The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15081564
The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order

By Henry A. Kissinger
April 3, 2020

The U.S. must protect its citizens from disease while starting the urgent work of planning for a new epoch.

The surreal atmosphere of the Covid-19 pandemic calls to mind how I felt as a young man in the 84th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge. Now, as in late 1944, there is a sense of inchoate danger, aimed not at any particular person, but striking randomly and with devastation. But there is an important difference between that faraway time and ours. American endurance then was fortified by an ultimate national purpose. Now, in a divided country, efficient and farsighted government is necessary to overcome obstacles unprecedented in magnitude and global scope. Sustaining the public trust is crucial to social solidarity, to the relation of societies with each other, and to international peace and stability.

Nations cohere and flourish on the belief that their institutions can foresee calamity, arrest its impact and restore stability. When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed. Whether this judgment is objectively fair is irrelevant. The reality is the world will never be the same after the coronavirus. To argue now about the past only makes it harder to do what has to be done.

The coronavirus has struck with unprecedented scale and ferocity. Its spread is exponential: U.S. cases are doubling every fifth day. At this writing, there is no cure. Medical supplies are insufficient to cope with the widening waves of cases. Intensive-care units are on the verge, and beyond, of being overwhelmed. Testing is inadequate to the task of identifying the extent of infection, much less reversing its spread. A successful vaccine could be 12 to 18 months away.

The U.S. administration has done a solid job in avoiding immediate catastrophe. The ultimate test will be whether the virus’s spread can be arrested and then reversed in a manner and at a scale that maintains public confidence in Americans’ ability to govern themselves. The crisis effort, however vast and necessary, must not crowd out the urgent task of launching a parallel enterprise for the transition to the post-coronavirus order.

Leaders are dealing with the crisis on a largely national basis, but the virus’s society-dissolving effects do not recognize borders. While the assault on human health will—hopefully—be temporary, the political and economic upheaval it has unleashed could last for generations. No country, not even the U.S., can in a purely national effort overcome the virus. Addressing the necessities of the moment must ultimately be coupled with a global collaborative vision and program. If we cannot do both in tandem, we will face the worst of each.

Drawing lessons from the development of the Marshall Plan and the Manhattan Project, the U.S. is obliged to undertake a major effort in three domains. First, shore up global resilience to infectious disease. Triumphs of medical science like the polio vaccine and the eradication of smallpox, or the emerging statistical-technical marvel of medical diagnosis through artificial intelligence, have lulled us into a dangerous complacency. We need to develop new techniques and technologies for infection control and commensurate vaccines across large populations. Cities, states and regions must consistently prepare to protect their people from pandemics through stockpiling, cooperative planning and exploration at the frontiers of science.

Second, strive to heal the wounds to the world economy. Global leaders have learned important lessons from the 2008 financial crisis. The current economic crisis is more complex: The contraction unleashed by the coronavirus is, in its speed and global scale, unlike anything ever known in history. And necessary public-health measures such as social distancing and closing schools and businesses are contributing to the economic pain. Programs should also seek to ameliorate the effects of impending chaos on the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Third, safeguard the principles of the liberal world order. The founding legend of modern government is a walled city protected by powerful rulers, sometimes despotic, other times benevolent, yet always strong enough to protect the people from an external enemy. Enlightenment thinkers reframed this concept, arguing that the purpose of the legitimate state is to provide for the fundamental needs of the people: security, order, economic well-being, and justice. Individuals cannot secure these things on their own. The pandemic has prompted an anachronism, a revival of the walled city in an age when prosperity depends on global trade and movement of people.

The world’s democracies need to defend and sustain their Enlightenment values. A global retreat from balancing power with legitimacy will cause the social contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally. Yet this millennial issue of legitimacy and power cannot be settled simultaneously with the effort to overcome the Covid-19 plague. Restraint is necessary on all sides—in both domestic politics and international diplomacy. Priorities must be established.

We went on from the Battle of the Bulge into a world of growing prosperity and enhanced human dignity. Now, we live an epochal period. The historic challenge for leaders is to manage the crisis while building the future. Failure could set the world on fire.

