By James B. Steinberg
(Nikkei Asian Review | May 9, 2020) The international response to the COVID pandemic is a watershed moment in the evolution of the international order. At time when the value of global interdependence and international cooperation is already under assault from politicians and popular movements around the world, national leaders and international institutions face a fundamental test: can they turn back the growing tide of inward-looking, zero-sum policies to meet this critical challenge?
It would seem self-evident that the transnational nature of the threat, both to health and to prosperity, should trigger actions emphasizing international cooperation. Yet to an alarming degree, the response has been the opposite. For too many countries, the instinct has been to pull up the drawbridges and point fingers, seeking national solutions at the expense of international collaboration.
From the earliest days, China turned down offers of help from international organizations and foreign experts; refused to freely share complete information; and petulantly blocked Taiwan from World Health Organization emergency meetings.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, similarly, proposed banning travel, halting immigration and cutting off funds for the WHO, more focused on deflecting political fallout than developing an effective response … MORE
James B. Steinberg is University Professor of Social Science, International Affairs, and Law and an SPL faculty affiliate.