US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The coronavirus pandemic shocked the very foundation of the universe, leading to numerous consequences that will affect many more years. In an interview with Foreign Policy, 12 leading world experts said what the world would expect after defeating a pandemic.
According to them, the pandemic will not only lead to an actual stoppage of globalization, a decline in US leadership on the world stage, an increase in nationalist sentiment and a shift towards a China-centric model, but also to the creation of a more sustainable global economic and health system.
As in the case of the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the coronavirus pandemic shook the very foundation of the universe, leading to numerous consequences that we are only beginning to realize. However, one thing is certain: coronavirus not only changed lives, brought chaos to the market and showed the real level of competence (or lack thereof) of governments, but also in the future will lead to tectonic shifts on the world stage.
To understand the direction of this movement, Foreign Policy interviewed 12 leading thinkers from around the world who voiced their predictions for the world order after the pandemic.
The world will become less open, prosperous and free.
( Stephen Walt, Professor of International Relations at Harvard University)
A pandemic will strengthen states and strengthen nationalist sentiment. All types of governments will take urgent measures to combat the crisis, and many will not want to part with new powers to end the crisis.
In addition, COVID-19 will accelerate the transition of power and influence from West to East. South Korea and Singapore reacted exemplarily to coronavirus, while China made mistakes only in the early stages. The response to the pandemic in Europe and America in comparison with them turned out to be slow and ill-conceived, which further blurred the brilliant aura of the Western “brand”.
What will not change is the conflicting essence of world politics. Previous pestilences did not become the prologue of a new era of global cooperation. Coronavirus is no exception. According to the professor, we will witness a further departure from hyperglobalization, as citizens seek protection, first of all, from national governments.
“In short, COVID-19 will lead to a less open, less prosperous, and less free world. This outcome was not intended, but the combination of the deadly virus, inadequate planning and incompetent management pushed humanity on a new and alarming path,” Walt summed up.
The end of globalization as we know it
(Robin Niblett, Director of the Royal Institute of International Relations)
“A coronavirus pandemic could be the straw that will break the back of a camel of economic globalization,” he said. China’s growing power has already convinced US political elites that they must deny Beijing access to high technology. Now, COVID-19 is pushing governments, companies and society to be ready to work in conditions of prolonged economic self-isolation.
In this context, it is extremely unlikely that the world will return to the idea of mutually beneficial globalization, which determined the face of the beginning of the 21st century. Without an incentive to defend the achievements of global economic integration, the architecture of global economic regulation created in the 20th century is rapidly degrading. To preserve international cooperation and reject open political competition from political leaders, incredible self-discipline will be required, the expert believes.
(Kishore Mahbubani, Distinguished Researcher, National University of Singapore)
The COVID-19 pandemic will not lead to fundamental changes in the development of the global economy. Coronavirus will only accelerate an already emerging trend: moving away from American-centered globalization towards China-centrism.
Mahbubani emphasizes that the American population has lost faith in globalization and international trade – which cannot be said of China. This is because the Chinese leaders have not forgotten about the century of humiliation, which was the result of Beijing’s complacency and its futile attempts to isolate itself from the outside world. Moreover, the last few decades of economic development have been the result of globalization.
The US is at a crossroads. If their main goal is to maintain world leadership, then Washington will have to enter into an uncompromising geopolitical confrontation with China on all fronts. However, if the United States seeks to improve the welfare of Americans – whose social situation has worsened – then it should cooperate with Beijing. A wiser choice, according to the scientist, would be cooperation, however, given the US political dislike for China, this option may not prevail.
Democracies crawl out of their shells
(John Ikenberry, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Princeton University)
In the short term, the crisis will spur all camps in the West to discuss strategy. Nationalists and anti-globalists, Chinese “hawks” and even liberal internationalists – all of them will see new evidence of the correctness of their views. Given the economic damage and social collapse, it is unlikely that anything other than a movement towards nationalism and great-power rivalry can happen.
However, as in the 30s and 40s of the last century, the opposite course of harsh internationalism may emerge, similar to the one that Franklin Delano Roosevelt personified. The FDR and other internationalists created the post-war order, which reorganized the open system with the help of new forms of protection and interdependence. The United States could no longer lock itself within its borders; they needed to operate within the framework of an open world order, which required the creation of a global infrastructure for multilateral cooperation.
So the United States and other Western democracies can go through the same chain of reactions, the catalyst of which will be a sense of vulnerability. “The reaction may initially take on a nationalist character, but in the long run, democracies will crawl out of their shells to find a new kind of pragmatic and defensive internationalism,” the professor said.
Less profit, more stability
(Shannon O’Neill, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations)
COVID-19 undermines the basic foundations of world production. Companies will have to rethink integrated supply chains involving multiple countries. Global supply chains have already been under economic pressure caused by rising Chinese labor costs, Donald Trump’s trade wars, and progress in robotics and automation. Coronavirus disrupted many economic ties: closing factories in the affected area left manufacturers and their suppliers without food or supplies.
