by James Corbett
March 21, 2020
Here’s a question for you: How do you know when you’re at war?
When there are troops on the streets? When mass panic hits? When there’s martial law and the public is told to batten down the hatches for a months-long or years-long siege? When world “leaders” tell their populations that the enemy is to blame for all the carnage?
If these are the criteria, then that means we’re at war right now.
Troops on the streets? Check.
Mass panic? Check.
Yes, by all of those metrics, we’re at war. But no one is calling it war. Why not? Because, in the minds of the public, there really is only one metric for judging our war status: Whether troops are in the battlefield shooting at each other or not. Surely that’s war, right?
But then, why is Merkel invoking World War II in her attempt to explain the current crisis to the German people? Why are we being told that the times we are living through are worse than war? Why is misleader after misleader, from Trump to Trudeau to seemingly everyone else, invoking old war time emergency measures and preparing for full-scale martial law?
Still not enough to convince you that the world is now at war? Well then why did Donald Trump declare war on coronavirus and anoint himself a “war-time president“? Why did Macron look steely-eyed into the cameras and pronounce “nous sommes en guerre“? Why are Boris Johnson, Moon Jae-in, and seemingly every other so-called “leader” in the world piling on in their declarations of war?
The truth is that the world is at war now. And that war is World War III. The difference is that no one (as yet) understands the nature of this war, who its combatants are, and what the objective of those waging it really is.
I know you’re incredulous, so allow me to explain.
For decades now, the war metaphor has been used by politicians to drum up support for their policy proposals. Whenever a US President declares war on an abstract noun—Johnson’s “war on poverty,” for example, or Nixon’s “war on drugs,” or Bush’s “war on terror”—we know what to expect: Billions of dollars will be spent, government bureaucracy will increase, the rights of the average citizen will decrease, and, oh yeah, the thing being warred against will actually gain in strength.
But this “war on coronavirus” is different. It may very well end up being the first battle in what historians of a future era will call World War III.
And just as World War I—with its machine guns and no man’s land and unimaginable casualties—was utterly unlike any war that anyone had seen before, and just as World War II—with its blitzkriegs and atomic bombs and targeting of civilians—was unlike any war that anyone had seen before, so, too, is World War III going to be utterly unlike any war that anyone has seen before.
This time around, the world war is taking the form of a hybrid war. “Hybrid warfare” is a term that has come into vogue among military strategists in recent decades to describe a type of irregular warfare that combines conventional warfare (guns and bombs on battlefields) with a number of other methods of attack: cyberwarfare, disinformation operations, political destabilization campaigns, lawfare and basically anything else that can undermine or destabilize an enemy during times of conflict.
At a first order of analysis, it wouldn’t be difficult to characterize the current relations between the US and China as hybrid warfare. In fact, this is exactly what the always-perceptive Pepe Escobar does in his analysis of the latest moves on the geopolitical chessboard, “China Locked in Hybrid War with US.” As Escobar notes:
Among the myriad, earth-shattering geopolitical effects of coronavirus, one is already graphically evident. China has re-positioned itself. For the first time since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in 1978, Beijing openly regards the US as a threat, as stated a month ago by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference during the peak of the fight against coronavirus. Beijing is carefully, incrementally shaping the narrative that, from the beginning of the coronovirus attack, the leadership knew it was under a hybrid war attack. Xi’s terminology is a major clue. He said, on the record, that this was war. And, as a counter-attack, a ‘people’s war’ had to be launched.
Escobar goes on to point out that Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian’s recent (and very public) insinuation that it was the “US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan” represents not just a breach of diplomatic protocol, but the language of a belligerent in a time of war. Given the incredibly large question marks surrounding every aspect of this current pandemic, the suggestion that the novel coronavirus is actually from Fort Detrick is hardly outlandish. But keep in mind that it’s not some online conspiracy realist giving credence to this idea, it’s an actual representative of the Chinese government. This is not an accusation that is made lightly.
But this isn’t just one-sided finger pointing by China. At the same time that Chinese government spokesmen are raising the specter that coronavirus is Made in the USA™, the Trump administration is going out of its way to rebrand SARS-Cov-2 as “the Chinese virus.” Petty as it may seem, these semantics matter. As anyone who has spent any time online in the last few weeks has noticed, the fluoride-addled, MSM-addicted portion of the American public has been energized by this anti-Chinese rhetoric. The Chinese have replaced the Russians as the bogeyman du jour in the minds of the easily spooked normies.
Escobar concludes his report by forwarding the possibility that this entire coronavirus crisis is a “massive psy-op creating the perfect geopolitical and social engineering environment for full-spectrum dominance.” The pressing question, he contends, is: “[W]ill imperial elites still choose to keep waging full-spectrum-dominance hybrid war against China” when this is all over?
Given the broader context of the American-Chinese conflict that—as I have repeatedly contended—is being set up to be the defining struggle of the 21st century, Escobar’s analysis is plausible enough.
However, as I have also repeatedly contended, this century-defining Great Powers struggle between China and the US is (just like the Cold War of the 20th century) a stage-managed, manipulated and, ultimately, phony conflict. The real battle is not going to be between “China” and “the US” (as if these are monolithic entities making decisions on the behalf of billions of people). No, the real battle is going to be between the would-be societal engineers and the mass of humanity.
If this hybrid war truly is World War III, then we have to make a very basic determination: Who are the combatants, and what are they fighting for? This is the easiest thing to determine in any war, isn’t it? Just look which way the troops are pointing their guns and you will find who their enemy is, right?
So, let’s take a look.
Cyberwarfare operations are being waged right now to knock out enemy communication systems and to label all enemy transmissions as “disinformation.” But who is being targeted in all of this? Citizen journalists and conspiracy realists.
Political destabilization campaigns are being waged . . . but the attackers are the Democratic Party (caught rigging their own primaries) and the establishment press (trying to undermine political decisions made by referenda) and the academic establishment (rallying opposition against democratically (s)elected governments in the supposedly “free” world).
And whereas just a few months ago, protests and demonstrations were so pervasive all around the globe that I dedicated an entire column to the phenomenon, now country after country is declaring gatherings of more than 10 people to be illegal.
Time and time again, we find that the war that is being waged is a war by government, military, financial and corporate power against the masses of humanity that would oppose them.
This is the true nature of World War III. It is being waged right now. And, in the eyes of the authoritarians, we are the enemy.
Oh, sure, there are the 2D chess manifestations of this war—the geopolitical wrangling and the nation-state saber-rattling that are playing out at the same time. But those are just diversionary battles designed to distract us from the main event: The battle against free humanity.
This is why the Chinese model—one of complete, all-pervasive Big Brother surveillance and technocratic lockdown of society—is denounced by the “leaders” of the “free world” at the same time as they openly yearn to implement and enforce those same powers at home.
Yes, folks, whether you know it or not, World War III has already begun. And in the eyes of those waging that war, we are the enemy. The only question that matters is: Will we wake up to this fact in time to fight back, or will we lay down and let the authoritarians beat us?