrant communities.

    But at least the younger healthy can go about their normal lives to earn the money to put the food o the Table than starving in isolation.-

    One of my close family associates is currently stressing how to keep his Staff and pay them their wages, if the small Businesses are forced to close even for a few weeks.

  • 5
    5

    I think, Sri Lanka is facing better because of the new president who is organized, determined and go0getter type. Any of these previous govts, if existed, would have made a mess in Sri Lanka. Just like they were hiding inside the bunkers during the war, Just like they were hiding inside the parliament without attending the SUNDAY MASS DURING THE APRIL 21ST EASTER ATTACK, the new govt prepared for the oncoming threats. Most countries were unprepared even though they had good intelligence information.
    Sri Lanka should collect epidemiological information about the origin of the patient and also the type or strain of the virus.

  • 6
    1

    Why talk about world leadership? The bloody crooks in the Airport let two infected ones inside and now telling all king Zero Casualty stories. Infected Italians Lankans
    are either are friends of the Airport Crooks or took money. Remember, Ex Customs officer, current Slap Party Governor of North, M/s Charles were going after 143 cartoons which came with government approval from America for transhipment? Now the Tamil area quarantine field has become like Rapist Army’s No Fire Zone Killing Field and Tamils are going to face another Mullivaikkal in Batticaloa.

  • 3
    0

    All cases of COVID 19 reported in Sri lanka are imports.

    Diaspora who took refuge with the Conquerers are fretting in fear and humiliating Sri Lanka here as the COVID 19 is spreading among the Conquerer Nations. To them sour grapes as at this point of time North or any part of Sri Lanka would have been better under any rule of Govt..
    This is Nature’s fury against the conquerers, destructors of Nations and for those who have dis-connected from their mother land for personal gains.

    All conquerers will be brought to their heels and no nuclear power will save them.
    SL bashers save those for the last as whatever it is SL is good enough to wither and blessed enough.
    The Western block is yet to face the worst.

  • 3
    3

    —–Snake Eating Uncivilized China manufactured Corona to attack developed countries.

    ——Fortunately, Chinese secret plan boomeranged on CHINA itself ——driving Canibal China to the next recession—–

    ————Corrupted China is in shit hole as well as the doomed POHOTTUWA led by Gothapaya-MaRa-Namal Clan —

    Jayawewa !!!!!

  • 1
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    Ongoing result of the Coronavirus which currently that World Economy is standstill; in the reality global-economy that Global Value Chain (GVC) and Global Supply Chain (GSC) are not in function.
    The major Production unites in China and USA other countries world order ,as well as exchange of commodities. are out of services.
    The crisis shifted to acute stage ,the consequences of that Wall Street stock market has lost the known amount is comes to closely USA $ 6.7 Trillion Dollars.
    Other of EU countries, Canada, Australia, Japan & UK markets are according GDP also similar percentage Lost in Stock markets by in terms of Billions of US dollars. Well that Global Crisis of economy and Recession which seems to be New form of castastroy is tremendous magnitude by new approach.
    The terms of that Marxist Economy analysis of crisis pose on Use-value- and Exchange- Value of Capitalist Economy operation is out of order. The whole world Economy stagnated and standstill immediately after that arise of Coronavirus since end of December 2019.
    Yes I agreed for leadership of crisis de factor is correct . Leadership by whom that is Capitalist classes of Bourgeois. The bourgeois revolution of USA led Imperialism domination has being disintegration in pace rate. No longer that Monopoly bourgeois of which leadership cannot bailout giant of US Economy by as a ruling classes.
    Therefor USA of Monopoly of bourgeoisie of Federal State of governances has TWO main problems of Debts.
    1 USA state its owes deficits and debt.
    2 The huge unfunded Liabilities of Social security and Medicare.
    The US maintain 1,000 military bases in US. Out of 95% Military bases are out of US soil. It cost annually by USA $ billion 700 to 725 each year. The crux of issue is USA govt.has no money ,so simply issue more bonds to cover their expenditure.
    Hence every year that US covered expenditure issue of Bonds are closed US $ One Trillion dollars.

