Comparing conservative government and social government responses to COVID19


This is the first of two part series examining the response of conservative governments to the COVID19 pandemic. The second part will examine the response of socialist governments. The politicization of the pandemic world wide has seen a diverse range of responses arise. It is also in part a reaction to some of the commentary I am getting from friends in America at the moment about the failures of the Donald Trump administration.

In Brazil, despite statistical analysis of the known cases suggesting a massive upwards curve in numbers of people infected and potential deaths, President Jair Bolsanaro appears to be playing down COVID19. Brazil’s internal reaction has been slow compared to other countries, in light of how many countries now have cases. An estimated 2 million people could die in Brazil in the worst case scenario if adequate measures are not taken to protect people. Just on Monday Mr Bolsanaro again suggested COVID19 was some sort of trick.

POTENTIAL DEATHS: TENS OF THOUSANDS; ACTUAL DEATHS: 34*

In Australia, New South Wales and Victoria have gone into lock down without waiting for instruction from Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The Australian Government, so heavily criticized during the recent bush fire emergency has now come under further attack for lacking a co-ordination strategy. Schools have not closed and restaurants and cafes may continue to do takeaway’s. Nightclubs, casino’s and places of worship. The international borders closed in conjunction with New Zealand’s. Although Australia’s rate of new cases is falling, only a comprehensive response will ensure it continues to fall.

POTENTIAL DEATHS: THOUSANDS; ACTUAL DEATHS: 8

In India, where millions of people lack basic sanitation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government has shut the inter-state borders as well as India’s international borders. Restrictions on all but essential activities include a largely nation wide lock down until 31 March. Concern exists about the readiness of India’s health system for an influx of tens of millions of cases, of which 4-8 million may be severe. Testing has only been done on about 22,000 people.

POTENTIAL DEATHS: HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS; ACTUAL DEATHS: 9

In the United States, despite a U.S.$1.2 trillion bill making its way through to Mr Trump’s desk, there is no clear strategy for a nation wide response, despite U.S. COVID19 cases sky rocketing. Some schools have closed, but some are still open. A couple of states are in lockdown, but a couple are not. Some businesses are closed, but many are not. No clear testing regime exists and many younger Americans seem to lack appreciation of the gravity of the situation. Some think that America might now face a similar trajectory to Italy, where thousands have died.

POTENTIAL DEATHS: 2.2 MILLION; ACTUAL DEATHS: 582

In Britain, the centre-right Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears to be the best performing of those American allies with a conservative government. Mr Johnson has realized what New Zealand realized several days ago, that only a complete shut down for several weeks is going to get the country through without a huge casualty list. But Mr Johnson’s move was not before substantial controversy erupted when it was announced that a policy of letting the virus spread and developing “herd immunity” was suggested. It would have meant letting the elderly citizens get ill and potentially die in huge numbers, whilst the survivors develop immunity.

POTENTIAL DEATHS: TENS OF THOUSANDS; ACTUAL DEATHS: 335

Of the countries with centre-right Opposition’s, perhaps we need to look no further than National right here in New Zealand. After weeks of attacking Ms Ardern’s leadership, National leader Simon Bridges has realized that attacking leadership that is drawing praise from both left and right, is not going to help his election chances. To his credit, but also for his survival, he has wisely decided to back the Government and show bi-partisanship support at a time when it is most needed.

The potential death toll for New Zealand is in the thousands. So far no New Zealanders have died.

*Brazil’s media and Government are known for not publishing accurate figures. Based on the size of the population and its poor health services, this is possibly a conservative guess on my part.


This is the first of two part series examining the response of conservative governments to the COVID19 pandemic. The second part will examine the response of socialist governments. The politicization of the pandemic world wide has seen a diverse range of responses arise. It is also in part a reaction to some of the commentary I am getting from friends in America at the moment about the failures of the Donald Trump administration.

In Brazil, despite statistical analysis of the known cases suggesting a massive upwards curve in numbers of people infected and potential deaths, President Jair Bolsanaro appears to be playing down COVID19. Brazil’s internal reaction has been slow compared to other countries, in light of how many countries now have cases. An estimated 2 million people could die in Brazil in the worst case scenario if adequate measures are not taken to protect people. Just on Monday Mr Bolsanaro again suggested COVID19 was some sort of trick.

