When we as the international community see the light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the ongoing pandemic, we will be better placed to undertake a more realistic damage assessment. We will then be able to gauge the real impact of the pandemic on major and rising trends in international affairs. However, it is equally important to do some preliminary assessments, as the steps that states and global organization do (and do not) take today determine—and will continue to determine—the opportunities and challenges that they will encounter in the future. As such, there is a strong link between states’ performance in the fight against the pandemic and the analysis of post-COVID-19 global politics. At the same time, it is crucial for states to develop a sustainable vision for the pandemic’s aftermath and to garner support for that vision locally and globally. The states’ self-identified roles within the global system and their capacities will have a significant impact on their future positions.
This book, the second in the series published by the Center for Strategic Research and Antalya Diplomacy Forum, was written at a time when the international community has yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is comprised of assessments and analyses by respected scholars, global thinkers and experts on the potential impact of COVID-19 on the international system, states, people, great power rivalry, international organizations, security, globalization and conflicts. Although the outbreak has been brought under control in some states, a vaccine has not yet been found, lockdowns of varying intensities are ongoing, shops and production facilities have not been fully reopened in many states and there are still heavy restrictions on international travel. Yet, each and every article brings valuable insight into the matter at hand, offering various perspectives and lines of thinking. The authors hail from different corners of the world, and bring in their own unique backgrounds and experiences. The list of respected authors from all around the world was determined to ensure that the book offers a global perspective on a global crisis.
Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, from Pakistan’s Institute of Strategic Studies, calls upon the international community to stick together and work to build a global system that is based on cooperation, akin to the end of WWII. Teressa Coratella of the European Council for Foreign Relations’ Rome Branch argues that Europe has to decide whether it wants to be regarded as a Great Power to accomplish a new start based on new values, solidarity and ambitious social and economic initiatives. Michael Doran from the Hudson Institute in the U.S. predicts that U.S.-China rivalry will intensify; however, since the two economies are deeply intertwined, the competition will have limits and make the U.S. strengthen its ties with allies, including Turkey. Former President of Argentina Eduardo Duhalde argues that COVID-19 has exposed the extraordinarily dramatic situation of the world economic order and has created inequalities unprecedented in history. Ehud Eiran from the University of Haifa and MITVIM in Israel joins others in their readings that the pandemic may deepen the great power rivalry between the U.S. and China, and that under current conditions confrontation rather than cooperation is a likely scenario. Afyare Elmi from Qatar University and Abdi Hersi from Griffith University in Australia argue that the pandemic will exacerbate the already dire economic situation in Africa, triggering waves of migration and great power competition, but at the same time, the co-authors write, it may positively impact collaboration and integration within the continent. Richard Falk of Princeton University and the Orfalea Center for Global Studies projects alternative futures for global governance in the post-COVID-19 era, drawing clear lines between what is expected, what seems necessary and what is desirable.
Ibrahim Fraihat from the Doha Institute of Graduate Studies and Georgetown University in Qatar predicts that the pandemic is unlikely to lead to the demise of the pre-pandemic order; rather it will reinforce the already existing paradigm and create further power diffusion on the world stage. George Friedman of Geopolitical Futures in the U.S. forecasts that the world is moving from recession to depression, which could be followed by massive social instability, economic fear and political tensions. Governments, according to Friedman, will focus on maintaining national security by reducing dependence on other countries. Yuichi Hosoya of Keio University in Japan argues that an internationalist policy may help to contain the spread of future waves of the coronavirus. According to Wolfgang Ischinger of the Munich Security Conference and Hertie School, the pandemic is a catalyst that has accelerated the already existing trends in international politics, such as declining U.S. leadership, strained transatlantic relations, decreasing global cooperation and the resurgence of nationalism and great power politics; it is also a stress test for the European project. Ammar Kahf from the Omran Center believes that the “new normal” will be determined according to the duration and severity of the pandemic and global powers’ policies. Andrey Kortunov from the Russian International Affairs Council lists threats and opportunities for Russian foreign policy, and argues that the current crisis is a solid reason for shaking up one’s old foreign policy wardrobe.
Galia Lindenstrauss from the INSS in Israel answers the question to what extent the pandemic will have an impact on diasporic communities, considering the expectations that the pandemic will slow down and even reverse some globalization processes. According to Raja Mohan of the Institute of Asian Studies at the National Singapore University, the world may be inching toward an era of intensive competition to shape multilateral institutions, and the challenge coming from China to the U.S. may prove to be tougher than Soviet Russia’s challenge at its peak. Joseph S. Nye Jr. of Harvard University argues that unless President Trump pursues cooperation and soft power, the existing policies will foster nationalist populism and authoritarianism. Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik’s Volker Perthes believes that the catchphrase “nothing will ever be the same again” after the pandemic is overly ambitious, and at this phase of the pandemic only provisional assumptions rather than definitive answers can be expected. Richard Rubenstein from George Mason University writes that the COVID-19 outbreak will very likely weaken the American empire with respect to China and possibly other competitors as well. According to Richard Sakwa of Kent University, the pandemic has reinforced the weakness of international governance, the primacy of state action, the entrenched character of great power rivalries and the overall impasse in post-Cold War international politics. Samir Saran from the Observer Research Foundation in India underlines the absence of American leadership during the COVID-19 outbreak, sees China as the leading contender, and critiques a world disorder in which most communities have to deal with the dire consequences of the pandemic on their own while the great powers look away or follow their self-interests. Nathalie Tocci from the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Italy sees the COVID-19 pandemic as a defining moment for the European Union’s internal cohesion and global role; while Jose Ignacio Torreblanca from ECFR’s Madrid Office predicts that the crisis may lead to the strengthening of multilateralism, the capabilities of the EU and democratic politics at the national level. Rigoberta Menchu Tum, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from Guatemala, writes that the pandemic should force us to reevaluate ourselves both materially and spiritually, rethink our individual and collective way of life and produce radical changes in international organizations. Marton Ugrosdy from the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade in Hungary argues that COVID-19 will lead to two short-term outcomes: the UN system will be more irrelevant and the usefulness of large multilateral organizations will be undermined. Yiwei Wang from Renmin University in China calls for going beyond ideological constraints and promotes innovation to open the global scientific system to tackle such global crises as COVID-19. According to Joshua Webb and Ronja Scheler of the Körber Foundation in Germany, the pandemic has underlined major cracks in Berlin’s three pillars of foreign policy: European integration, transatlantic cooperation and an export-driven economy model. Last but not least, Mahjoob Zweiri from the Gulf Studies Center defines the COVID-19 pandemic as a shifting-of-sands event rather than a majör earthquake, noting that major changes do not occur because of one event.
The Center for Strategic Research and Antalya Diplomacy Forum are indebted to Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yavuz Selim Kıran for their guidance and support, without which this book would not have been possible. Ambassador Burak Akçapar also contributed greatly at every phase of the book. A particular debt is owed also to the Turkish Embassies abroad who helped gather some of the articles in this publication. Special thanks go to the hardworking personnel of the Center for Strategic Research, who worked extra hours during the days of the pandemic to prepare this book, which is one of the first contributions to the literature on COVID-19’s impact on global politics.
Dr. Ufuk Ulutaş
Chairman, Center for Strategic Research
Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs