Foreign Policy: How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

Foreign Policy journal asked twelve “global thinkers” to answer the question of How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic. Each author’s response is relatively short for Foreign Policy, but there are a dozen so the whole thing isn’t short. The answers are sometimes opposed to each other, so take away what you will.

Like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the coronavirus pandemic is a world-shattering event whose far-ranging consequences we can only begin to imagine today.

This much is certain: Just as this disease has shattered lives, disrupted markets and exposed the competence (or lack thereof) of governments, it will lead to permanent shifts in political and economic power in ways that will become apparent only later.

To help us make sense of the ground shifting beneath our feet as this crisis unfolds, Foreign Policy asked 12 leading thinkers from around the world to weigh in with their predictions for the global order after the pandemic…

The pandemic will strengthen the state and reinforce nationalism. Governments of all types will adopt emergency measures to manage the crisis, and many will be loath to relinquish these new powers when the crisis is over…

The coronavirus pandemic could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of economic globalization...

The COVID-19 pandemic will not fundamentally alter global economic directions. It will only accelerate a change that had already begun: a move away from U.S.-centric globalization to a more China-centric globalization...

The nationalists and anti-globalists, the China hawks, and even the liberal internationalists will all see new evidence for the urgency of their views. Given the economic damage and social collapse that is unfolding, it is hard to see anything other than a reinforcement of the movement toward nationalism, great-power rivalry, strategic decoupling, and the like…

COVID-19 is undermining the basic tenets of global manufacturing. Companies will now rethink and shrink the multistep, multicountry supply chains that dominate production today…

The international system will, in turn, come under great pressure, resulting in instability and widespread conflict within and across countries…

The result could be a dramatic new stage in global capitalism, in which supply chains are brought closer to home and filled with redundancies to protect against future disruption…

I would expect many countries will have difficulty recovering from the crisis, with state weakness and failed states becoming an even more prevalent feature of the world…

Click here to read the entire article at Foreign Policy

 

Warnings of Coronavirus Riots/Civil Unrest

A variety of people/outlets are warning of imminent civil unrest because of lockdowns/job loss/lack of food/etc. resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and government responses.

Express: Coronavirus riots to erupt ‘at any moment’ as Red Cross warns cities face ‘social bomb’

Europe has seen a substantial increase in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in recent weeks, as the continent accounts for over half of the world’s 601,520 cases. Italy, Spain, Germany and France are Europe’s worst-hit countries, with Italy surpassing China’s total confirmed cases and death toll this week. The shocking figures has prompted one Red Cross official to warn an eruption of social unrest across Europe’s biggest cities is imminent.

Francesco Rocca, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) told a United Nations news briefing: “We have a lot of people who are living very marginalised, in the so-called black hole of society.

“In the most difficult neighbourhoods of the biggest cities I am afraid that in a few weeks we will have social problems.

“This is a social bomb that can explode at any moment, because they don’t have any way to have an income.”

He warned the risk of suicide is increasing among vulnerable people forced to isolate on their own…

The Organic Prepper: It’s Only a Matter of Time Until COVID-19 Lockdowns Lead to Civil Unrest and Violent Crime

The United States of America is basically closed for business, leaving citizens jobless, broke, and without options. We’re facing restrictions on movement the likes of which our nation has never seen. The stores that are open have never fully restocked after the “panic buying” of previous weeks, leading to shelves barren of things like meat, flour, toilet paper, and rice.

It’s only a matter of time before these issues combine to become the flashpoint that leads to an explosion of civil unrest and violent crime.

The financial situation

Unemployment skyrocketed, with 3.3 million claims last week, and the Fed estimates that number to climb to a whopping 47 million due to the virus. Many of these jobs may not come back after the Covid-19 virus has run its course through the nation – businesses small and large are going to be defaulting on their April rent payments, and many simply won’t be able to catch up later.

So far, a lot of people in the area where I’m staying seem to be treating this break of business like a surprise staycation. It’s nice to see families out walking together, playing games, and spending time with the people they love.

