COVID-19 crisis. Can governments and institutions rise to the challenge?


Radical pragmatism: policymaking after COVID (Gertz + Kharas)

Contemplating a world after COVID, some are calling for a reset of existing models of policymaking. In this essay the authors outline shortcomings in existing neoliberal economic models, and argue that the radical pragmatism of effective crisis response—a willingness to try whatever works, guided by an experimental mindset and commitment to empiricism and measuring results —represents a policymaking model that can and should be applied […]

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Global order in the shadow of coronavirus: China, Russia and the West (Lowy)

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a harsh spotlight on the state of global governance. Faced with the greatest emergency since the Second World War, nations have regressed into narrow self-interest. The concept of a rules-based international order has been stripped of meaning, while liberalism faces its greatest crisis in decades. In this Lowy Institute publication, the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI)'s Bobo Lo argues […]

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Crises only sometimes lead to change. Here’s why. (Sheri Berman)

"The coronavirus pandemic won’t automatically lead to reforms. Great upheavals only bring systemic change when reformers have a plan—and the power to implement it". In this essay, Sheri Berman analyses historical crises and suggests why they may produce or fail to produce transformational change. The essay has a US focus and deals with the potential for systemic change to follow the coronavirus pandemic crisis, but […]

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The challenges of the post-pandemic agenda (Jean Pisani-Ferry)

There is a growing possibility that the COVID-19 crisis will mark the end of the growth model born four decades ago with the Reagan-Thatcher revolution, China’s embrace of capitalism, and the demise of the Soviet Union. The small government, free-market template suddenly looks terribly outdated. Instead of regarding growth as the ultimate solution to inequality, advanced economies will need to tackle distributional issues head on. […]

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The global order after COVID-19 (Stephen Walt)

The COVID-19 crisis will not produce a dramatic and enduring increase in global governance or significantly higher levels of international cooperation. Instead it is likely to reinforce divisive trends; to accelerate a retreat from globalization, raise new barriers to international trade, investment, and travel, and give both democratic and non-democratic governments greater power over their citizens' lives. The post-COVID-19 world will be less open, less […]

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Defence spending and plans: will the pandemic take its toll? (IISS)

That the Covid-19 pandemic will have an impact on defence ministries is beyond doubt, but can governments and defence ministries find a way to deal with the possible effects on military spending and resource allocations? One way or another, national governments and defence ministries will have to grapple with the immediate and extended effects of the pandemic on their countries’ military spending and resource allocation. […]

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How COVID-19 will reshape Indo-Pacific security (The Diplomat)

This article is one of a number of pieces circulating that usefully starts to ponder the effect COVID-19 will have on strategic relations in the Indo-Pacific. It presents one of the more comprehensive lists of possible effects. The narrow focus of the article, however, means two major results of the pandemic, a change in the relativities in economic power and a possible change in the […]

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The pandemic and the limits of realism (Seth A Johnston)

Realism is sometimes regarded as the foundational international relations theory. In this thoughtful piece, Seth A Johnston notes that realist scholars of international relations see the coronavirus pandemic as helping to validate the realist school of thought. But, asks Johnston, has the pandemic also exposed realism’s shortcomings as a source for successful policy? […]

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Who’s first wins? International crisis response to COVID-19 (EUISS)

Responding to the emerging narrative that the Covid-19 pandemic is not just a test for healthcare systems around the world, but an international contest for which country has the best political system, the EU Institute for Security Studies put this hypothesis to the test: did democracies really respond to the Covid-19 pandemic less swiftly than authoritarian systems – and if the determining factor is not […]

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Year of the rat. The strategic consequences of the coronavirus crisis (Bruno Tertrais)

How might the decline of globalisation affect the rise in authoritarianism and the risk of conflict? How might sovereignism and isolationism retard responses to the ecological and climate crises of the Anthropocene? By Bruno Tertrais | Published 6 April 2020 | Foundation for Strategic Research (Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique | France This pandemic is the perfect stress test for the contemporary global society – […]

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Lessons from a global crisis: coronavirus, the international order and the future of the EU (Pol Morillas)

The coronavirus crisis may turn out to be a bump in the road for recent international dynamics. After a period of hibernation in the major global economies, perhaps life will return to normal, the storm weathered thanks to stimulus plans, and the world will once again be flat and hyperconnected. Alternatively, coronavirus may be a turning point in the era of globalisation. […]

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Cultures of expertise and politics of behavioral science: A conversation with Erik Angner (Cambridge)

