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In my previous blog entry, I wrote about the possibility of the current cold war between China and the US heating up and how it could bring biological warfare to a new, devastating level.

In light of the deep ideological differences between the two superpowers coupled with the almost daily jibes being exchanged, it’s not that difficult to imagine a casus belli. A more optimistic take is that, as was the case for Cold War l, while they might reach the precipice, neither side will take the plunge to destruction. Not directly anyway.


The front line of today’s war; nobody is safe. (Photo by Andri from pexels.com.)

Waging cyberwar
The USSR-US stand-off was characterised by many proxy wars — Latin America saw its fair share of bloodshed in this regard — so at the very least we can expect something similar in Cold War II. Again, though, the shape of them will most likely be quite different from the battles fought in the 20th century.

In fact, electoral interference by Russian actors, state-sponsored as it is seen to be, gives us an idea of the clandestine proxy conflicts to come. Rather than directly or indirectly fight each other, the belligerents will attempt to deepen divides in enemy territory to fuel ongoing internal strife and instability. War on the cheap for the instigator. It’s also relatively low-risk with potentially high rewards.

In the US particularly, from the outside looking in, it appears not merely a case of the seeds for division having been planted, they’ve sprouted and are already in bloom in many respects, thanks in no small part to the media. For pretty much every issue, consensus is out, contestation is in. An insignificant spark is all that’s needed to set off the warring factions.

The media, both traditional and new-age, amplify any divisions by a considerable amount, while in some instances they create them where none really exist. On the ground, the differences are often much less pronounced than they are made out to be. This gives some cause for hope. (Take a week’s break from Facebook, Twitter and the media in general and there’s a big chance you’ll become more relaxed.)

Be that as it may, two-form media manipulation is as strong as it’s ever been. There’s manipulation of the media itself by outside forces as well as the media’s own malignant influence on the people it speaks to.

On the first of those, in terms of superpower conflict, we’re already in a hot war and have been for some time. From a Western perspective, this is relayed to us, as mentioned above, in terms of Russian interference. No doubt it’s a two-way street, perhaps done more overtly than covertly by the West, as in public denunciations of the dirty tactics from conniving Eastern powers, while at the same time, we must assume, playing them at their own game.

‘At this remove, the thinking must be that the West can be crushed by the very things it holds dear — its open society and liberalism.’

However, considering the more muzzled media in the likes of China and Russia compared to the West, interference by the latter on the former in this sphere is unlikely to be too effective.

Now the fact that we hear dissenting voices and have verbal battles over the best course of action for a given situation is in itself not a bad thing. It’s what liberal democracies with a free (in name anyway) press are all about. In “normal” times, this works fairly well.

Problems arise when our leaders look to unite the citizens behind a cause, especially an emotive one that is, literally, a question of life or death. This is what we’re seeing right now with coronavirus. The divide it has created brings to mind the old aphorism, ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.’

Comedown from a liberal high
In one sense, it’s an inevitable product of an open, literate society replete with multiple sources of information available to the masses. If we lived under an authoritarian regime there would really only be one narrative. Thankfully, we’re not subject to that — yet.

Moreover, deciphering what is #FakeNews from genuine information isn’t easy in this particular conflict. There isn’t even agreement amongst those best qualified to speak on the matter, so little wonder many lay folk, Google at hand, have serious doubts about debatable decisions being taken for ‘our own health and well-being’.

As I wrote about previously, the approach to dealing with coronavirus isn’t a simple black-and-white issue. It’s not, as some like to make it out to be, a dollars-versus-lives decision. It’s fair to say most agree that measures taken to stop coronavirus at all costs, to prevent premature deaths due to the virus in the here and now will have knock-on, adverse effects for some time to come.

Thus, while we can unite behind this common microscopic enemy to the extent that pretty much everybody wants it to go away — or, in the likelihood that it doesn’t disappear any time soon, that it becomes less a burden on us than it currently is — we’re far from united on how best to achieve this. (With such differences of opinion it’s easy to understand why controlling the flow of information becomes such an attractive option for those in power.)

We can only assume that this makes for pleasant viewing for the monolithic systems in Beijing and, to a lesser extent, Moscow. At this remove, the thinking must be that the West can be crushed by the very things it holds dear — its open society and liberalism.