POTENTIAL DEATHS: TENS OF THOUSANDS; ACTUAL DEATHS: 34*

In Australia, New South Wales and Victoria have gone into lock down without waiting for instruction from Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The Australian Government, so heavily criticized during the recent bush fire emergency has now come under further attack for lacking a co-ordination strategy. Schools have not closed and restaurants and cafes may continue to do takeaway’s. Nightclubs, casino’s and places of worship. The international borders closed in conjunction with New Zealand’s.

POTENTIAL DEATHS: THOUSANDS; ACTUAL DEATHS: 8

In India, where millions of people lack basic sanitation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government has shut the inter-state borders as well as India’s international borders. Restrictions on all but essential activities include a largely nation wide lock down until 31 March. Concern exists about the readiness of India’s health system for an influx of tens of millions of cases, of which 4-8 million may be severe. Testing has only been done on about 22,000 people.

POTENTIAL DEATHS: 500; ACTUAL DEATHS: 9

In the United States, despite a U.S.$1.2 trillion bill making its way through to Mr Trump’s desk, there is no clear strategy for a nation wide response, despite U.S. COVID19 cases sky rocketing. Some schools have closed, but some are still open. A couple of states are in lockdown, but a couple are not. Some businesses are closed, but many are not. No clear testing regime exists and many younger Americans seem to lack appreciation of the gravity of the situation. Some think that America might now face a similar trajectory to Italy, where thousands have died.

POTENTIAL DEATHS: 2.2 MILLION; ACTUAL DEATHS: 582

In Britain, the centre-right Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears to be the best performing of those American allies with a conservative government. Mr Johnson has realized what New Zealand realized several days ago, that only a complete shut down for several weeks is going to get the country through without a huge casualty list. But Mr Johnson’s move was not before substantial controversy erupted when it was announced that a policy of letting the virus spread and developing “herd immunity” was suggested. It would have meant letting the elderly citizens get ill and potentially die in huge numbers, whilst the survivors develop immunity.

POTENTIAL DEATHS: TENS OF THOUSANDS; ACTUAL DEATHS: 335

Of the countries with centre-right Opposition’s, perhaps we need to look no further than National right here in New Zealand. After weeks of attacking Ms Ardern’s leadership, National leader Simon Bridges has realized that attacking leadership that is drawing praise from both left and right, is not going to help his election chances. To his credit, but also for his survival, he has wisely decided to back the Government and show bi-partisanship support at a time when it is most needed.

The potential death toll for New Zealand is in the thousands. So far no New Zealanders have died.

*Brazil’s media and Government are known for not publishing accurate figures. Based on the size of the population and its poor health services, this is possibly a conservative guess on my part.

But what if Pakistan and India clash is NOT posturing?


Three days ago, I looked at the flaring Kashmir tensions between India and Pakistan. I examined the history of flare ups between the two nations and who other participants in any conflict might be. And at the end I concluded that the current flare up is posturing – albeit dangerous posturing – between the two nuclear armed rivals.

But let us for a few harrowing minutes stop and look at what this would be if it were not posturing, but the prelude to a full blown conflict that escalates into a nuclear exchange?

I will start by making a couple of assumptions. The first is that there will be a short albeit brutal period of conventional war using the naval, air and ground forces of the two sides. In this particular scenario I will also assume China, which has a passing interest in Kashmir as well because it backs onto the Chinese border stays out of it – albeit no doubt on its highest non-war level of alert.

So, we will assume that the conflict is not going well for Pakistan, which is out numbered in just about every category of conventional weapon – tanks, artillery, aircraft, warships, troops. In the first instance Pakistan, rather than firing a nuclear warhead straight at India, might conduct a nuclear test just to test the water and remind everyone of how serious this conflict could become. It might rock India a bit, but the biggest alarm will be everywhere else around the world and in particular their immediate neighbours.

As a precaution after that I imagine the diplomatic missions from various nations to both countries might start being withdrawn, with only a skeletal crew left behind for urgent diplomatic purposes. India might test missiles or conduct a nuclear test in response as a form of sabre rattling. Chaos would probably ensue as nationals from all nations scramble to get out of the country, overwhelming border crossings, airports and ports alike.