Mr. Kissinger served as secretary of state and national security adviser in the Nixon and Ford administrations.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-corona ... 1585953005

Kissinger writes well for a man aged 96.
This text is worth consideration.
#15081570
He sure does I could learn a bit from the great statesmen, he presents a clear argument and backs it up with rational theory. Thank you for sharing this I wonder where HK see events taking the country in 7 days, 30 days, 3 months... he sounds like he still has a few friends keeping him informed with the going ons of the levers of power. I guess he could compare it to a prolonged Cuban Missile crisis but he wasn't in power then so maybe he could even make a case for any number of the foriegn conflicks the Arab-Isreal conflict or the India-Pakistan-Bangladesh conflict or anything in Vietnam or Cambodia.

How different events are week to week and somec ountries are handling it better than others this will be telling. If countries like Australia and NZ can show quick signs of being ontop of the spread and then be able to get on with some normal post COVID-19 life with neighbours who are also in a similar position. But if the American public and European public see this they will naturally feel anger at their own government. Causing anger and instability. Also it could be a cruelmistress promising a quick fix but then another outbreak testing the public will to follow the governments instructions.
#15081571
Kissinger has got to be one of the contenders for biggest pr!#k of the age. Embarrassingly, I often find myself in agreement with what he says.

Looking at all the money OECD nation’s are throwing at their economies does make me wonder if that money would be better spent on creating a new world rather than trying to maintain the old on the assumption that things will return to normal after the pandemic is passed. Is it time do move on from hydro carbon energy to an electrical economy? What about making permanent the work from home rather than commenting to the CBD to work?

But surely the next big problem is still part of stabilisation. If Trump, Xi and Europe’s Leaders want to make themselves useful, they could get together to devise an immediate solution to global food supply. If stable food prices rise, poor, over populated countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh will fall quickly. I argue for a similar solution to what we see in developed countries with their paying companies to retain workers. The big economies need to fund food supply to poorer countries for a period of time if world prices threaten to rise beyond what people in those countries can afford. Otherwise the global political order will unravel.
#15081705
The last global crisis didn't change the world. But this one could
William Davies
The financial meltdown of 2008 failed to provoke a fundamental shift in capitalism. Will this moment be different?The term “crisis” derives from the Greek “krisis”, meaning decision or judgment. From this, we also get terms such as critic (someone who judges) and critical condition (a medical state that could go either way). A crisis can conclude well or badly, but the point is that its outcome is fundamentally uncertain. To experience a crisis is to inhabit a world that is temporarily up for grabs.

The severity of our current crisis is indicated by the extreme uncertainty as to how or when it will end. The modellers at Imperial College – whose calculations have belatedly shifted the government’s comparatively relaxed approach to coronavirus – suggest that our only guaranteed exit route from enforced “social distancing” is a vaccine, which may not be widely available until the summer of next year. It is hard to imagine a set of policies that could successfully navigate such a lengthy hiatus, and it would be harder still to implement them.
It is now inevitable that we will experience deep global recession, a breakdown of labour markets and the evaporation of consumer spending. The terror that drove government action in the autumn of 2008 was that money would stop coming out of the cash machines, unless the banking system was propped up. It turns out that if people stop coming out of their homes, then the circulation of money grinds to a halt as well. Small businesses are shedding employees at a frightening speed, while Amazon has advertised for an additional 100,000 workers in the US. (One of the few, and far from welcome, continuities from the world we’re leaving behind is the relentless growth of the platform giants.)

The decade that shapes our contemporary imagination of crises is the 1970s, which exemplified the way a historic rupture can set an economy and a society on a new path. This period marked the collapse of the postwar system of fixed exchange rates, capital controls and wage policies, which were perceived to have led to uncontrollable inflation. It also created the conditions in which the new right of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan could ride to the rescue, offering a novel medicine of tax cuts, interest rate hikes and attacks on organised labour.The 1970s inspired a vision of crisis as a wide-ranging shift in ideology, which has retained its hold over much of the left ever since. The crisis involved a contradiction that was largely internal to the Keynesian model of capitalism (wages were being pushed up faster than productivity growth, and destroying profits), and an overhaul in the dominant style of business: out with rigid heavy manufacturing, in with flexible production that could respond more nimbly to consumer tastes.

There was also an important spatial dimension to the 1970s crisis. Capital abandoned its iconic industrial strongholds in northern England and the American midwest, and (with help from the state) headed towards the financial and business districts of slick global cities, such as London and New York.

For over 40 years after Thatcher first took office, many people on the left have waited impatiently for a successor to the 1970s, in the hope that a similar ideological transition might occur in reverse. But despite considerable upheaval and social pain, the global financial crisis of 2008 failed to provoke a fundamental shift in policy orthodoxy. In fact, after the initial burst of public spending that rescued the banks, the free-market Thatcherite worldview became even more dominant in Britain and the eurozone. The political upheavals of 2016 took aim at the status quo, but with little sense of a coherent alternative to it. But both these crises now appear as mere forerunners to the big one that emerged in Wuhan at the close of last year. We can already identify a few ways that 2020 and its aftermath will differ from the crisis of the 1970s. First, while its transmission has followed the flightpaths of global capitalism – business travel, tourism, trade – its root cause is external to the economy. The degree of devastation it will spread is due to very basic features of global capitalism that almost no economist questions – high levels of international connectivity and the reliance of most people on the labour market. These are not features of a particular economic policy paradigm, in the way that fixed exchange rates and collective bargaining were fundamental to Keynesianism. They are features of capitalism as such.

Second, the spatial aspect of this crisis is unlike a typical crisis of capitalism. Save for whichever bunkers and islands the super-rich are hiding in, this pandemic does not discriminate on the basis of economic geography. It may end up devaluing urban centres, as it becomes clear how much “knowledge-based work” can be done online after all. But while the virus has arrived at different times in different places, a striking feature of the last few weeks has been the universality of human behaviours, concerns and fears.

In fact, the spread of smartphones and the internet has generated a new global public of a sort we have never witnessed before. Events such as September 11 provided a glimpse of this, with Nokias around the world vibrating with instructions to get to a television immediately. But coronavirus is not a spectacle happening somewhere else: it’s going on outside your window, right now, and in that sense it meshes perfectly with the age of ubiquitous social media, where every experience is captured and shared.

The intensity of this common experience is one grim reason that the present crisis feels closer to a war than a recession. In the end, government policymakers will ultimately be judged in terms of how many thousands of people die. Before that reckoning is reached, there will be horrifying glimpses beneath the surface of modern civilisation, as health services are overwhelmed and saveable lives go unsaved. The immediacy of this visceral, mortal threat makes this moment feel less like 2008 or the 1970s and more like the other iconic crisis in our collective imagination – 1945. Matters of life and death occasion more drastic shifts in policy than economic indicators ever can, as witnessed in Rishi Sunak’s astonishing announcement that the government would cover up to 80% of the salaries of workers if companies kept them on their payroll. Such unthinkable measures are suddenly possible – and that sense of possibility may not be easily foreclosed again.

Rather than view this as a crisis of capitalism, it might better be understood as the sort of world-making event that allows for new economic and intellectual beginnings.

In 1755, most of Lisbon was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami, killing as many as 75,000 people. Its economy was devastated, but it was rebuilt along different lines that nurtured its own producers. Thanks to reduced reliance on British exports, Lisbon’s economy was ultimately revitalised. But the earthquake also exerted a profound philosophical influence, especially on Voltaire and Immanuel Kant. The latter devoured information on the topic that was circulating around the nascent international news media, producing early seismological theories about what had occurred. Foreshadowing the French revolution, this was an event that was perceived to have implications for all humanity; destruction on such a scale shook theological assumptions, heightening the authority of scientific thinking. If God had any plan for the human species, Kant concluded in his later work, it was for us to acquire individual and collective autonomy, via a “universal civic society” based around the exercise of secular reason.

It will take years or decades for the significance of 2020 to be fully understood. But we can be sure that, as an authentically global crisis, it is also a global turning point. There is a great deal of emotional, physical and financial pain in the immediate future. But a crisis of this scale will never be truly resolved until many of the fundamentals of our social and economic life have been remade.

