China and Russia give authoritarianism a worse name

FILE PHOTO: Russian head of state Vladimir Putin shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as they meet on the sidelines of a BRICS summit in Brazil in November 2019 (Reuters)

The past decade has looked good for authoritarian regimes and tough for democratic regimes. Cyber ​​tools, drones, facial recognition technology and social media seemed to make authoritarians even more efficient and democracies more ungovernable.

The West has lost faith in itself and Russian and Chinese leaders have rubbed itshowing that these chaotic democratic systems were a depleted force.

And then something completely unexpected happened: Russia and China have gone too far.

Vladimir Poutine invaded Ukraine and, to his surprise, invited a proxy war with the NATO Yes West. China insisted he was smart enough to have his own local solution to a pandemic, leaving millions of Chinese unprotected or unprotected and, in effect, inviting a war with one of the most contagious viruses in the world. world. Mother Nature: the mutation micron of SARS-CoV-2. This lead to China to close everything Shanghai and parts of 44 other cities, about 370 million people.

In short, both Moscow What beijing They suddenly find themselves battling forces and systems far more powerful and ruthless than they ever imagined. Yes battles expose – to the whole world and to their own peoples – the weaknesses of their own systems. So much so that the world now has to worry about instability in both countries.

To fear.

Russia is a major global supplier of wheat, fertilizer, oil and natural gas. And China is the origin or a crucial link in thousands of global manufacturing supply chains.. Yes Russia stay out and China blocked for an extended period, all corners of the planet will be affected. And that is no longer a remote possibility.

Let’s start with Putin. He dozed off thinking that because his army had crushed a motley group of military opponents in Syria, Georgia, Crimea Yes Chechnyacould quickly swallow up a country of 44 million people –Ukraine– who, for ten years, had been advancing to join West and was tacitly armed and trained by the NATO.

So far it has been a military and economic debacle for Russia. But just as importantly, he revealed how the “system” from Putin relies so much on lying at the top – everyone tells the tops what they want to hear, until they reach Putin– as in drilling, the exploitation of the natural resources of Russiaenriching a few Russians, instead of freeing up the country’s human resources and empowering the majority.

The Russia from Putin it is essentially based on oil, lies and corruption, and it is not a resilient system.

We saw it on the eve of the war, when Putin led a nationally televised meeting of his top national security advisers, and none other than Sergei Naryshkinboss of Russian Foreign Intelligence Servicehe seemed confused as to the lie he meant Putin.

Putin says that the eastern provinces of Ukraine Donetsk Yes Luhansk became independent states and then sought confirmation from those advisers. But Naryshkin seemed to believe that Putin wanted to be told that the two provinces were to be annexed to Russia. While Naryshkin stuttered on the wrong answer, Putinwithout an ounce of irony, he blurted out twice that “will speak directly», as if it were already possible in the Russia from Putin. only after Naryshkin would give to Putin the lie he obviously wanted me to tell him, he growled at her:you can sit now”.

How many Russian servicemen who saw this humiliation were willing to tell Putin the truth about Ukraine once the war started to go wrong? When the Russian army faced enemies in Georgia, Syria, Crimea Yes Chechnya, Russia he could just bomb indiscriminately to get away with it. But now that the army of Putin found himself at war with the highly motivated army of Ukraine and its national arms industry, backed by some of the best precision weapons and training in the NATO, the rot has really started to show. Russian tank and logistics forces turned into several burning dumps in the west Ukraine.

And it’s impossible to overstate how much the Marine Russian to authorize command of the warship Russian Black Sea Fleetthe missile cruiser Moscowwould have been so damaged by two cruise missiles anti-ship Ukrainian manufacture, called Neptunethat he Moscow sank in the sea Ukraine last week, the greatest loss of a warship in combat in 40 years.

The fact that the Russian flagship responsible for coordinating all air defenses of the flotilla, and that it carried 64 air defense missiles S-300F Girwas shot down by enemy anti-ship missiles was to be the result of a cascade of failures in attack detection and response systems.

Also, missiles Neptune are not necessarilyship killers”. It is more likely that they were designed to be “mission killers”-to disable the radar and electronics of sophisticated destroyers like the Moscow-, so as not to sink them specifically.

So I pity the commander who had to tell Putin that the meanest and most monstrous Russian warship in the Black Sea, which was said to be his favorite, was sunk by a Ukrainian missile fired in time of war for the first time..

China It is a much more serious country than Russia: It is not based on oil, lies and corruption (although there is a lot of it), but on the hard work and manufacturing talent of its people, led by a the Chinese Communist Party top to bottom, with an iron fist but eager to learn from abroad. At least eager to learn in the past, but less so lately.

The economic success of China, and the sense of pride it generated, seems to have lulled its leaders into believing that they can basically act alone against a pandemic. By producing its own vaccines, rather than importing better ones Westand reorienting its highly effective authoritarian surveillance and control system to limit movement, conduct mass testing and quarantine any individual or neighborhood where the virus has emerged. COVID-19[feminine], China opted for a policy ofcovid zero”. If he made it through the pandemic with fewer deaths and a more open economy, that would be another sign to the world — a big sign — that Chinese communism was superior to American democracy..

But Beijing, while poking fun at the West, has been shockingly negligent in vaccinating its own elderly.. It didn’t matter so much when China was able to curb the spread of earlier variants of the coronavirus through strict population controls. But now it matters because Chinese vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac don’t seem to be as effective against Omicron as mRNA vaccines made in the West, although they are still effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths. Currently in Chinamore than 130 million people”over 60 are unvaccinated or have received less than three doses,” putting them “at greater risk of developing severe Covid symptoms or dying if they contract the virus“, recently reported the FinancialTimesciting a study by University of Hong Kong.

This lead to beijing opt for this total closure of Shanghaiwhich was so badly managed that the inhabitants would have had to scramble for food.

The doctor. David L. Katzexpert in public health and preventive medicine from United States who wrote one of this journal’s most visionary early essays on the management of covid At first he explained to me that the problem of having the kind of draconian closing policy that he maintains China it’s that you guarantee that your population will develop little native immunity for having acquired and survived the virus. So, says Katz, if the virus mutates globally, as Omicron did, and you have “a less than effective vaccine, virtually no natural immunity in the population, and millions of unvaccinated elderly people, you’re in for a bad time. situation and there is no easy way out”.

You cannot cheat or advertise to alienate Mother Nature; is relentless.

What is the moral of this story? High coercion authoritarian systems are low information systems, so they often blindly rule more than they realize. And even when the truth leaks, or reality in the form of a more powerful enemy or the Mother Nature it hits them in the face so hard it cannot be ignored, their leaders find it difficult to change course because their claims to the right to be president for life rest on their claims to infallibility. And that’s why Russia Yes China they are fighting now.

I am very concerned about our own democratic system. But as long as we can weed out incompetent leaders and maintain information ecosystems that expose systemic lies and defy censorship, we can adapt to a time of rapid change, and that’s the most important competitive advantage we have. a country can have today. .

(C) The New York Times.-

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