Stephen M. Walt(Professor of international relations at Harvard University): The pandemic will strengthen the state and reinforce nationalism. Governments of all types will adopt emergency measures to manage the crisis, and many will be loath to relinquish these new powers when the crisis is over. COVID-19 will also accelerate the shift in power and influence from West to East.  South Korea and Singapore have responded best, and China has reacted well after its early mistakes. The response in Europe and America has been slow and haphazard by comparison, further tarnishing the aura of the Western “brand.” What won’t change is the fundamentally conflictive nature of world politics. We will see a further retreat from hyperglobalization, as citizens look to national governments to protect them and as states and firms seek to reduce future vulnerabilities. In short, COVID-19 will create a world that is less open, less prosperous, and less free. The combination of a deadly virus, inadequate planning, and incompetent leadership has placed humanity on a new and worrisome path.

Robin Niblett (Director and Chief Executive of Chatham House): The coronavirus pandemic could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of economic globalization. COVID-19 has forced governments, companies, and societies to strengthen their capacity to cope with extended periods of economic self-isolation. It seems highly unlikely that the world will return to the idea of mutually beneficial globalization that defined the early 21st century. And without the incentive to protect the shared gains from global economic integration, the architecture of global economic governance established in the 20th century will quickly atrophy. It will then take enormous self-discipline for political leaders to sustain international cooperation and not retreat into overt geopolitical competition.

Kishore Mahbubani (Distinguished Fellow at the National University of Singapore's Asia Research Institute): The COVID-19 pandemic will only accelerate a change that had already begun: a move away from U.S.-centric globalization to a more China-centric globalization.

G. John Ikenberry (Professor of Politics and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton): In the short term, the crisis will give fuel to all the various camps in the Western grand strategy debate. The nationalists and anti-globalists, the China hawks, and even the liberal internationalists will all see new evidence for the urgency of their views. Given the economic damage and social collapse that is unfolding, it is hard to see anything other than a reinforcement of the movement toward nationalism, great-power rivalry, strategic decoupling, and the like.

Shannon K. O'Neil (Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations): COVID-19 is undermining the basic tenets of global manufacturing. Companies will now rethink and shrink the multistep, multicountry supply chains that dominate production today. Global supply chains were already coming under fire—economically, due to rising Chinese labor costs. More companies will demand to know more about where their supplies come from and will trade off efficiency for redundancy. Governments will intervene as well, forcing what they consider strategic industries to have domestic backup plans and reserves. Profitability will fall, but supply stability should rise.

Shivshankar Menon (Distinguished Fellow at Brookings India, Former National Security Advisor to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and a visiting Professor at Ashoka University, India):The coronavirus pandemic will change politics, both within states and between them. It is to the power of government that societies—even libertarians—have turned. Government’s relative success in overcoming the pandemic and its economic effects will exacerbate or diminish security issues and the recent polarization within societies. Either way, government is back. Secondly, this is not yet the end of an interconnected world. The pandemic itself is proof of our interdependence. But in all polities, there is already a turning inward, a search for autonomy and control of one’s own fate. We are headed for a poorer, meaner, and smaller world.

John Allen (President of the Brookings Institution, Retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star General, and Former Commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan): This crisis will reshuffle the international power structure in ways we can only begin to imagine. COVID-19 will continue to depress economic activity and increase tension between countries. Over the long term, the pandemic will likely significantly reduce the productive capacity of the global economy, especially if businesses close and individuals detach from the labor force. This risk of dislocation is especially great for developing nations and others with a large share of economically vulnerable workers. The international system will, in turn, come under great pressure, resulting in instability and widespread conflict within and across countries.

Laurie Garrett (Former Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Pulitzer Prize winning science writer):  The fundamental shock to the world’s financial and economic system is the recognition that global supply chains and distribution networks are deeply vulnerable to disruption. The coronavirus pandemic will therefore not only have long-lasting economic effects, but lead to a more fundamental change. Globalization allowed companies to farm out manufacturing all over the world and deliver their products to markets on a just-in-time basis, bypassing the costs of warehousing. Inventories that sat on shelves for more than a few days were considered market failures. Supply had to be sourced and shipped on a carefully orchestrated, global level. Given the scale of financial market losses the world has experienced, companies are likely to come out of this pandemic decidedly gun-shy about the just-in-time model and about globally dispersed production. The result could be a dramatic new stage in global capitalism, in which supply chains are brought closer to home and filled with redundancies to protect against future disruption. That may cut into companies’ near-term profits but render the entire system more resilient.

Richard N. Haass (President of the Council on Foreign Relations): The coronavirus crisis will ​at least for a few years lead most governments ​to turn inward, focusing on what takes place within their borders rather than ​on what happens beyond them. There will be greater moves toward selective self-sufficiency (and, as a result, decoupling) given supply chain vulnerability; even greater opposition to large-scale immigration; and a reduced ​willingness or commitment to tackle regional or global problems (including climate change) given the perceived need to dedicate resources to rebuild at home and deal with economic consequences of the crisis​. Many countries will have difficulty recovering from the crisis, with state weakness and failed states becoming an even more prevalent feature of the world. The crisis will likely contribute to the ongoing deterioration of Sino-American relations and the weakening of European integration. On the positive side, we should see some modest strengthening of global public health governance. But overall, a crisis rooted in globalization will weaken rather than add to the world’s willingness and ability to deal with it.

Kori Schake (Deputy Director General of the International Institute for Strategic Studies): The United States will no longer be seen as an international leader because of its government’s narrow self-interest and bungling incompetence. The global effects of this pandemic could have been greatly attenuated by having international organizations provide more and earlier information, which would have given governments time to prepare and direct resources to where they’re most needed. This is something the United States could have organized, showing that while it is self-interested, it is not solely self-interested. Washington has failed the leadership test, and the world is worse off for it.

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