“In Hong Kong, graffiti reads: “There can be no return to normal because normal was the problem in the first place… The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has said: “The relationship between the biggest powers has never been as dysfunctional. Covid-19 is showing dramatically, either we join [together] … or we can be defeated”
Watch TheGuardian video below (just hit play)
“In Europe, the US and Asia the discussion has broadened out. Public life may be at a standstill, but public debate has accelerated. Everything is up for debate – the trade-offs between a trashed economy and public health, the relative virtues of centralised or regionalised health systems, the exposed fragilities of globalisation, the future of the EU, populism, the inherent advantage of authoritarianism.
It is as if the pandemic has turned into a competition for global leadership, and it will be the countries that most effectively respond to the crisis that will gain traction. Diplomats, operating out of emptied embassies, are busy defending their governments’ handling of the crisis, and often take deep offence to criticism. National pride, and health, are at stake. Each country looks at their neighbour to see how quickly they are “flattening the curve””
My comment from last week: “Post-Corona, the European Union is forced (as well as politically authorised) to think and act as a united region – the United States of Europe will emerge much quicker than anticipated, and the USofE will once again work much closer with a post-Trump USA”
“The Crisis Group thinktank, in assessing how the virus will permanently change international politics, suggests: “For now we can discern two competing narratives gaining currency – one in which the lesson is that countries ought to come together to better defeat Covid-19, and one in which the lesson is that countries need to stand apart in order to better protect themselves from it. The crisis also represents a stark test of the competing claims of liberal and illiberal states to better manage extreme social distress. As the pandemic unfolds it will test not only the operational capacities of organisations like the WHO and the UN but also the basic assumptions about the values and political bargains that underpin them”
“Some of Europe’s most scathing critics have been the pro-Europeans. Nicole Gnesotto, the vice-president of the Jacques Delors Institute thinktank, says: “The EU’s lack of preparations, its powerlessness, its timidity are staggering. Of course, health is not part of its competency, but it is not without means or responsibility….The Portuguese prime minister, António Costa, spoke of “disgusting” and “petty” comments by the Dutch minister Wopke Hoekstra, while the Spanish foreign minister, Arancha González, wondered whether the Dutch understood that “a first-class cabin would not protect you when the whole ship sinks”.
“Europe’s chief solace is to look across the Atlantic and watch the daily chaos that is Donald Trump’s evening press conference – the daily reminder that rational people can plan for anything, except an irrational president. Nathalie Tocci, an adviser to Josep Borrell, the EU foreign affairs chief, wonders whether, much like the 1956 Suez crisis symbolised the ultimate decay of the UK’s global power, coronavirus could mark the “Suez moment” for the US”
My comments from last week: “Post-Corona, ‘strong-man’ and populist politicians harking back to a vanished past will be ousted or simply ignored, and a new generation of foresightful leaders (millennials and females) will take their place. Yet at the same time, some autocratic regimes will seek to expand their power over their citizens using the crisis as an excuse for maintaining dragonian surveillance measures. Post-Corona, conventional capitalism that prioritised owners and shareholders at the expense of everything/one else (including a proper public healthcare system) is waning, and more inclusive and sustainable economic models are gaining traction – sustainable capitalism is finally on the horizon”
Read my detailed post-corona future ‘backcasting’ piece.
More related quotes from The Guardian
“Many on the European left, such as the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, also fear an authoritarian contagion, predicting in the west “a new barbarism with a human face – ruthless survivalist measures enforced with regret and even sympathy, but legitimised by expert opinions… By contrast, Shivshankar Menon, a visiting professor at Ashoka University in India, says: “Experience so far shows that authoritarians or populists are no better at handling the pandemic. Indeed, the countries that responded early and successfully, such as Korea and Taiwan, have been democracies – not those run by populist or authoritarian leaders”
Francis Fukuyama concurs: “The major dividing line in effective crisis response will not place autocracies on one side and democracies on the other. The crucial determinant in performance will not be the type of regime, but the state’s capacity and, above all, trust in government”
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