So have we given our worker ants access to too much information to the point that they’re now harming the system itself? Answering in the affirmative, it can be said we’ve already reached peak liberalism and operating at such heights has made us lightheaded. It’s far from clear as to the best route down to a safer level, if one exists that is.
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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor Irlandés, quien ha estado viviendo en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y cultura, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-colombia-cast.

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    @wwaycorrigan [Listen to an audio version of this blog entry here.] In the 1972 classic, Godfather, there's an early scene where Don Corleone berates his godson, Johnny Fontaine, for crying because he didn't get a part in a movie. 'Godfather, I don't know what to do', a sobbing Fontaine mutters. Cue a slap in the face and a violent retort, 'You can act like a man', followed by a gentle mocking of his behaviour from the Don. [caption id="attachment_4643" align="aligncenter" width="347"]People who cry regularly get on Wrong Way's nerves. 'Let it all out ...' (Image from emojipedia.org.)[/caption] Crying times That scene is set in the late 1940s, a quite different world from that which we inhabit today, to state the obvious. These days, it's all about being in touch with one's emotions. It's OK to cry, whether you're a man, woman, child or however else you define yourself. Don't suppress your feelings, let it all out. I don't completely disagree with that approach. For one, for the most part, it's good to be honest about how you feel — at least if you're asked that is. What I don't like, what irritates me, is when the waterworks start, especially — although not exclusively — when it's men who are shedding the tears. This is where I side with Don Corleone. It's not that it makes me uncomfortable, it's more a case that I find it hard to take seriously men who cry with regularity. As for women, whether the tears are genuine or not, they often, um, precipitate a granting, justified or not, of whatever they may be looking for. I generally make an exception for death, but even in that there seem to be people who let flow more than really appears "necessary". (Perhaps we could introduce a tear scale. 'Careful now, you're close to your limit.') Bidding adieu to loved ones for an indefinite period of time is another "acceptable" tear-jerker. Alcohol-induced crying is also excepted, meaningless as it often is.

    'When the tears in others come they invoke a negative, cold reaction in me. Rather than wanting to help, I have a desire to walk away.'
    This aversion towards, bordering on utter contempt for crying has something to do with, it's safe to assume, my childhood. I was, after all, a serial crier into my mid-teens. Then, from about 15 onwards, I started to develop a strong dislike when seeing others well up for reasons that I would have considered rather inconsequential. During that time, no doubt having to deal with me, her last born, I recall my mother crying for what seemed like the merest of reasons. It used to get my blood up. Even if I'd been told it was all largely down to the menopause, it's unlikely I would have been sympathetic to her plight. Selfish teens, eh. Dry your eyes, mate This clearly left its mark. For in my current abode, the landlady, a nice woman I hasten to add, cries on an almost-daily basis. It's not only, as has happened a fair few times, a headache when she does it speaking directly to me about some grievance or another (these grievances have nothing to do with me, by the way!). It also irks me simply when I can just hear her sobbing away in her room. I know I should probably be a little more empathetic considering she suffers from depression, it's just when the tears in others come they invoke a negative, somewhat cold reaction in me. Rather than wanting to help I have a desire to walk away. It's not that I lack understanding. In fact, I'd wager I take the time to listen to and empathise with other people's gripes as much if not more so than the next person. I just wish they'd leave the crying out of it. The British-Irish band The Pogues sang in Streams of Whiskey, 'there's nothing ever gained by a wet thing called a tear'. That's not fully true, but I wish it was.   _______________________________________________________________ Listen to Wrong Way's Colombia Cast podcast here. Facebook: Wrong Way Corrigan — The Blog & IQuiz "The Bogotá Pub Quiz".

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  1. Yes, this is a new kind of warfare. Inspired by Chinese thought, something as small as a virus can bring the West down. The Chinese have studied their rival and know that USA is an individualistic society with a poor health system. This economic-biologic war leaves a loser, the West. And a winner, the Chinese economy. West don’t need to respond! . Chira will implode. No authoritarian regime that ambitions its growth to the detriment of neighboring countries or its own people has survived.

  2. jaimetorres0930

    Twice this week I watched CCTV4. Perhaps it was coincidence, but both times there were war images. The first time, military exercises with live ammunition. The second, rockets. I don’t understand Mandarin, though, so who knows

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