Tag Archives: security

We live in a strange world – II

Dr. Sergei Smirnov, expert of Center for maritime transport and spatial logistics

Exactly one year has passed since my first comment on the impact of the new coronavirus infection on human civilization appeared on this site. I have to admit my obvious limitations as an oracle. Like the vast majority of earthlings,

I remembered too well the Hollywood plots when a magic vaccine created by the titanic efforts of WHO and the best scientists beats deadly pandemic, millions of people happily wait for their vaccination and finally, the dawn of a new day rises over the renewed world, which for sure will be better and happier than yesterday.

Reality, however, as usually, turned out to be much more mundane, sad and contradictory. WHO distinguished itself by its helplessness and inconsistency. Until now, they have not been able to even develop a unified methodology for testing and assessing the presence of immunity against COVID-19. By the “titanic” efforts of the pharmaceutical giants, a vaccine appeared, and not single, but a whole dozen. However, the bad virus continues to spread, mutates, masks the symptoms and kills. In general, it behaves like a normal ARVI, a fact that ordinary doctors initially had to clearly understand. Governments, with varying degrees of demonstrated concern (depending on domestic political considerations and the peculiarities of national mentality) continue to tirelessly protect their fellow citizens, gradually depriving them of civil rights and freedoms using high-tech methods. However, all this was quite to be expected.

I suggested that the pandemic would soon fade away, one way or another, and we would all have to face the many traditional and unconventional security threats again. Like the international terrorist organizations taking advantage of the new reality and start practicing bioterror methods. None of this has happened so far.

A year ago, I suggested that the pandemic would soon fade away, one way or another, and we would all have to face the many traditional and unconventional security threats again. Like the international terrorist organizations taking advantage of the new reality and start practicing bioterror methods. None of this has happened so far. With the pandemic, everything is clear; it will stay with us for a long time. The emergence of the AUKUS alliance, strange to the point of irrationality, should not be considered a threat to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region. It is in no way capable of playing the role of “Asian NATO”, its creators put completely different meanings into AUKUS. The terrorists, represented by the Taliban, seem to have succeeded, seizing power in Afghanistan without a fight in August 2021. However, it was not their merit. It happened only because a new president finally appeared in the White House, who was determined to end the absurd, but extremely expensive 20-year messianic adventure in the Middle East.

The real threat to peace is emerging in the economic sphere, more precisely, in international trade. Its contours and scale is not yet fully understood, but tectonic shifts may arise if we neglect it. I mean the progressive imbalance in the international logistics system caused not by the pandemic as such, but by the “fight” against it.

Honestly, I was mistaken with the security forecasts. Moreover, if one my mistake was with a “plus” sign, then the second – an unambiguous and big “minus”.

The real threat to peace is emerging in the economic sphere, more precisely, in international trade. Its contours and scale is not yet fully understood, but tectonic shifts may arise if we neglect it. I mean the progressive imbalance in the international logistics system caused not by the pandemic as such, but by the “fight” against it.

The crisis in logistics led to a creeping rise in prices for foodstuffs, building materials, metal products, timber, natural gas … it is easier to list what did not rise in price.

A year ago, we noted with satisfaction that maritime transport, which accounts for almost 90% of world trade, has passed the test of the first COVID lockouts with relative excellence. Then the world economy began to gradually recover, this process was very uneven in different countries. Since November 2020, a shortage of container capacities began to appear, the planned delivery time of goods was disrupted, the cost of freight increased, etc. We hoped that these were temporary troubles, that the system would restore the normal rhythm of work, let’s just wait a little bit.

A year has passed, and these problems have only worsened. The crisis in logistics led to a creeping rise in prices for foodstuffs, building materials, metal products, timber, natural gas … it is easier to list what did not rise in price. It is important to understand that the volumes of production and transportation have remained practically unchanged. The most complex system of international logistics, under the influence of managerial decisions of state bodies, could not keep in a state of self-regulating stability. It is only unclear whether the “red line” of destructive no return has been already crossed.

A special responsibility today lies with China. It is no secret that a number of unpredictable unilateral actions by China aimed to protect against the spread of coronavirus infection within the country have caused the major turbulence in the global logistics market.

The globalized economy seems to have learned how to deal with financial crises. Today we are dealing with a threat of a different nature. I am afraid that the patented recipes of economists – Nobel laureates will not help here. It is necessary to admit the fallacy of many management decisions, to coordinate as far as possible the anti-COVID policies of different countries and international organizations, to wait and pray that the mechanisms of the market economy will help to recover once more.

Fairly, I should note that the collective West bears its share of the blame for the current crisis, and a very significant one.

A special responsibility today lies with China. It is no secret that a number of unpredictable unilateral actions by China aimed to protect against the spread of coronavirus infection within the country have caused the major turbulence in the global logistics market. The No. 2 world economy, firmly determined to become the No. 1, and the main “global factory” cannot afford to isolate itself and make serious decisions without calculating their consequences for the development of external relations. You simply cannot obtain the status of a global superpower without taking responsibility for others. The domestic economic situation in China is rather complicated today. An attempt to reorient towards domestic consumer market to the detriment of foreign economic relations is likely to be doomed to failure.

Fairly, I should note that the collective West bears its share of the blame for the current crisis, and a very significant one. By turning on the cash printing machine and generously appeasing its own population, the West does not solve the problem, but removes it from sight, thereby aggravating the situation with the growing imbalance in global logistics. “Industry 4.0”, “green energy” – all this is great. However, we may not live to see this bright future…