But this happiness may be shortlived. Despite generous government-mandated disaster pay, unemployment, and stimulus checks, the money may not arrive in time for former employees, self-employed people, and gig workers to pay their personal bills. And when the money does arrive, for many folks it isn’t going to be the same amount they were earning before the shutdowns. Most people don’t have emergency funds, so things will be dire in short order.

Of course, this affects landlord, mortgage companies, utility companies, retail businesses…the list could go on and on…

Foreign Policy: The Coronavirus Could Topple Governments Around the World

…The consequences will be very different in countries where political institutions are weaker and where the illness or death of a leader has been known to generate the kind of power vacuum that might inspire rival leaders, opposition parties, or the military to launch a power grab. This is a particular problem in countries where checks and balances are weak and political parties don’t have strong decision-making mechanisms, which is true in parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and post-communist Europe. According to the researchers Rodger Govea and John Holm, 61 percent of leadership transitions in Africa are “unregulated,” and many of these episodes have resulted in a political crisis.

In countries where politics are more personalized, the death of a leader can trigger damaging succession battles that can split the ruling party and, in the worst cases, encourage a military coup. It is therefore extremely worrying that senior political officials and leaders have also contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in countries such as Burkina Faso, Iran, and Nigeria—countries that are already unstable gerontocracies…

Silver Doctors: Looting, Riots & Civil Unrest Are Coming To The US, Will Be Much Worse Than Asia Or Europe

It’s par for the economic collapse course.

Last week we got some “reports” of riots (protests?) coming out of China:

This week, civil unrest is taking place in Italy, and to think, the United States is just a little bit behind Italy.

In Italy, however, with a more or less disarmed population, the riots have so far have been without major violence, or at least that’s what can be gleaned with a minimal internet search.

That is to say, the Italians are talking about snatching a bag from somebody walking home from the grocery store, but it’s not like the victim is stabbed and left to bleed to death, or worse:

The victims in Italy basically lose their groceries.

It’s unlikely the bag snatching in the US will go over as smoothly as it has in Italy, for reasons we’ll get to in a moment…

Fox 5 NY: Store owners boarding up buildings across Manhattan

…The businesses have taken the unsightly measure in an effort to defend against the potential for civil unrest caused by the coronavirus and a lack of officers on the streets…

Zero Hedge: Lockdown-Backlash Begins: Angry Crowd Surrounds Capitol, Demands Michigan Governor Reopen Economy

WOOD-TV’s Heather Walker provides coverage from within Operation Gridlock as people use their cars to lockdown streets around the Capitol building. Walker interviewed several Michiganders, who are fed up with the public health order and want the economy to reopen. Many said they could make their own health decisions and don’t need the government to tell them what to do.

Some protestors were dressed in body armor, wielding AR-15s.

The Daily Reckoning: Worst Recession in 150 Years

Yet even this three-system analysis I just described (pandemic > economy > politics) does not go far enough. The next phase has been little noticed and less discussed.

It involves social disorder. An economic breakdown is more than just economic. It leads quickly to a social breakdown that involves looting, random violence, fraud and decadent behavior.

The Roaring ’20s in the U.S. (with Al Capone and Champagne baths) and Weimar Germany (with riots and cabaret) are good examples.

Looting, burglary and violence in the midst of a state of emergency are the shape of things to come.

Zero Hedge: America On The Brink? Shocking Images Show “Pennsylvania Militia” Rolling Up To “Reopen America” Rally

America could be standing on the edge of a revolution. Seriously, well, with National Guard troops deployed across the country, any uprising would likely be squashed.

We noted late last month that a “social bomb” was set to detonate over major Western cities. It was thought that the epicenter of unrest could begin deep within inner cities, such as those in Baltimore and Detroit, but that might not be the case.

It appears tensions are soaring among anti-quarantine protesters and state governments. The lockdown backlash started last Thursday in Lansing, Michigan…

Gatestone Institute: US Policy on Iran Heading in the Right Direction

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-born scholar, political scientist, and foreign policy expert, has written an article over at the Gatestone Institute in which he says that President’s Trump forceful stance on Iran is the right policy for checking the dangerous regime.