On the other hand, a pandemic will force companies to care more about the origin of their products, which will lead to a change in an efficient economy to an excessive one. We will also witness government intervention and strategic stockpiling. “Profitability will fall, but logistical stability should increase,” O’Neill believes.
Pandemic may serve
(Shivshankar Menon, former National Security Advisor to the Indian Prime Minister)
Although the situation is still at an early stage, three points are already apparent. First, the coronavirus pandemic will change our policies. At the time of crisis, all of society — even libertarians — turned to governments. Nevertheless, experience suggests that authoritarianism and populists cope with the epidemic no better than democrats.
Secondly, this is not the end of an interconnected world. “The pandemic itself is proof of our interdependence,” the expert emphasizes. At the same time, everyone is already beginning to withdraw into themselves, seek autonomy and try to take control of their own destiny. We are moving to a poorer, more evil and smaller world.
However, there are also encouraging signs. India, for example, proactively convened a conference with the participation of all South Asian leaders in order to work out a common response to the pandemic. If a pandemic forces us to recognize that multilateral cooperation is in our interests, then it will serve the good.
US will need a new strategy
(Joseph Nye, professor at Harvard University)
In 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a new national security strategy with an emphasis on great power rivalry. However, COVID-19 showed that it does not meet the reality. “Even if the United States triumphs as a great power, they cannot defend themselves alone,” Nye emphasizes.
When it comes to transnational threats such as coronavirus or global warming, American power cannot be placed above other countries. The key to success lies in understanding the importance of sharing power with partners. Each country puts its national interests above all else: the only question is how broadly or narrowly these interests are defined. “COVID-19 showed that we are not able to tailor our strategy to this new world,” the professor believes.
Winners write COVID-19 story
(John Allen, President of the Brookings Institution and Retired General of the United States ILC)
As always, history will be written by the “winners” of the coronavirus. Each country and each individual member of society is faced with the consequences of this crisis. Therefore, those countries that survive the pandemic will announce a “victory” over those countries where the consequences are more devastating. For some, this will be a great and unconditional triumph of democracy, multilateralism and public health. For others, a demonstration of the “virtues” of authoritarian rule.
Be that as it may, this crisis will change the international power structure. COVID-19 will continue to undermine economic activity and foster tensions between countries. In the long run, a pandemic is likely to reduce the productive potential of the global economy. The risks are especially great for developing countries and states with a large number of vulnerable labor. The international system, in turn, will be under tremendous pressure, which will lead to instability and conflicts within and between countries.
A new stage in world capitalism
(Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize Laureate)
The fundamental shock of the global financial and economic system is a statement of the fact that global supply chains and distribution of goods are deeply vulnerable and can be violated. Consequently, the coronavirus pandemic will not only lead to long-term economic consequences, but also to more fundamental shifts.
Globalization allowed companies to delegate production to subcontractors around the world and deliver products to the markets according to a “hot-to-hot” scheme, saving on storage costs. Products lingering on the shelves for more than a few days were considered an indicator of market inefficiency. However, as seen in COVID-19, pathogens infect not only humans, but the entire system of continuous supply.
Given the scale of financial losses, companies will emerge from the pandemic with a feeling of deep distrust of such a model. The result will be a transition to a new stage of world capitalism, in which supply chains will be closer to home and protected from future disruptions. Such a strategy can reduce company profits in the short term, but will make the whole system more stable.
More pimped countries
(Richard Haas, President, Council on Foreign Relations)
At least over the course of several years, most states will withdraw into themselves, focusing on internal rather than external problems and trying to achieve self-sufficiency. Many countries will experience difficulties with economic recovery, and states on the verge of collapse will become more frequent.
Moreover, the crisis is likely to contribute to the deterioration of US-Chinese relations and the weakening of European integration. As for the positive consequences, there is likely to be some strengthening of the global health system.
United States failed leadership test
(Corey Shayk, Deputy Director, International Institute for Strategic Studies)
“The United States will no longer be considered an international leader because their government has demonstrated its narrow-minded selfishness and mediocre headache,” he said. The consequences of this crisis could be greatly mitigated if international organizations provided more information in a shorter time frame, which would enable governments to prepare for the storm. This is exactly what the United States could do, showing the whole world that although selfishness drives them, they live not only for them. “Washington has failed the leadership test, and the world will not benefit from it,” Shake emphasizes.
The power of the human spirit is everywhere
(Nicholas Burns, former US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs)
The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest global crisis of this century. Its scope and significance are enormous. The financial and economic crisis may overshadow the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
At the moment, international cooperation is regrettably far from ideal. If the United States and China cannot refuse to pick up and recriminate who really is to blame for the crisis and set an example of behavior, the level of trust in them can seriously decrease.
Nevertheless, in every country there are many examples of the strength of the human spirit – doctors, nurses, political leaders and ordinary citizens, who demonstrate perseverance, efficiency and ability to lead. This gives reason to hope that people around the world will be able to cope with this incredible challenge, Burns sums up.
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The article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by Ordo News staff in our US newsroom press.