Is the present scene the outcome of a master-stroke deliberately unleashed by one or more nations or a mis-stroke that got the calculations wrong, or a simple act of nature trying to teach us some grave lessons? Difficult to say… Anyway, the whole wide world has been struck hard and heavily. The ‘fear’ of the aftershocks have rocked the capital markets worldwide, with stock prices and bond yields plunging. The containment measures such as full or partial lockdowns have disrupted manufacturing, and distribution/supply.
Different perspectives on the geo-political consequences seem to be plausible at this juncture. While Europe, China and the US may take quite some time to pick up the pieces and resume their normal politico-economic operations—their steps could be heavier and slower as they carry the weight of their woe-struck economies. And it is on the premise of the economic state of affairs, the political realities shall stand—sturdy or otherwise. At a micro level— the future of Xi Jinping, Trump and Putin, and at the macro level, issues such as terrorism, extremism, bilateral conflicts, the entire UN apparatus, the poorest countries, the refugees etc. etc. shall all rest on how many and which economies are able to pick up and set the ball rolling earlier than the rest.
There is also the geo-political impact in terms of blame-game that has already ensued, and which may increase tensions worldwide. Even if a country officially shall choose to not blame any other, the undercurrents of hostility may run deep. As for instance, a violent clash erupted on 31 st March between the local Nepalese and the Chinese workers in Nepal. In Japan, while officially the government has not criticized China, there are reports of establishments such as eateries putting up hostile signs and refusing to cater to Chinese customers. Similarly, whether the member nations of EU shall embrace the losses of and volunteer to share the economic woes of Italy, Spain & France, or will the border-free travel zones be hit remains to be seen.
Additionally, if the economic realities prove to be much harsher than what we are apprehending, strategists might very well deliberately stoke terrorism, extremism and dormant-lying feuds in a bid to keep attentions of the masses at home diverted and to start filling up the empty coffers with an increase the sales of arms world-wide. The oil- driven economies of the Gulf are also hard-hit with the demand for fuel and prices of oil plunging very low. This means the region is now vulnerable to rhetoric, tensions and wars! In fact, some big powers may be compelled to instigate an escalation of conflicts.
However, one writing on the wall which is crystal clear is: threats to national and universal security may not be military in the years to come and in fact, not likely to be military at all. The threats shall be economic, and the trigger could be a cyber-crime or a virus or water or even an idea!!
Author: Navniit Gandhi
Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academician, freelance writer and an author. She is presently working as Faculty, IGNOU, Kuwait Center.