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 more widely, not only in times of crisis.

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Economic diplomacy in the era of great powers (Linda Yueh)

The inability of the major powers to set new global rules has had a detrimental impact on an international system under significant strain. Linda Yueh argues for a new approach to economic diplomacy that considers not just economic considerations, but also broader foreign policy aims, greater transparency, and a pluralistic approach to global rules to strengthen the multilateral system.

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How the IMF and World Bank turned a pandemic into a public relations stunt (Walden Bello)

Serious calls for reform at the World Bank and the IMF first emerged 50 years ago. After 50 years, the absence of change in either policy or intellectual paradigm has been paralleled by the glaring lack of reform in the governing structures of the Bretton Woods twins. Perhaps this is the time for developing country governments to begin exploring an exit strategy? The IMF and the Bank would like the global South to believe that they are indispensable. They are not.

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Moving away from the China-America binary (Alan McCormack)

Whether it is the West’s relative decline or the “rise of the rest,” the Eastward shift of geostrategic gravity is a reality. That reality presents major ideational and institutional challenges to the West’s domination of the international order. The challenge for international relations theorists and policy-makers is to demonstrate that Western-framed status quo versus revisionist analysis provides a disinterested assessment of “non-Western” institutional initiatives.

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Point of no return: the 2020 election and the crisis of American foreign policy (Thomas Wright)

A victory for the incumbent will represent crossing a “tipping point”, beyond which “alliances may come to an end, the global economy could close, and democracy could go into rapid retreat”, Thomas Wright writes in a comprehensive analysis of the likely future foreign policy direction under either a Joe Biden or Donald Trump presidency. This is an important and informative analysis by a well-credentialled and intelligent observer of the contending camps struggling over foreign policy in the US.

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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 that it’s time to rethink global governance and its priorities.

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Southeast Asian diplomacy: consistency is not always a virtue (AIIA)

As a contiguous big country, China is always going to enjoy significant influence in Southeast Asia. But for precisely the same reasons, China is also always going to evoke anxieties. Countries on China’s periphery will therefore not allow themselves to be hemmed into an exclusive relationship no matter how dependent they are on China. Having lived in the midst of great power competition for centuries, the strategic instinct of Southeast Asia is not to align with any major power across all domains.

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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 the analysis could also help in understanding why the global warming crisis is failing to produce transformative change on the scale that is needed.

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Science, solidarity and solutions needed on climate change (UN)

Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are at record levels, and emissions that saw a temporary decline due to the pandemic are heading towards pre-COVID levels, while global temperatures continue to hit new highs, according to a major new UN report. UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized that there is “no time to delay” if the world is to slow the trend of the devastating impacts of climate change.

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