The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world but as in great movies of Alfred Hitchcock, these are only the first acts. Many countries are at the beginning of the fight but I’m confident that the world can handle it. The bigger problem that we have to start thinking about is the post-pandemic geopolitical landscape. The globe is going to a halt and world economies are suffering tremendous losses but this is just the beginning, as there will be no easy solution to jump-start the global markets. This will be a slow and painful process.
The crisis has shown us how vulnerable we are to disruptions in trade and goods deliveries.When China went into a lockdown many have discovered that without China nothing works as expected. For decades even the smallest bits of production were delegated to Asia and without the much-needed components, the developed countries couldn’t produce goods.
When the dust will settle one can expect that many of the top economies in the world will try to reshape the current delivery chains. This, in turn, might lead to bringing at least parts of the crucial capabilities back to local economies instead of delegating them to foreign partners offering cheaper labour costs. This move might, at least to some extent, influence many countries around the world as closing factories and bringing them back will hamper the local economies. We should not think about it as something wrong. The current situation was, and still is, abnormal as each government’s responsibility is to have the basic capabilities provided locally so in the event of another disaster a nation doesn’t have to look for basic help outside.
It is especially important in the medical sector as China is currently producing most of the important ingredients used in drugs produced around the world. COVID-19 outbreak in a region more heavily involved in producing key medical drug components could have an even more catastrophically effect than the currently observed. COVID-19 has also highlighted that every situation is a good occasion for manipulation. Both Russia and China are trying to position themselves as responsible countries helping nations around the world but the first reports from Italy start to show that much of that help is more of a propaganda stunt than a real relief. We can expect further escalation in the upcoming weeks and a plethora of state media influenced propaganda.
The war for people’s minds is supposed to position some countries for a better start in the post-pandemic world. Instead of seeing only the dark side of this situation, nation leaders should try to gather as many lessons learned and thanks to the conclusions twist this catastrophe into something that will help future generation to be better prepared.
Author: Dr. Krzysztof Kuska
The writer is editor and analyst in the field of military aviation, defense, modern warfare and security, military historian.