Decisive US leadership with allies needed for sustained economic recovery and security in wake of COVID-19

Washington, DC – April 23, 2020 – The Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security today released a major new strategy paper on the geopolitical impacts of the coronavirus: What World Post-COVID-19? Authored by former senior US intelligence analyst Mathew Burrows and strategist Peter Engelke, the report examines short-term threats and three scenarios that could manifest from the fallout caused by the pandemic in the years ahead.
“This is the first installment of the Atlantic Council’s significant new initiative, ‘Shaping the Post-COVID-19 World Together.’ I can think of nothing more important than mapping the potential outcomes of this crisis and helping to steer the world’s trajectory toward the positive ones,” said Atlantic Council President and CEO Fred Kempe.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the biggest shock in decades to the postwar order. For the past 75 years, the United States and its partners have led a rules-based system predicated on liberal democratic values, an open global economy, and multilateralist institutions. This order has not gone unchallenged, but the current pandemic threatens the system at large.
The scenarios presented in What World Post-COVID-19? depict three radically different futures, including one in which the unending coronavirus results in a Great Depression that even the best monetary and fiscal efforts by the major powers cannot prevent. This triggers an end to globalization and ramps up competition and conflict among the major powers. The second scenario shows how China becomes the winner despite having been the first pandemic victim, expanding its reach throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe. Finally, the report outlines a positive scenario in which the multilateralism of the post-World War II era is renewed under US leadership, centered around eradicating disease for all. 
“Our intent is to help policymakers manage the complex, volatile post-COVID world,” said Burrows, director of the Scowcroft Center’s Foresight, Strategy and Risks Initiative. “By understanding the risks and opportunities presented by the scenarios in this report, the United States and its allies can be more strategic in their-long term recovery planning.” 
This analysis is the first in a landmark series of strategy papers to be produced by the Scowcroft Center exploring the geopolitical implications of COVID-19 and outlining strategies for managing the pandemic’s impacts. 
What World Post-COVID-19? can be found online here. The site includes an expansion of the key themes in the report in addition to regional outlooks.
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Related Experts: Mathew Burrows and Peter Engelke