• William Davies is a sociologist and political economist. His latest book is Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/24/coronavirus-crisis-change-world-financial-global-capitalism
#15081898
Henry A. Kissinger wrote:The surreal atmosphere of the Covid-19 pandemic calls to mind how I felt as a young man in the 84th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge.

Is Kissenger just stupid or does he just write this stuff out of contempt for his audience? What a tragedy the Battle of the Bulge was. And no one seems to ask the question how? How on earth did Hitler who to the Army Generals had clearly lost the war, manage to get those Generals to denude the Eastern front and launch a massive futile attack on the Western Front? The answer of course is the unconditional surrender demand by liberal President and Communist fellow traveller Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Now, as in late 1944, there is a sense of inchoate danger, aimed not at any particular person, but striking randomly and with devastation. But there is an important difference between that faraway time and ours. American endurance then was fortified by an ultimate national purpose. Now, in a divided country, efficient and farsighted government is necessary to overcome obstacles unprecedented in magnitude and global scope.

America's Generals were not unified behind an agreed national purpose. General Patton who did such a great job in the Battle of the Bulge was quite aware of the madness of FDR's policy. There was nothing inchoate about Patton's fear. It was of Communists and their liberal fellow travellers inside the American government.

We went on from the Battle of the Bulge into a world of growing prosperity and enhanced human dignity.

:roll: Or in the real world, Poland, East Germany,, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, China, Tibet and North Korea would fall to Communism in the coming months and years.
#15081901
Interesting read coming from a Republican. Although I agree with his analysis for the "altering of the world order" and cooperation efforts and lessons learnt from this pandemic, the political significance will be the aftermath at home not in geopolitics. Although I don't know how he has concluded that the US thus far has done a great job at "avoiding the catastrophe".
#15081907
Rich wrote:

America's Generals were not unified behind an agreed national purpose. General Patton who did such a great job in the Battle of the Bulge was quite aware of the madness of FDR's policy. There was nothing inchoate about Patton's fear. It was of Communists and their liberal fellow travellers inside the American government.




Patton wanted to start WW3 as soon as WW2 ended.

That was insane.

No one had any (realistic) idea as to how we were going to handle Soviet Russia after WW2. One of our diplomats in Russia did know, and came up with the Cold War. Which worked, we won.
#15082014
Indeed. The US economy is predicted to have shrinken by 21.6%, while that of China is expected to have grown by 5.1% by this time next year.

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/forecast
https://tradingeconomics.com/china/forecast

However, while 5.1% for China is believable, -21.6% for the US is shocking.
#15082025
foxdemon wrote:I argue for a similar solution to what we see in developed countries with their paying companies to retain workers. The big economies need to fund food supply to poorer countries for a period of time if world prices threaten to rise beyond what people in those countries can afford. Otherwise the global political order will unravel.


This is already occurring due to heavy agricultural subsidization in developed countries and it's largely devastating for poor societies because it wipes out local food producers.
#15082406
Donna wrote:This is already occurring due to heavy agricultural subsidization in developed countries and it's largely devastating for poor societies because it wipes out local food producers.



That is a good point. Subsidisation undermines market forces. Silly me! I don’t know what I was thinking. Of course the free market should not be interfered with by what amounts to government intervention and possibly central planning. Lucky I have you to correct my erroneous thinking.
#15082426
foxdemon wrote:That is a good point. Subsidisation undermines market forces. Silly me! I don’t know what I was thinking. Of course the free market should not be interfered with by what amounts to government intervention and possibly central planning. Lucky I have you to correct my erroneous thinking.


The issue is really one of overproduction, as the subsidies cause food producers in wealthy countries (usually large firms) to make too much, which they then dump onto poor countries and disrupt the material development of those societies. If you think this practice is a good thing because the subsidies "interfere" with the "free" market (lmao) then you must be pretty dumb but that's what we've come to expect from your ice cold takes anyway.
#15082430
Donna wrote:The issue is really one of overproduction, as the subsidies cause food producers in wealthy countries (usually large firms) to make too much, which they then dump onto poor countries and disrupt the material development of those societies. If you think this practice is a good thing because the subsidies "interfere" with the "free" market (lmao) then you must be pretty dumb but that's what we've come to expect from your ice cold takes anyway.