  • 3
    1

    If Rajapakshes would be infected by CORONA, how our economy would go up ?-


    Today one time alelged murderous woman regarding Thadjudeen MURDER ( Shiranthi Rajapakshes) is said to be wasting millions of funds for her transport these days.
    They make a big fuzz about the people who enter the country from Korea and Italy, for a stay of 14 days in a quarantine, but they Rajakshes donot seem to even think of the losses being made for their own expenditure.
    Once they looted to all edges, Good governance govt saved the nation. Whoever whatever being said and done, Good governance did lot more good work. Sure, they coul dnot settle all the debt mountains ballige putha Rajaakshes deliberately created. But this was not painted by the media mafia handled by ONE another rajaakshe.

    • 1
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      SINHALA-GERMAN Expert,
      In 2005, the debt was around Rs. 2 trillion. Rajapakshe regime borrowed about Rs. 5 trillion and in 2015 when the ‘Jadapalana’ Government came to power the debt was around Ra. 7 trillion. The ‘Jadapalana’ Government had borrowed about Rs. 5 trillion increasing the debt to Rs. 12 trillion.
      For the Rs. 5 trillion Rajapakshe regime borrowed, we can see the output. Hambantota Port, Mattala Airport, Southern expressway, improving infrastructure in the North and East, improvement in roads all over the country etc. Can you please tell us what the hell Ra nil bellige putha did with Rs. 5 trillion they borrowed? To my knowledge, they have spent hell of a lot for drafting the Federal Constitution. I wonder how much Jadam pathy took to Switzerland.

  • 0
    0

    give me Break I wonder why on earth CT ran this article in first place…may be to please it’s Neanderthal Liberal -Lunatics Audience that defiance against Right wingers who speaks in favour of Gotahabaya…..
    —-
    How pathetic were CT to Criticize US & Brexit…..I can’t stand it when a Fast majority Voted for a Decision that Favours them what the heck a Failed 3rd world tiny biny country’s [Sri Lankan] Liberal Intellectual gave the right criticize them…..who the hell do you think you are…….as Trump Pointed out if western Europe have taken speedy steps by Stopping Airlines bringing Infected Chinese this Pandemic would have been averted…..but guess what Xenophobia & Liberalism make the best of it that led to whole western europe being Submerged in CORONA Pandemic….

  • 1
    0

    What I heard, Great Britain had peaked by 1850. After that, they could only go down. Some how, by 1950 they were leaving Asia because they no longer could fund that Asia itself mostly India and China or HK were difficult places. Then the involvement in SUEZ canal broke their backbone. Now, UK can not live without corporating with other countries. If Hilary Clinton came she would have done the same by starting wars all over the world. It looks COVID-19 is doing the same. Not only people, even countries think they are almighty gods and they never can surrender to the nature. Development is NOT ETERNAL. That is Asian Philosophy and Buddhism believes that every thing is temporary and is like a spiral or cyclic. I heard, Trump has allocated $ 6 billion or so to fight COVID-19.
    I am wondering the economic loss SHOULD BE staggering and too much to bear because of that,their camp INDIRECTLY SAY CORPORATE AND LET US DO THIS TOGETHER

  • 1
    0

    Think about in the middle of these thing, Russia annoyed with never ending sanctions, barriers are made for as==associating with EU and got into a fight with SAUDI ARABIA but not with OPEC AND CRASHED THE OIL PRICES. Right now, America is the world’s number one oil producer SHALE OIL (ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS). Russia says US has peaked in that and they no longer go higher than that. Oil industry is going to feel that and 50% of them expected to claim bankruptcy. On the other hand, saudi arabia says. OHH NOO, if we get into this fight we also have to do AUSTERITY MEASURES and people will not tolerate it.

  • 1
    0

    If China is helping Iran (one article, from the west, say over the years hybrid war destroyed Iran’s economy and infra structure, that can not cope with the COVID -19 attack. US Offered help to iran, that is dangerous, as they are not in good terms. Some say, even bringing back US troops to Europe in the middle of these, when EU has closed boarders to outsiders, is forceful (they may have developed immunity to it, or they are prepared). So, asking CORPORATION LOOKS ESSENTIAL.
    Think about sri Lanka’s infra structure being destroyed. Last several years, they were destroying education, health, finance, sathose and the trade network and even transport. Only positive thing is those women send money and most of those do not come is taken back for oil I suppose (If they are not paying to western company in Singapore)

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