“ Democratic armies cannot win wars without popular support and a national consensus behind them. But conflict crisis could now arise faster before any consensus could be formed for a democratic set-up to respond……“ Alvin Toffler & Heidi Toffler in “ War and Anti- War”
Global crisis of Corona (Wuhan) Virus of 2019-2020 proves as to how prophetic were the authors of the book, “ War And Anti War” , published in 1993. Health care and economic blood bath has occured not only in USA and EU but in the entire world, bringing out the basic flaws of democracies to cope-up with crisis created by an invisible enemy. This enemy has been attacking them for months but they fiddled, like proverbial Nero, while Rome was burning . It is also not that such a warfare was not known earlier, surrounded forts being infected by horse flu blankets, contaminating clandestinely food being supplied to fighting forces, or exporting weed infected wheat are all existential examples of Biological Warfare (BW) albeit submerged in pages of history.
China on the other hand learned faster and the world now is grappling with the Wuhan Virus -2019. Chinese Generals Kia Liang & Wong Shang Zu realised the asymmetry between China and USA in a ‘Brute War’ and penned in 1999 their book ‘Unrestricted Warfare’. The present scenario unfolding has put China in the pole position of the economic world through quick use of clandestinely created crisis by BW and is the case in introspection. Five Chinese banks are now in the Top Fortune 500 list with ‘Chase” the only American Bank, in sixth position. All this turmoil occurred in the last decade or so as till now the top five banks in the world were American since ages.
As enumerated in “Unrestricted Warfare” It is now slowly but surely emerging that the spread of the Wuhan Virus might not be a natural-bat generated mutant virus phenomenon. Accusing fingers are being raised both at China and USA , the contesting World Powers. There are clandestine claims of a tussle between CIA and the Chinese agencies for acquiring a new chinese BW strain created in Wuhan, which led to a shoot out in Wuhan Market over the bribed exchange of the BW strain vial produced by China and in the process of being sold to USA. The tussle led to the accidental release of the strain and initially put China on the back foot but slowly and surely China tightened up its act and is emerging as the ghost perpetrator and beneficiary of its Anti War Theory and using it fully to its advantage. The Chinese Industry after a initial hiccup is back into production mode mainly from Beijing and Shanghai. What was once a shortage in terms of masks and respirators are now being exported, though at times sub standard . Italy has returned its first consignment. The BMWs, the Teslas ,the Foxcon’s are all revetting up production with Chinese Government help and its own industry is not only back in shape but is on piggy back. Companies like Don Polymer producing bio protection equipment is quoting at 450% more in the bourses. Chinese spree for acquiring distressed assets world wide are also now a global phenomenon. So much so that Australia has set up a trade/ property barrier to thwart Chinese attempt to acquire assets in the continent. China in other words has used its unrestricted warfare theory to first export a curse and is now is in a position to apply balm to the world literally on its knees.
Though It is presently immaterial, as to who developed it . The very fact, as is obvious, is that such a dangerous but varied application of a bio agent has created unprecedented crisis with the confirmed cases crossing over 5 Lac worldwide as in end March 2020 besides engulfing all disciplines – social , political , economical , health care and military .
Effect of Corona- Wuhan Virus (WV) as a (BW) Biological Weapon gone awry has been there for more than three months and China has kept the news of not only its initiation but also its spread under wraps . It is also alleged in one theory that Wuhan Virus might have been deliberately leaked , in a controlled manner and tested secretly for its efficacy . It is also a known fact that Wuhan City has a large Biological Laboratory and China might have decided to test its efficacy in Wuhan itself. Some reports are there of its first test on Ughur muslim population and Wuhan was its confirmatory trial. Such a suspicion is not unfounded. If one analyses, the spread of Corona in the Hubei province of China was kept confined to the Wuhan City mainly, boasting of over 11 million population . Also to note is that it surprisingly did not spread as wide and as fast in the rest of China, as it did in the rest of the world. It should also be noted that Corona Virus travelled the entire world from Wuhan but it did not effectively reach Beijing and Shanghai with barely 8 and 5 fatalities respectively only till date. Beijing with a population of 25 Million and Shanghai with a population of 24 million are the economic centres of China and were left relatively unscathed. This appears a little erie and too comfortable from China’s point of view as conversely the spread towards Hong Kong was uncontrolled. Hong kong was incidentally seeing an upsurge in anti China feelings which has since subsided. Though, in a muted manner, China does blame USA for bringing it to Wuhan City during the World Military Games held there in October 2019. Some 300 US soldiers had participated in the games . But it is unauthenticated and remains a wild conjecture.