Hey, you are the one who is defending the free market. By your logic, we should oppose government control of production.

While on the subject, do you support free trade also? I hear that trade restrictions by wealthy countries disadvantage agricultural exports from poor countries.
#15082433
foxdemon wrote:Hey, you are the one who is defending the free market. By your logic, we should oppose government control of production.

While on the subject, do you support free trade also? I hear that trade restrictions by wealthy countries disadvantage agricultural exports from poor countries.


Lol if you think a critique of corporate subsidies in the West is "defending the free market" you are straight up a dumb ass.
#15082438
Donna wrote:Lol if you think a critique of corporate subsidies in the West is "defending the free market" you are straight up a dumb ass.



Are agricultural subsidies in the West entirely corporate subsidies? Do farmers get no government support no America or Europe?

You didn’t answer about your views on free trade. Western trade restrictions on agricultural products disadvantages other food producers around the world. Surely it would be fairer for the poor people of the global south to have unfettered access to western markets. Wouldn’t you agree?
#15082441
foxdemon wrote:Are agricultural subsidies in the West entirely corporate subsidies? Do farmers get no government support no America or Europe?


No, but smaller farmers do depend on subsidized agri-corps, even if it's just to get their product to market. The scale of distribution is part of the damaging dynamic.

You didn’t answer about your views on free trade. Western trade restrictions on agricultural products disadvantages other food producers around the world. Surely it would be fairer for the poor people of the global south to have unfettered access to western markets. Wouldn’t you agree?


I generally support protectionism for developing or emerging economies, which may presuppose that wealthier countries trade at a deficit. The global south has a right to catch up with the West and enjoy the benefits of education and social development.
#15082444
Donna wrote:I generally support protectionism for developing or emerging economies, which may presuppose that wealthier countries trade at a deficit. The global south has a right to catch up with the West and enjoy the benefits of education and social development.

Protectionism of one sector of the economy is paid by the unprotected sectors. Third world nationalist economics sought to protect heavy industry at the expense of the other sectors of the economy and the living standards of everyone in those other sectors. Reducing third world food exports and hence encouraging the transfer of labour and capital in third world countries into heavy industry, notably iron and steel production, was very much in accord with Third Worldist protectionist economics.

It was Neo Liberal economics that frowned on western agricultural productions subsidies and tariffs and encouraged developing countries to concentrate on their areas of relative economic advantage, which normally meant agriculture and other primary resource production.
#15082445
Rich wrote:Protectionism of one sector of the economy is paid by the unprotected sectors. Third world nationalist economics sought to protect heavy industry at the expense of the other sectors of the economy and the living standards of everyone in those other sectors. Reducing third world food exports and hence encouraging the transfer of labour and capital in third world countries into heavy industry, notably iron and steel production, was very much in accord with Third Worldist protectionist economics.

It was Neo Liberal economics that frowned on western agricultural productions subsidies and tariffs and encouraged developing countries to concentrate on their areas of relative economic advantage, which normally meant agriculture and other primary resource production.


This is largely incorrect. Neoliberalism used agricultural subsidies to replace price controls. Also, the development of agriculture in poor countries does not hinge on Western consumption.
#15082608
Donna wrote:No, but smaller farmers do depend on subsidized agri-corps, even if it's just to get their product to market. The scale of distribution is part of the damaging dynamic.


Are you suggesting we let billons of people starve in order to reduce the scale of agricultural industry?



I generally support protectionism for developing or emerging economies, which may presuppose that wealthier countries trade at a deficit. The global south has a right to catch up with the West and enjoy the benefits of education and social development.



But that would undermine the viability of farming in America, forcing many farmers of the land. Given American farms produce a large proportion of the global surplus of agricultural output available for trade, the result would be even less food to go around, much higher prices for that which remains, and lots of starving people unable to afford food.


We both need to acknowledge that communism has not had a good track record when it comes to agriculture. There was the 1930s famines in Russia thanks to communist policies, the 1960s famines in China thanks to communist policies, the same in Cambodia, now Venezuela. In fact the majority of the hundreds of millions of people who died due to communism, died from starvation. Surely you can see that it would be best if communists refrained from getting involved in anything remotely to do with agriculture and food production.

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