An interview Professor Erik Angner of Stockholm University as part of the Humanities and Social Change Centre at the University of Cambridge's series on expertise and COVID-19. Erik Angner is a philosopher and an economist writing on behavioral economics, economists as experts, measurement of happiness and wellbeing, Hayek, and the nature of preferences among other topics. Recently he has commented on the need for epistemic humility and the uniqueness of […]

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Sonia Sodha: Nudge theory is a poor substitute for hard science in matters of life and death

How appropriate is behavioural economics as a basis for making public policy? Sould it be called 'science'? What does the evidence tell us? Published in The Guardian on 26 April 2020, this article is a thoughtful contribution to the current debate about about the extent to which some government responses, notably that of the United Kingdom, have been influenced by behavioural science/economics, and whether this […]

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Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus

Yuval Noah Harari writes that ”[i]n this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity.” Professor Harari thoughtfully examines the issues around the rush to put in place technological surveillance-based responses to COVID-19 pandemic management, and governments’ pivot to nationalistic solutions to problems which are essentially […]

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Allan Behm: In times of coronavirus and climate change, we must rethink national security

The Australia Institute's Allan Behm writes that '[t]he wellbeing of both the citizen and the state is the goal of all sound public policy. Traditional security thinking fails to deal with the new security issues presented by global warming, and now, pandemics. These constitute existential threats to human security that are not amenable to solution by military forces. Yet they go to the heart of […]

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David McCoy: Faith in coronavirus modelling is no substitute for sound political judgment

David McCoy is a professor of Global Public Health and director of the Centre for Public Health at Queen Mary University of London. In this article published in The Guardian on 10 April 2020, he makes some important observations on the relationship between the scientific and non-scientific elements of COVID-19 decision-making; the inherent limitations of modelling – particularly when dealing with a novel virus about […]

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Evgeny Morozov: COVID-19 and the relationship of capitalism, neoliberalism and technology’s ‘solutionism’

In government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, Evgeny Morozov sees a 'feast of solutionism' being unleashed. [W]e can see two distinct strands of solutionism in government responses to the pandemic. “Progressive solutionists” propose that timely, app-based exposure to the right information could "nudge" people to behave in the public interest, while “punitive solutionists”, by contrast, want to use surveillance infrastructure to monitor and manage daily […]

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Blinded by ‘the science’: COVID-19 and the authority of science in public policy

There are important distinctions when it comes to the way governments claim to have been ‘guided by the science’ when justifying their approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ministers are not saying they are following a course of action because ‘an experimentally and observationally validated law of nature has been brought to my attention’. They mean that social scientists, based on some assumptions and suppositions, have […]

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EFF: The Challenge of Proximity Apps For COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Around the world, a diverse and growing chorus is calling for the use of smartphone proximity technology to fight COVID-19. COVID-19 is a worldwide crisis, one which threatens to kill millions and upend society, but history has shown that exceptions to civil liberties protections made in a time of crisis often persist much longer than the crisis itself. But it is not a given that […]

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Smithsonian: How and when will the COVID-19 pandemic end?

By Katherine J. Wu 27 March 2020 Faced with stopping a pandemic scientists have yet to fully understand, researchers simply can’t guarantee what lies ahead—or when life will return to a version of normalcy. Immunity is key. When enough of the global population becomes immune, SARS-CoV-2 will lose its infectious toehold, failing to find enough new, susceptible individuals to infect before leaving its current hosts. Two […]

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Peter Cluskey: Is ‘herd immunity’ a health policy or a by-product of spreading infectious disease?

In an article published 5 April 2020 in The Irish Times, The Hague-based Peter Cluskey focuses on the issue of 'herd immunity' in the Dutch context. Is “herd immunity” – the idea that a virus may be allowed to spread through a population at a controlled pace generating group immunity as it goes – a healthcare strategy or simply a by-product of the spread of […]

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Jamie Shea: The coronavirus – what could be the strategic implications?

Nearly a quarter of our way through the 21st century we have been fortunately spared thus far the devastating wars that blighted the previous century. Yet we have nonetheless experienced an almost uninterrupted flow of systemic shocks that have put Western democracies and the cohesion of our societies under massive stress… The coronavirus crisis is different and its consequences may well prove more long-lasting… Already some […]

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Damian Carrington: UK Strategy to address pandemic threat not properly implemented

The UK’s biological security strategy, published in 2018 to address the threat of pandemics, was not properly implemented, according to a former government chief scientific adviser. Professor Sir Ian Boyd, who advised the environment department for seven years until last August and was involved in writing the strategy, said a lack of resources was to blame. Other experts said there was a gap between pandemic […]

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