Without Firing A Shot

Without Firing A Shot

By

Leonard Zwelling

         For many years, the United States prepared for nuclear war.
Once the Russians acquired a nuclear device the arms race was on and mutually
assured destruction of the type immortalized in Dr. Strangelove came into play. If the United States was
vulnerable, if our way of life could be challenged, it would be through nuclear
aggression. Duck and cover drills were routine when I was in grammar school.
Then, things changed.

         Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of
international terrorism, the threat to America looked like it was coming from
the Middle East and Muslim Extremism. That’s still a threat and one made worse
by our embargo against Iran and now an even nastier trade war against the
Chinese. None of this is necessary, of course, but under Donald Trump our
relationships with most of the rest of the world have deteriorated and China
has become a real threat to us as China seems to be exporting all things to us
that we need (raw materials, electronics, and pharmaceuticals) while holding a
lot of our debt. Now they have really exported a beauty that we didn’t need—coronavirus.
Holy pangolin, batman!

More
than any threat since the Cuban Missile Crisis and 9/11, America is really
vulnerable. Our way of life has been disrupted in a fashion not seen since the
Great Depression and there seems to be no end in sight for successful
mitigation will stretch out the period that the disease will be with us, not
lessen the number of cases. This is to enable our healthcare facilities to handle
the surge in cases—if that surge occurs. Right now the best estimates of American
deaths are about 60-200,000, a terrible flu year, but this is, of course, on
top of the flu. But how many people died from the economic shutdown and the
absence of vital medical functions in the rush to treat corona victims?

         Today, Tuesday, March 31, I learned of yet another effect of
the coronavirus. It has really messed with banking. I discovered two new
fraudulent checks appearing in our on-line checking account and needed to get
to the bottom of the fraud and correct the entries. I called my “Private
Banker” at Chase. She’s on maternity leave until May. You have to press zero
and be transferred to Chase’s Private Client Service. The wait for a person was
in excess of thirty minutes. I waited.

         The Private Client Banker got on the line finally and
informed me that she could not deal with fraud, but that I had to talk to the
fraud line which would be another thirty minute wait and this was all before
the federal money to small businesses got released to be distributed by these
banks in ways not entirely made clear. About halfway through my wait a message
flashed on the phone that they were taking no more calls. Their ability to
handle customers had been exceeded. And that was that.

         I am going to keep trying to get through, but I have no
illusions that this will be easy or successful. Chase is not known for its
customer service on the phone and the only reason I still bank with them is the
private banker in Bellaire who is on maternity leave now.

         Unless I have missed something, I would say that the Chinese
have brought us to our knees without firing a shot. Mr. Trump needs to think
long and hard about why he wasn’t ready for this offensive weapon from the Far
East. Maybe China meant to disrupt us, maybe not. Regardless, China seems to be
back up and running and the rest of the world is reeling from the virus that
putatively emanated from a seafood market in Wuhan, having its origins in bats
and pangolins. Putatively.

         Just say for me, this was a warning lesson to the entire
country. The U.S. and its way of life are susceptible to an enemy so small it
cannot be seen and yet so readily weaponized. Is this all paranoia? It’s too
soon to tell, but it scares the hell of out of me that the country was so
ill-prepared despite warnings of such a plague for years—from infectious
disease experts and from Hollywood. Meanwhile, the hackers take advantage like
the hyena scavengers they are.

         Dystopia may have crept in on little bats feet. Or it may
have been the latest Chinese export in the trade war with America.

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