View: Coronavirus conflict is World War 3

The situation is more ambiguous with the ongoing World War Three conflict with the COVID-19 which has just in the last four to five months claimed 312,000 lives and infected 4.64 million. Conventional wisdom has it that the coronavirus started in ...

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History tells us that World War One and World War Two were named with retrospective effect. When the First World War started in August 1914, people on both sides thought the Great War (as they called it) would be over in a few months. Ditto with World War Two when Nazi Germany delivered a knock-out blow to the Allied powers in France in the summer of 1940. It was only later that it became painfully obvious that the conflicts during WWI and WWII would go on and on for months and years.

Both the first and the second world wars were also misnomers. Barring the British and German colonies, much of Asia and Africa and almost the entire continental region of Latin America (barring Brazil) was spared from World War One. During World War Two, Asia was dragged in because of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in the state of Hawaii in the USA. However, Latin America (barring Brazil and Mexico) was once again essentially spared the horrors of World War Two, as were the few European nations like Portugal, Spain and neutral Switzerland whose banks were open for business and deposits of looted property.

However, the COVID-19 coronavirus has affected the entire world, including Latin America which escaped the horrors of the first two world wars. Pop the question "Where is the coronavirus in Latin America?" and the answer, according to the website AS/CoAS (America Society/Council of the Americas) is an unambiguous "Everywhere". According to international media reports, Brazil has had two COVID-19 induced resignations of its national health minister while Mexico has just recently reported the worst ever daily surge in cases. And this time, unlike in the first two world wars, people are already aware that it will take months if not years to end the COVID-19 coronavirus conflict.

History is often written by the winners of a world war. When World War One ended with roughly 20 million people dying, the blame was pinned on Germany. The reparations imposed were so extortionately severe that it took more than a decade for the German economy to start recovering. (In 1923, hyperinflation was so acute and rising so fast that a loaf of bread cost 200 million marks and German workers had to be paid twice a day since their salaries were worthless by lunch-time.). All of which paved the way for the coming to power of the demagogue megalomaniac Adolf Hitler who plunged the planet into World War Two and was responsible for not only the horrors of war (over 60 million deaths) but the Holocaust and the deliberate massacre in concentration camps of six million innocents belonging to religious, racial and ethnic minorities.

The situation is more ambiguous with the ongoing World War Three conflict with the COVID-19 coronavirus which has just in the last four to five months claimed 312,000 lives and infected 4.64 million. Conventional wisdom has it that the COVID-19 coronavirus started in the wet food markets of the Chinese city of Wuhan where wild fauna like bats were being bought and sold and eaten by the people there. The conspiracy theory is that the virus was created in a Chinese government laboratory in Wuhan and that is escaped from there.

The one thing which is clear is that the global institutions created in the wake of World War Two have failed to fulfill their mandated responsibility to protect humanity. Even as late as January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general categorically stated that there was a medical emergency but that he was opposed to trade or travel bans on flights from Wuhan and other cities in China to the rest of the world. The only way the world can escape a recurrence is through a thorough and impartial international probe to medically ascertain the root cause of COVID-19 and the reasons for its spreading like wild fire.

Unlike the first two World Wars, this time around, the conflict is with an invisible enemy which can strike anywhere at any time. "We have met the enemy and he is us," opined Pogo the possum in Walt Kelly's cartoon strip to commemorate the observance of the first Earth Day's concept of environmental stewardship on April 22, 1970.

Fifty years later, that thought is even more relevant in the ongoing conflict since it is we, the people on this planet, who are responsible for the origin of the COVID-19 coronavirus and its world-wide spread. It is, therefore, we who will have to work together to find the solution even if we have to wear masks while doing so and while going about our routine day-to-day lives for much of the foreseeable future.
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