Will the Coronavirus Change the Global Order?


While the attention of the international community has largely been focused on the threat posed by the coronavirus, all indications are that this crisis will eventually come to an end. If this is the case, how is the United States likely to fare as it emerges from the global COVID-19 pandemic.  Will the global order remain largely unchanged? Or will the United States enter into a new world in which globalization and interdependence are a thing of the past, while state sovereignty becomes increasingly significant?

On Thursday, May 7, the Center for the National Interest featured two prominent speakers to discuss these issues in a webinar event moderated by Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the National Interest.

Joseph Nye, who is the author of a new book Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump, made the case for continued globalization. In a recent article in Foreign Policy, he contends that America should choose “cooperative and soft-power enhancing polices” to ensure “a geopolitical path to a better world.” Nye is a former assistant secretary of defense, the former Dean of the Kennedy School and currently Distinguished Service Professor, emeritus, at Harvard. He is the author of numerous books and one of America’s most influential foreign policy scholars.

Conversely, Dimitri K. Simes, who is president and CEO of the Center for the National Interest, argued that the era of globalization is undergoing a profound shock as a result of the upheaval unleashed by the coronavirus. Simes is the author of a cover story in the latest issue of the National Interest magazine called “The Perfect Storm.” In it, he asserts, “Reforming American foreign policy requires nothing less than the recognition that the liberal world order—the battle cry of global elites on both sides of the Atlantic—was largely a myth rooted in illusions and double standards.” He calls for a return to strategic thinking rooted in a clear-eyed assessment of its alliances and relations with international institutions such as the G20 to help promote long-term stability and prosperity.