My friend Gulzar Natarajan shared the article, ‘the tragedy of two failing superpowers’ by Martin Wolf (FT, 31st March 2020). Although the title of the article mentions two failing superpowers, the predominant impression that the reader is left with is that it is about one failing superpower and that is the United States of America.
For two nations to collaborate, both sides have to trust each other and share information. In the case of Covid-19, the People’s Republic of China did not do so. Just to recap, there were three major failures and at least one of them continues to this day:
(1) Suppression of the flu outbreak for five to six weeks
(2) Banning travel from Wuhan only to other parts of China
(3) Not reporting the true number of infections.
One does not even have to go into the spin on controlling the infection more efficiently than others; ridiculing other nations and even daring to suggest that the virus originated elsewhere.
Indeed, the chart shown in the article raises more questions than it answers about China’s role in the spread of the virus to different parts of the world and to different parts of the United States of America than of America’s ineptitude.
To this reader, it raises questions of whether it was China’s ineptitude (or something else) that contributed to the spread of the virus all over the world.
However, in the article, there is only one “dismal presidency with malevolent incompetence”. The other one is a repressive but effective state. Oh, well…
It is equally amusing to read that one nation had failed to create widely shared prosperity at home and displays bellicosity abroad and that the name of that country is….. The United States of America.
Now, let us come to the thesis of the book, ‘Has China won?’, the review of which is supposedly the purpose of the article.
I have not read the book nor does the review shed much light on the contents of the book except a couple of lines of reference to the book.
Whether or not the West is in decline, the East is not rising. Post-2008, the East is mired as much in debt and distress as the Western nations are. East lacks institutions and personalities to prove effective counterfoils to the excesses and mistakes of power.
The 21st century may not belong to the West. We do not know. If it is premature to conclude that, it is more premature to conclude that it would belong to the East. My money would certainly not be on the latter.