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  • Author: Lorenza Errighi
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: If 2020 was the year of “mask diplomacy”, as countries raced to tackle the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and acquire the necessary protective gear and equipment, 2021 is likely to be remembered as the year of “vaccine diplomacy”. Growing competition between states to secure the necessary quantities of vaccines to inoculate their population has already become an established feature of the post-COVID international system and such trends are only likely to increase in the near future. It normally takes up to a decade to transition from the development and testing of a vaccine in a laboratory to its large-scale global distribution. Despite current challenges, the speed of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns is unprecedented. To put an end to the current pandemic – which in one year has led to the loss of 2.6 million lives and triggered the worst economic recession since the Second World War – the goal is to ensure the widest immunisation of the world population in a timeframe of 12 to 18 months. In this context, COVID vaccines emerge as instruments of soft power, as they symbolise, on the one hand, scientific and technological supremacy and, on the other, means to support existing and emerging foreign policy partnerships and alliances with relevant geopolitical implications. From their experimentation in laboratories, to their purchase and distribution, the vaccine has emerged as a significant tool for competition between powers, often associated with the promotion of competing developmental and governance models across third countries.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Health, Vaccine, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Vedran Džihić, Paul Schmidt
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In societies devastated by the pandemic, the EU needs to leave its conventional tool-box behind and urgently speed up the Europeanisation of its neighbours in Southeast Europe. The coronavirus pandemic has deepened the vulnerabilities affecting Western Balkan countries and exposed the weakness of their state institutions, especially in the health sector and social protection. At the same time, related to the limited effectiveness of the EU enlargement process over the past years, the progress of reforms has stagnated and some countries have even experienced concerning regressions in the rule of law. The outbreak of the coronavirus crisis has meanwhile increased the presence of other geopolitical players in the region, mainly in the context of competition over vaccinations, not only of China but also of Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Awareness is growing that the EU and the West is not the only available partner. As other powers not known for their democratic practices use or misuse the Western Balkans to promote their interests, the vision of a free, democratic and truly European Balkans is no longer self-evident.
  • Topic: European Union, Institutions, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Nicoletta Pirozzi
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Union is struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has swept through European societies and economies, causing more than 500,000 deaths (and counting) and a GDP downturn of –6.4 per cent in 2020. This is the third big crisis – and possibly the most dramatic – to impact the EU over the last 12 years, following the economic and financial crisis in 2008– 2010 and the extraordinary influx of migrants arriving on European shores in 2015–2016. All these crises produced asymmetrical consequences on the member countries and citizens. The already marked differences among member states have been exacerbated, making a unified response by EU institutions difficult in the process and suboptimal in the outcome. Indeed, especially during the first wave of the pandemic in Europe, the actions and statements of national leaders revealed a deep rift within the EU and the Eurozone, leading to nationalistic moves in border control and the export of medical supplies. Citizens were therefore exposed to the negative consequences of a Union with limited powers in sectors such as health and crisis management. Meanwhile, important decisions such as the approval of the Next Generation EU package and the new budget for 2021– 2027 risked ending in failure due to the opposition of some member states.
  • Topic: Regional Integration, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Julius Caesar Trajano
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Marine plastic pollution has worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic. Nuclear technology provides a sustainable and scientific approach to tackling this environmental problem. Can it help Southeast Asian countries battle plastic pollution?
  • Topic: Environment, Science and Technology, Pollution, Pandemic, COVID-19, Nuclear Energy
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Jose M. L. Montesclaros
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: With vaccines not expected to fully roll out until 2024, lockdowns remain a critical priority to save lives today. February 2021 marks the end of a year of COVID-19, and the opportunity to re-visit and improve the way lockdowns are implemented in the year ahead.
