DESPARDES — Sweeping changes — political measures that once seemed politically untenable — have suddenly become viable and even necessary. These measures have gone global with global implications. Coronavirus pandemic did it, says Henry Kissinger and Mikhail Gorbachev.
The former U.S. Secretary of State’s diagnostic view of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it will forever alter the world order.
“The reality is the world will never be the same after the coronavirus,” said Kissinger in an editorial on The Wall Street Journal. “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 96-year-old politician added that when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed”.
“While the assault on human health will – hopefully – be temporary, the political and economic upheaval it has unleashed could last for generations,” he elaborated, adding that the liberal world order can be put at risk.
Together with my friends in the Forum of Nobel Peace Laureates we have for years been calling for a radical rethinking of international politics, says the former Soviet president.
“Over the past five years all we’ve been hearing is talk about weapons, missiles and airstrikes. But is it not clear by now that wars and the arms race cannot solve today’s global problems? War is a defeat, a failure of politics!”, Gorbachev says.
“Let me quote from out appeal adopted back in 2005: Focusing on meeting human needs and having a reverence for life are the foundation of human security. Excessive military expenditures actually breeds insecurity. Two areas where funds need to be channeled by the international community are education and health, particularly regarding the scourges of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis through both protection and prevention. What could one add to this? Just the name of the new dreadful disease.”
As of this morning, nearly 1.3 million confirmed cases of the virus has been reported globally, with over 71,000 deaths.
The political effects of the coronavirus outbreak will be transformative and long-lasting if the two personalities’ take on the matter are considered.
“Crises breed change,” historian Allan Lichtman of American University says. Put another way, “What crises do is they open up space,” says Julian Zelizer, a Princeton political scholar. “They create a huge public demand for someone to do something.”
“It takes something pretty dramatic to shake things up,” says David Kennedy, a Stanford University professor who has written deep accounts of the Great Depression and World War II, two of the most seismic events in Western history.