Last night’s Probaway ended with, “The Chinese economy is now as fit as ever and the economy of the rest of the world is in chaos, and will soon be in shambles. China has been doing extremely well economically for a couple of decades now and will now surge ahead explosively because of the Covid pandemic.
Americans of my age cohort had a wonderful ride and will fade away with a glow, but my Probaway Person of the Year 2016 will be known historically not only as the founder of a new Chinese dynasty but as the founder of a new world order.
The twentieth century was America’s, the twenty-first century is already China’s.”
What struck me was the fact that the American Century began precisely with the advent of the Great Influenza of 1918-1920. The U.S. was just becoming a major power in the world; it was on a near par with the then-contending European powers, and entered quite late into WWI, and was just in the processes of transferring vast numbers of Doughboys over to Europe.
In the middle of a very long Wikipedia article on WWI, there is the paragraph:
“In November 1918, the Allies had ample supplies of men and materiel to invade Germany. Yet at the time of the armistice, no Allied force had crossed the German frontier, the Western Front was still some 720 kilometres (450 mi) from Berlin, and the Kaiser’s armies had retreated from the battlefield in good order. These factors enabled Hindenburg and other senior German leaders to spread the story that their armies had not really been defeated. This resulted in the stab-in-the-back legend, which attributed Germany’s defeat not to its inability to continue fighting (even though up to a million soldiers were suffering from the 1918 flu pandemic and unfit to fight), but to the public’s failure to respond to its “patriotic calling” and the supposed intentional sabotage of the war effort, particularly by Jews, Socialists, and Bolsheviks.”
What interests me about this paragraph is the line I bolded stating that a million of the German soldiers had the flu and were unable to fight. That flu was shortly after German had just defeated Russia and was transferring much of this additional army available to them against France, England, and the recently arriving U.S. armed forces.
“In December, (1917) the Central Powers signed an armistice with Russia, thus freeing large numbers of German troops for use in the west. With German reinforcements and new American troops pouring in, the outcome was to be decided on the Western Front.”
When the Great Flu fell upon them the Germans felt they were undefeated and were only agreeing to an armistice, and their armies retreated to their homeland and their homes peacefully. They had been falling back and clearly losing ground, and they couldn’t defend what they had taken with earlier battles. But I contend the reason they were failing is that their entire military and economy were suffering from the deadly 1918 flu pandemic. They lost essential supplies because they couldn’t defend the supply lines to the sources.
The US gained greater relative military strength because of WWI and received economic reparations too, which helped them to build a dominant navy. These things at the time seemed important but as WWII came into being they proved decisive and by the end of 1945 the US, with its newly acquired atom bomb capabilities, became the preeminent power. It became the Super Power. Thus, in retrospect, the United States became into its power on Armistice of 11 November 1918. Which I assert was brought about by the 1918 flu pandemic.
A similar situation exists now with the current Covid pandemic bringing the United States and the whole world into economic chaos, except for China. China is now totally in control of their Covid problem and is in a position to become the obvious preeminent economic power in the world.
China is at the moment a peaceful power, and so long as the US has the navy to keep the High Seas of the world safe for commerce, it will retain the status of the military power of the world. But that navy costs a lot of American money, and China is making lots of money because of the low cost of its world trade crossing those seas. With the world in chaos, China will thrive even better. China has the wisdom of long foresight whereas the US is still locked into its quarterly profits reports and has lost the strategic economic war, and Europe is reveling in its glorious history and tourism. Until Covid struck, tourism was Europeans’ free bounty and now what will Europe do to compete on the world stage?
The American century began with the Great Flu pandemic of 1918-1920 and ended with the Covid pandemic of 2020.