All said and done, accusing fingers are being firmly raised towards China. It is now certain that exponential spread through community transmission of the virus was known to China and that is why it enforced total lock down of Wuhan in particular and Hubei province in general. Assumption is that China had pre-known the virus and its remedy and this is becoming a stronger surmise with time. Besides, it was not only in a position to control its spread, but also effectively treat it. China claims to have used mix of Anti- Malaria Drug (Chloroquine) to treat it . Thats why out of around 81,000 infected patients , over 69,000/- recovered . Reportedly only about 3200 – deaths, that too of majority old citizens took place, which is relatively small for a nation of 150 Crores unless figures are purposely hidden. These accusations are thus not unsubstantiated.
It is also interesting to note WV’s exponential spread, world wide was via community transmission, conjectured to be purposely fanned by China. The effect on its main adversary USA is now extreme. What is more lethal is that Wuhan Virus’s incubation period is of 14 days . It further cements the fact that China knew about its incubation period and adopted harsh measures immediately to protect its economic districts but let it spread elsewhere world wide. While China contained spread through lock down , incubation helped it spread fast through ‘Chinese Carriers’ to various countries in the end season holiday travel, mainly from Hong Kong. It is also known that the infected persons roamed freely amongst their acquaintances, they interacted with wide range of people and the spread was thus transmitted to potential patients through a mere touch by an infected person in hundreds, multiplying exponentially. The virus mainly attacked infirm people with poor immunity. Those above 55 years were considered its main victims . To say the least , Wuhan Virus may be the tip of the iceberg. Much more dangerous viruses might be under development in various biological laboratories of China, USA and other belligerent nations competing for supremacy in the world . Reports are there of virile viruses strains dispensed from Satellite / Drone/ Helicopters sparking immediate mental retardation in humans in the target area..
What are the military implications of such bio- weapons ? Its use in military / economic conflicts has always been a game changer . First impression is that it is more dangerous than the nuclear weapons as it is silent and the source is literally untraceable.. Precisely speaking , BW turns national conflicts upside down . Wars thereafter graduate from “Indirect mode” to “ Invisible Mode” . In other words “Brute Force wars” of 19th and 20th centuries are now giving way to “Brain Force Wars” with acutely infectious bio agents. It is important to understand that warfare as defined by Clausewitz has undergone tremendous changes . He had rightly observed that war in every period / phase has its own doctrine and weapons . War making strategies and methods keep evolving as weapons system evolve themselves . It is important to grasp that no nation can afford to fight a future war on yesterday’s template and weapons .
Wars and war strategies have evolved themselves from direct to indirect approach over the known history of human conflicts . Both direct and indirect approaches believed in the use of “ Brute Force” , whether it was massed human assaults or concentrated punch of armoured formation or even massive gun / missile fire. Use of tanks , air attacks , nuclear strikes all were “Brute Force Multiplies” . Brawn or the Brute Force , in the form of massive numbers of human soldiers , tanks , guns , aircrafts , ships, destroyers and even nukes, was often touted as agents of victory . Then came smart weapons and smart soldiers in the form of Drones and RPVs – heralding an era of Smart Wars. Manpower Heavy Army of Iraq fell like nine pins in matters of 100 hours in second Gulf war . Thereafter weight shifted to “Semi – invisible wars” like Proxy wars by Irregular Soldiers (Terrorists and Insurgents ) . It gave tough time to even the most powerful and well equipped army of USA . And now we are slowly getting into wars in Invisible Mode .