I do not believe that there will be a limited exchange between India and Pakistan if one happens. Once a nuclear warhead is irretrievably on its way to a target, the target nation will have only a matter of minutes to determine whether it is an accident or an actual act of war. Because any launch is not going to be an accident, it will be most probably construed as act of war. At that point massive, unrestrained retaliation is the only probable reaction. It is called Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D. – and a wholly appropriate acronym at that!).

But what is truly scary about India and Pakistan potentially having a nuclear exchange, is that neither country has the checks and balances that any of the United Nations Security Council P5 or Israel have. It is for example a 100% deliberate act to launch a U.S. missile. In some respects even North Korea is safer because any order would ever come from President Kim Jong Un, and only if it is obvious his regime is going to be toppled by force.

There would be no winners in a nuclear exchange, irrespective of whether 10 warheads or their entire arsenals were used.

The estimate done in 2002 that 7-12 million would die immediately would possibly not even cover the actual exchange, and certainly not the hundreds of millions that die in the weeks and months following from Acute Radiation Sickness. The size of the nuclear arsenals India and Pakistan possess now are both about 5-6 times larger at about 140-150 warheads each. It would not cover the fact that millions of tons of radioactive debris will be sucked up by explosions – especially those at ground level – and dispersed by wind patterns, that will eventually spread it around the world. There will be crop failure on a massive scale internationally and  So let us hope that this settles down quickly and some sense is seen between the two sides.

Thousands of kilometres away on the other side of the Equator, do not assume New Zealand would be spared. If it is not the immediate effects of radiation and nuclear explosions, it will be the massive economic, political, social, environmental fallout.

Probably no nation around the world would be entirely spared the consequences of such an exchange.

Stop and think about that.

 

India and Pakistan clash more about posturing


Every several years, India and Pakistan seem to face off over Kashmir, a disputed territory which both countries plus China claim some or all of. The disputes which are as old as the two nations in their modern state, are a time for nervousness among their neighbours. But is it really justified?

Countries with large populations of Indians and Pakistani’s such as Britain, which until 1947 was the colonial power in control of India and Pakistan, might have a few nerves over the escalation of tension between the two rivals. India and Pakistan have had three major wars, as well as significant periods of increased tension, such as this one. If one or the other inflicts large casualties British authorities would have to consider the possibility of violence between Indian and Pakistani nationals.

India’s ruling BJP Party consists of hardline Hindu’s including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr Modi has done little during his time to ease tensions with his country’s largely Muslim neighbour, and claims Pakistan is an exporter of terrorism. For Pakistan’s part, a combination of foreign interference, Islamic militants, local corruption and an abiding distrust of its neighbours means Pakistan’s best efforts to change the international mindset are often found wanting.

A common flash point between India and Pakistan is Kashmir. It has been disputed since the partition of 1947. Many of the significant periods of tension referred to earlier have sprung up over Kashmir, which is heavily militarized and has a fortified border fence that India constructed. In 2002 a spat similar to the current one flared up over Kashmir, with 500,000 troops amassing in anticipation of a conflict in the region. After that, the C.I.A. did an analysis on the cost of a potential nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan – it would devastate the entire region, have world wide environmental, social and economic consequences and eventually lead to the loss of several hundred million people through the consequences of the nuclear fall out.

New Zealand has a large number of Indians living here, and a significantly smaller number of Pakistani’s. Aside from sporting ties vis a vis cricket and hockey, both are also members of the British Commonwealth. In taxi’s where the driver is from India or Pakistan, I have regularly heard them indicate their displeasure with the other country. Facebook articles regarding relations between the two nationalities have often shown a degree of anger directed at one another.

Despite the tensions and the mistrust, I do not believe that this is anything more serious than posturing. Neither India or Pakistan can afford the cost of a conventional conflict between the two with the large casualty lists and huge economic damage that this would generate. Neither will want this to escalate because although India numerically out numbers Pakistan in just about all categories of military equipment, Pakistan has been receiving significant support from China which is viewed by India as a potential rival for dominance in South Asia.

It will be interesting to see how this dispute plays out. India and Pakistan might be rivals off the cricket pitch – they are also rivals on it, and any match between the two is watched with significant interest around the world. With the Cricket World Cup happening in England in May, many will see this as a chance for one side or the other to try to assert a non military dominance.

Far better it be on a cricket pitch or hockey turf than in Kashmir. Far better it be cricket balls and bats than bullets and missiles.