Gatestone Institute: Thanks to the President, U.S. Policy Heading in the Right Direction

The critics of President Trump’s Iran policy have been proven wrong once again: Not only have the US sanctions imposed significant pressure on the ruling mullahs of Iran and their ability to fund their terror groups, but in addition, President Trump recently ordered a game-changing military attack that killed both Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near the Baghdad airport.

According to the US Department of Defense, Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

The unexpected death of Soleimani should be regarded as a severe blow to the ruling mullahs. When it comes to authority in the Islamic Republic, Soleimani was considered Iran’s second man after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A staunchly loyal confidante to Khamenei, Soleimani enjoyed enormous influence over dictating the Iranian regime’s foreign policy. Soleimani was not bragging when he wrote in a message to US Gen. David Petraeus:

“… you should know that I, Qassem Suleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who’s going to replace him is a Quds Force member.”

Soleimani was appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader to be the head of the Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), almost two decades ago. The Quds Force is tasked with exporting Iran’s ideological, religious and revolutionary principles beyond the country’s borders.

As the leader of the Quds Force, Soleimani was in charge of extraterritorial operations, including organizing, supporting, training, arming and financing predominantly Shiite militia groups; launching wars directly or indirectly via these proxies; fomenting unrest in other nations to advance Iran’s ideological and hegemonic interests; attacking and invading cities and countries; and assassinating foreign political figures and powerful Iranian dissidents worldwide.

The Quds Force fomented unrest in Iraq by providing deadly, sophisticated bombs, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that killed many civilians and non-civilians, including Iraqis and Americans.

Under his leadership, the Quds Force was also accused of failed plans to bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in the US, and to assassinate then-Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel Al-Jubeir. An investigation revealed that the Quds Force was also behind the assassination of Lebanon’s Sunni Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri…

Click here to read the entire article at Gatestone Institute.

Foreign Policy: The Coming Crime Wars

Foreign Policy recently published an article about future conflicts called The Coming Crime Wars. The article discusses how the number of non-state armed groups (that is, not an official army of a recognized country, but rather some other sort of armed group) is multiplying in civil conflicts around the world. Soldiers in these conflicts are with “drug cartels, mafia groups, criminal gangs, militias, and terrorist organizations” as well as official armies or rebel groups. So far governments are confused about how to deal with this complication.

In the classical view, criminal groups (such as mafias, gangs, and cartels) are not political actors formally capable of waging war. This means they can’t be treated as enemy combatants, nor can they be tried for war crimes. Yet, increasingly, such groups do advance tangible political objectives, from the election of corrupted politicians to the creation of autonomous religious states. What is more, they routinely govern, control territory, provide aid and social goods, and tax and extort money from the populations under their control. They also often collude with corrupt soldiers, police, prison guards, and customs officials to expand their rule. Put succinctly, cartels and gangs may not necessarily aim to displace recognized governments, but the net result of their activities is that they do.

Further, whereas the human cost of typical gang or mafia activity may be contained, the death and destruction that result from today’s crime wars are not. Millions of refugees and internally displaced persons have fled these gray-zone conflicts. But many of those who are dislocated are stuck in limbo, with most of them having been refused asylum, which—as codified in international refugee law, international humanitarian law, and by the International Criminal Court—is typically granted to people fleeing international and civil wars. Governments have typically been reluctant to recognize the dislocated as war refugees, because it would grant legitimacy to the crime wars. Yet with all the civilians killed and maimed, mayors and journalists attacked, families forced to flee genocide and disappearances, the violence generated by crime wars is indistinguishable from that generated by traditional war.

Crime wars are not going away…

This article echoes previous writings of authors like David Kilcullen who in Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla discusses some of the same issues. If you’ve done an area study for your location, you probably tried to identify local criminal groups or cartel activity. If this type of activity is having in civil disturbances around the globe, you can count on it coming to the US — if it isn’t already here.

The Pentagon made a video to highlight some of these issues as well, though it mostly discusses the difficulties in megacities.