After the Soviet Union occupation of Afghanistan in 1979 , direct approach gave way to indirect approach, due to deadly lethality of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destructions) . Nuclear weapons shifted the weight to WOM “War by Other Means” . Terrorists and Insurgents were used as “ Irregular Soldiers “ . However, it is during the Afghan war only that era of EIA (Extreme Indirect Approach) emerged . Smart weapons and smart soldiers took on the “ Irregular Soldiers” . Drones and Missiles began to rule the roost . Technology driven weapons became a matter of pride for most armies . Second Gulf war proved that in the new military conflicts, quality mattered over quantity . Still , it was the “ Brute Force” which realised the outcome of a military conflict . But over the last year and a half , military conflicts or war making is shifting from “Indirect” to “Invisible” approach, though its precursor was attack on the World Trade Towers in 2001. We saw its refined versions in 2019, when Saudi Oil fields were attacked by unknown missiles , though USA claims they were Iran’s. Anyway, anti – Missile System, the Patriot of USA could not detect or defend it. Same happened, when in 2019, Iran fired two missiles on US bases in Iraq. USA shied away from further escalation .
This must have given the idea to China and perhaps some others, of how to defeat technologically and militarily superior USA and West . Corona-Wuhan is the product of this invisible approach . Alvin Toffler rightly observes in his “War and Anti war” that US army has to change its orientation from “Space” towards “Time”. This was way back in 1993 . They have still not moved with time . This is the bane of all democratic armies . Wars are no more for gaining hard assets or territorial gains through “Brute Force” by using direct or indirect approaches. The war in 21st century seeks total annihilation of your enemy by adopting “invisible” approach . Wuhan Virus-2019 perhaps is the Chinese answer to the ‘Trade War’ launched by USA on China .(That USA – CIA traced the bio agent production and was clandestinely trying to acquire secrets is another matter). It also corroborates the Chinese YIN- YANG theory – within strength lay weakness and within weakness lay strength. It is furtherance of this doctrine of “ Unrestricted Warfare” that China has been espousing for over two decades now. No apparent FRONTS & No REARS . War is no more an appendage of Brute Force like Nukes or deadly missiles and drones – it is now going to be in the grip of silent weapons, like WV or other such more lethal CW or BW agents.
Corona might be a primitive bio weapon – as reports emerge of viruses that can pierce your locked doors and houses in a given geographical area . Such customised designer wars are likely to dominate the globe in the near future . Wuhan Virus is proving to be a game changer of all polemics . Such customised wars do not need soldiers , both regular or irregular, prancing around across the borders in their fancy armoured vehicles or air ships . Artillery guns cannot counter these invisible weapons nor can air bombardment destroy them . Aircraft Carriers, Super Aircrafts and Helicopters with deadly weaponry would become dysfunctional when bio-weapon hits them . They would be a flotilla of dead bodies once infected.
Such customised but invisible wars would demand , an array of customised soldiers , such as doctors , health care workers, microbiologists, research laboratories workers, medicine retailers, media and information warriors , panic controller and disaster management experts. It is not to say that soldiers in Olive Green would become redundant . But they have reduced roles in such wars . Emergence of Bio -Weapons would render erstwhile instruments of waging war as “reduced efficacy asset ”. Any further investment in these would prove futile as all human operated machines and weapons would become fatalities in BW . Investment should now be more on biological research laboratories, health care, medicines and information analysts. Defence expenditure must give priorities to LASER , MISSILES, DRONES and SATELLITES in the intermediate period . In times to come, space would become the launching pad of such invisible weapons . Satellite launch pads will shoot / infect viruses over a selected geographical area. Laser bursts too would play important role in countering adversaries .
Invisibility of the future weapons is not only inevitable but it will make a paradigm shift in the way enemy and allies would be determined . Democracies viz Socialists(totalitarians) would always be handicapped & groping in the dark to make appropriate choices .
In conclusion, one would say that military strategy and needed weaponry to conduct war normally flows out of political and economic objectives. But there is a difference here. While democratic nations work out their military strategies for political and economic objectives, based on available technology, the totalitarian nations first work out military strategy and then develop technology to suit the strategy. China, taking into considerations, its handicaps and compulsions, has evolved an “ Invisible Approach”, laced with “ Invisible Weapons “. Corona- Wuhan virus is a fore- runner of the silent killer nemesis. Democratic world would have to understand this and catch up to survive and surpass. To quote Alvin Toffler, “ If war was ever too important to be left only to Generals, it is now far too important for it to be left only to the ignorant — whether in or out of uniform”. More than military leaders , political , economic and social leaders have to grasp the nuances of “ Invisible Wars”.
The author is retired Brigadier from Indian Army
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