Changing the Global Marketplace

COVID-19 is reshaping the international landscape and geopolitics in a number of surprising ways.

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, addresses his remarks at a coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

COVID-19 has ground life in many places around the world to a screeching halt. It is unquestionably an event that will alter everyday life, in large ways and in small, for years to come.

It is a global health crisis; the one experts have been warning us about for quite some time. It is has had far-reaching financial consequences to local economies, small businesses, families; everyone.

There are more than a few ways in which COVID-19 may have changed the global landscape, but they aren’t all terrible.

COVID-19 and China

In the wake of COVID-19, China may well prove more willing to strike a trade bargain while the striking is good. The Chinese government’s poor early handling of the virus outbreak cost the rest of the world, as well as the Chinese people, valuable time in responding to the crisis. And in lost lives.

During the height of the crisis in China, just after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would be banning all travel from China, the Chinese government expressed a willingness to withhold critical medical supplies in retaliation.

Now, U.S. authorities- like officials in other countries around the world who have come to depend largely or solely on cheaply manufactured medical products from China- are scrambling to diversify their supply lines by moving manufacturing out of China. Permanently.

That isn’t the only reason U.S. and other international investors and companies might reconsider operations in China. American companies like 3M found their Chinese factories seized by Chinese authorities for crisis production.

The possibility of having your business assets seized by a foreign government does not encourage outside investment.

On the other hand, in the U.S. the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated some of the benefits of capitalism and a free market economy. While there are always depraved individuals and companies willing to confuse exploitation with commerce, private agencies and companies have been falling over each other to help.

President Trump has resisted pressure to force American companies to manufacture medical supplies during this crisis; as well he might.

There has been no need for him to do so; American companies have already risen to the challenge magnificently.

COVID-19 and the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

Coronavirus might also help advance a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Could the outbreak of a deadly disease really be the catalyst that finally pushes two generational enemies towards peace? Indeed, COVID-19 might succeed where decades of diplomats and governments have failed. Disease outbreaks and plagues do strange things to countries at war.

There have been encouraging signs of cooperation and good-will from both sides, of the like not seen since 2000, when the second intifada destroyed hopes for a new peace accord.

COVID-19 and Iran

COVID-19 has also greatly weakened an Iranian authority already greatly weakened by crushing sanctions and their disastrous recent shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane

While Iran has refused U.S. offers of help combatting the virus, Iran has been hit particularly hard. Though the state-controlled media has reported many deaths, most international health organizations suspect the true number may be much higher.

Mass graves can be seen from space and Iranian authorities have reluctantly admitted COVID-19 kills someone every 10 minutes in Iran. Even in the upper echelons of the Iranian government people have died from the virus in recent weeks.

The Iranian authorities inability to control this outbreak will not improve their standing with citizens who have already been expressing dissatisfaction with the government.

In a tightly controlled, authoritarian society like Iran’s, the powerful class can only retain power as long as the ruled believe their lives are better under that authority than they would be otherwise.

In the wake of COVID-19, the world will be changed. It is possible that not all changes will be for the worse.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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