DR. IBRAHIM ALLADIN

Two world wars shook Europe but eventually it emerged as a power. In 2020, with all its technological and medical advances, a virus has brought a big chunk of Europe down. The might of colonial powers like England and France looks fragile. The Covid-19 or novel coronavirus which started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, is now ravaging the world, and Europe is taking the brunt. What could this be attributed to?

In short. Pride. Arrogance. Lack of coordination. Distrust. After more than 20,000 deaths and counting, Covid-19 has brought Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland and England to their knees, with the United States across the Atlantic following closely. Europe is the epicentre of the virus. Take a look at Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump, and how they have been handling the novel coronavirus. A few months ago, they were among the most powerful men. Today they seem lost. What do they have in common? Poor leadership. Good leaders do not sit on the fence, they made decisions, and they are sharp and decisive with conviction. Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Anwar Sadat and Indira Gandhi, to name a few, stand out for their ability to turn things around when the odds were against them. They led their nations and made decisions which are written in history.

Medical supplies

In December 2019, when the coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China set the scene for others to follow. Without hesitation the Chinese leadership locked an entire city, with millions, and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of people. The lockdown was planned, calculated and carried with discipline and intent. When the virus started to spread and scientists realized that a vaccine was not round the corner, England and France played the waiting game. The writings were on the wall, they ignored the signals and thought they could control the spread better than China. Many years of cutbacks and mismanagement of the NHS in England had crippled the health system, which was once a model envied by other nations. France paid lip service to its own health professionals and Macron was overconfident he could turn things around. Johnson and Macron failed to see the power of the novel coronavirus. Italy and Spain raised the alarm which they ignored. Both will have a lot to answer for as the death toll rises.

Today, questions are being asked what happened in England, France and Switzerland. Johnson thought he had won the Brexit fight and he could also win over the novel coronavirus. When France ran out of masks and testing equipment, the population was stunned. Its advanced medical system, was unable to cope with the spread. The battle became pronounced. England and France are fighting an uphill battle, victory is not even close. Italy

and Spain are human tragedies. Germany acted promptly and swiftly, but still battling. Switzerland is also looking for answers. The powers of Europe has turned to China. China which seemed crippled only a few weeks ago, is now the saviour, sending medical supplies and other know-how to countries like France and Italy. China is back in the game, the rest of the world seems to be at the mercy of the Chinese. Is this the rise of Chinese dominance which the west tried to curtail and failed?

Poor leadership and a Eurocentric approach

Back in New York. Donald Trump said a few weeks ago the American economy will be back on its feet very soon. It does not look likely. With more than 47,000 positive cases of the novel coronavirus, New York City is now under quarantine. For both Donald Trump and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, such a thought would have “preposterous” and “anti-American”. They didn’t want to see New York turning into a Wuhan. Pride won’t save lives. A responsible response will. With rising unemployment, the American economy is taking a downward slide. A global recession is already visible. The American pride which Trump has been riding on, is not going to save America. He should have acted weeks ago and imposed a curfew. Trump ignored what was happening in California. The worse has yet to come. The virus has infiltrated into American pride. America may have to turn to China for help. Trump’s slogan “Make America great again” may not sound that palatable at the moment. It is bitter pill to swallow, China has already extended its arm. When Trump spoke to the Chinese leader on the phone, it seemed like an act of desperation. A new world economic order could be in the making with the Asian giant leading the race.

Trump’s “U-turn” and Boris Johnson’s crisis speech is a plea for help. Macron is waiting for shipment from China, the pride of the French people is touched. They are desperate. Johnson himself, who tested positive, may be regretting for his delaying tactic. Why did he not act weeks ago? The NHS in England warned of the shortcomings, just like doctors warned Macron. Poor leadership and a Eurocentric approach will cost very dearly. The death toll will mount, the economies are taking a slide and a population caught in a catastrophe. The human suffering will continue for long time. Reconstruction from the novel coronavirus will take years. The fallout is already painful. Europe’s back is broken. Help from across the Atlantic is not likely. Will the European Union be next on the hit list? Time will tell. There is not much talk of a united European response at the moment, each nation is fighting for its own survival. The rich and powerful nations look so fragile. The world is seeing red.

April 2, 202