Global security paradigms have shifted dramatically as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Politicians, social commentators and thinkers are actively discussing what has now become the greatest threat to humanity, suprassing even terrorism in terms of the global concern it has inspired.
Humanity has survived wars and pandemics for ages, albeit sometimes at horrendous costs. However, no matter how bad things have gotten, a balance was eventually restored and maintained. There is no doubt that the Covid-19 crisis will also come to an end, despite how hard it already is for many of us to imagine. At this point, governments are preparing not only to manage the Covid-19 crisis, but also for the geopolitical, economic, technological, sociological, cultural and demographical re-shaping sequences of the post-Covid-19 era.
On January 20, 2018, former US Defense Secretary James Mattis declared that “the fight against terrorism is now replaced by the great powers competition” emphasing alleged threats to the United States from Russia and China. In 2018, the world entered into a new phase. During the short-lived unipolar world order (the Washington Consensus era) after the Cold War, the United States declared the global war on terror (GWOT) in response to the September 11 attacks, using the tragedy to advance its own imperialistic objectives and interests. The new paradigm was intended to reshape global geopolitics by establishing an artificial threat of terrorism which would be created by the United States and its close allies themselves, bankrupting and bringing chaos to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. The GWOT has been reduced from a geopolitical paradigm to a strategic/tactical one: it has become an active tool in ongoing proxy wars of World powers. Today, the world geopolitical environment is primarily shaped around the US-China and US-Russia rivalry which has a host of different dynamics.
Some believe that the Covid-19 pandemic is not significant enough to affect the global geopolitical paradigm or change it on its own. The world has always coped with pandemics: the Spanish Flu had broken out during the last year of the First World War yet it did not affect the geopolitical outcome of the conflict. Covid-19 on the other hand will unquestionably change the global economic and political paradigm radically. The neo-liberal capitalist system will need to be replaced by the Keynesian statist and populist economic models. The fight against civil disorder during the coming recessions and economic crises will play an important part in developing new internal security paradigms. The military will likely have to be deployed in order to assure stability in many countries. On January 31, 2020,The US Secretary of Defense’s Northern Command (NorthCom) even issued an order authorizing the takeover of the civilian administration if necessary.
Major changes are generally slow in coming when we look at things on a geopolitical scale. For example, the current US administration dumped $2 trillion into its market to try to save the collapsing service sector. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has deployed the National Guard to maintain order in some areas. Despite that the current economic crisis seems like it will be worse than the 1929 Great Depression, the US continues to pressurize Iran and Venezuela, placing new rounds of sanctions and deploying carrier groups in the Arabian and Carribean Seas. NATO, despite the risk of growth of the pandemic and quarantines and curfews being declared across the world, has still not canceled the Defender EUROPE 20 military exercises. All of this goes to show that despite the pandemic, geopolitical priorities have not changed.