At the beginning of 2022, it seemed that America’s enemies were ascendant. Russia was threatening Ukraine and clearly didn’t care if the West objected. And China’s economic growth seemed unaffected by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, America and the West were powerless in the face of Putin’s implacable resolve and a Chinese economy barely affected by the supply chain woes affecting the West.
We’re now more than a quarter into 2022 and the script has been flipped. The Russian army is bogged down in a war of attrition with Ukraine — a far cry from the well-oiled war machine we saw in Georgia, Crimea, and Syria in recent years.
And China has finally succumbed to its own hubris about its “competence” in handling the pandemic as the most draconian lockdowns any nation ever attempted on its own people have seen hundreds of millions of desperate, hungry people cry out as one for help.
But the latest wave of Covid cases — and the CCP’s response — should put paid to any idea of the superiority of China’s response. A hardline Covid strategy and the regime’s refusal to offer the Chinese people a Western-made and effective vaccine have combined with the prevalence of highly transmissible forms of the virus to eradicate any kind of propaganda victory that Xi Jinping may have been able to claim from the pandemic.
With hundreds of millions trapped at home in inhumane lockdowns imposed across China and case numbers surging, the pandemic script has been flipped. China’s useful idiots in the West have gone quiet. As have those on the left and the right who have spent most of the pandemic marveling at China’s “state capacity.” That footage of a dance music festival in Wuhan a year or so after the city was in full-scale lockdown feels like a relic of a previous era. As do op-eds in American newspapers, like this 2021 effort by the New York Times’s Li Yuan, in which it was claimed that China’s public health totalitarianism was offering its people its own version of freedom.
The despair of ordinary Chinese citizens in Shanghai is hard to witness. People were screaming out of windows begging for food, begging to be allowed to go outside. Some people became so distraught they flung themselves to their own death from the high-rise balconies.
The Chinese Communists tried to censor the stories and images, but many of them reached the West via social media anyway. And while most of us knew that things were generally worse in China during the initial stages of the pandemic than anywhere in the West and that China’s death toll was far higher than the “official” count, there were still a few Americans who looked enviously at China, whose economy was roaring ahead despite the pandemic.
True, China’s economy is doing well, but at what cost? China is now wedded to a policy that guarantees more lockdowns, more inhuman enforcement of virus mitigation measures, more hunger, more despair, and more evidence of the incompetence of its national leaders.
Meanwhile, 53 days into the war and Russia finally appears on the verge of capturing the important city of Mariupol. The Ukrainian government estimates that between 50,000 and 120,000 citizens are still trapped in the city — a city that for all intents and purposes has been utterly destroyed.
“No one knows how many people died among the civilian population,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on CNN. “Hundreds of thousands were evacuated. Several thousand, tens of thousands, were forced to evacuate in the direction of the Russian Federation. And we do not know where they are.”
“About 5,000 children deported from this region to Russian side, because they didn’t allow them to go to … the Ukrainian-controlled side,” said Zelensky. “So, we don’t know what — the children, where are they? Nobody knows.”
From the beginning of the war on Feb. 24, Russia has thrown a considerable amount of men and material at the city and has been repeatedly and decisively repulsed. The supposed “invincibility” of the Russian army has been exposed as a dramatic overestimation. In fact, the Russian army’s previous efforts were against inferior opposition, including the Ukrainian army of 2014, which has improved enormously.
In front of Kyiv and across the country, Russian forces have proven to be inadequate to the task of defeating an army of vastly inferior numbers. It’s been an eye-opener for Western military analysts who now see Russia as far less threatening than they did before the invasion.
And China’s exposure as an inhuman, monstrous regime has undone all the propaganda the Communists put out telling the world that their version of “freedom” was far better than the West’s.