  • Topic: Pandemic, ASEAN, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: C. Anthony Pfaff
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: As is well known, then acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly fired Captain Brett Crozier, captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, after he wrote a letter arguing that all but ten percent of the crew should disembark the ship to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Doing so, he acknowledged, would diminish the carrier’s readiness and slow its response time in a crisis. Justifying that decision, however, he argued, “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”1 The problem for the captain, of course, was not the content of the letter as much as it was the subsequent leak to the San Francisco Chronicle. Setting aside the fiasco that resulted in his firing, and led to Modly’s sudden resignation, 2 the captain raises some important concerns regarding what the risks sailors, soldiers, airmen, and marines3 should be required to take in peacetime. Because it is peacetime, he argues, “[W]e … cannot allow a single Sailor to perish as a result of this pandemic unnecessarily.”4 Of course, even in war no one should die unnecessarily; however, the captain raises a good question: “what risks are necessary in peacetime?” To answer that question it is first important to understand what risks are necessary in wartime
  • Topic: War, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Risk, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: John R. Deni
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Over the last month, an array of analysts and experts has attempted to ascertain what the post-pandemic world might look like from strategic, policy, or institutional perspectives. Several of these assessments feature dramatic predictions of a new world unlike what existed just months ago. It’s reasonable to expect change following a global crisis, but the near breathlessness detectable in some of these analyses evinces a lack of nuance or an appreciation for stasis. Moreover, few of these or other analyses have addressed the implications in a transatlantic context, or suggested specific mitigation steps. This brief essay reflects a more balanced attempt to fill these gaps, identifying recommendations for the US Army and Department of Defense to leverage the crisis and mitigate the damage across the transatlantic community.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Transatlantic Relations, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Steven Metz
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: As the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the United States, the Army is simultaneously providing extensive support to civil authorities and maintaining readiness to perform its deterrence and warfighting missions. Eventually the current crisis will subside but the United States and its Army will not simply return to the way things were before. The pandemic has unleashed great change within the United States and the global security environment, accelerating forces that will, in combination, be revolutionary. As Dmitri Simes put it, "If ever the modern world faced a “perfect storm,” this is it. The combination of a deadly and highly infectious virus, an emerging worldwide economic depression, the collapse of global governance, and an absence of a coordinated and effective international response—all have contributed to a tragedy of historic magnitude, one that will not be easily overcome." While it is impossible to predict precisely the course of any revolution, it is important to assess the likely or possible direction of change. Given that, this discussion paper suggests some of the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the US Army and recommends one or more senior leader steering committees the Army should undertake once the immediate crisis is under control.
  • Topic: Security, Army, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mr. Nathan P. Freier, Robert Hume, John Schaus
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The Department of Defense (DOD) needs to re-institutionalize horizon scanning for “strategic shock” and integrate this perspective into its strategy, plans, and risk assessment. Defense-relevant “strategic shocks” are disruptive, transformational events for DOD. Though their precise origin and nature are uncertain, strategic shocks often emerge from clear trends. Shocks are often recognized in advance on some level but are nonetheless “shocking” because they are largely ignored. Too often, rapid strategic shock catches the DOD off guard because leadership fails to account for it. To be sure, accounting for shock is a value judgment. Many may actually see what ultimately becomes a shock well in advance. However, readying for shock requires leadership to understand a contingency event’s potential for strategic-level hazard. Failing that, and once confronted with shock, leadership frequently mischaracterizes it as defying reasonable prediction and prior planning.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Army, COVID-19, Strategic Planning
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: John Schaus, Mr. Nathan P. Freier
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to over three million confirmed infections and more than one hundred thousand dead globally. In the United States, over sixty thousand people have died and more than 1 million have been infected. According to epidemiologists, this is only the first phase. Thus, near-term “success” against the outbreak reflects a current snapshot in time, not necessarily a permanent outcome. In light of our very preliminary understanding of the long-term impact of the outbreak and national-level responses, there are discernible trends about how countries’ responses are impacting their standing in key regions and around the world. Few regions offer such stark contrast in stories as the Indo-Pacific. In that region, South Korea is up, China is down, and the United States is out. These shifts may or may not endure. What is increasingly clear, however, is that ineffective responses—perceived at home or abroad—will limit policymakers’ freedom of action for some time to come.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Armed Forces, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Christopher J. Bolan
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: It is worth approaching an assessment of the likely impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Middle East with a strong dose of humility. Nonetheless, it is clear that the spread of this disease has already had major impacts on the global economy, drastically reducing demand for Middle East oil exports, and leading to a historic collapse in oil prices. The immediate challenges of dealing with the monumental health and economic challenges posed by COVID-19 will add to the troubles of a region already burdened by multiple civil wars, poorly performing economies, growing civil discontent, and intensified sectarian divisions. This article offers a preliminary assessment of the potential impacts of COVID-19 on the security landscape of the Middle East and advances recommendations for how US military strategy and operations might adapt.
  • Topic: Security, Oil, Military Strategy, Economy, Exports, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Isaiah Wilson III
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Almost no more need be said. This is not the traditional “monster” America prepared to destroy. But, it is the monster we face. The coronavirus, COVID-19, typifies the “compound” nature of today’s security threats. This deadly adversary is inimical to accepted international laws and conventions regarding warfare and human security protections. It is a true omnivore, respecting no borders and consuming all classes, genders, races, and faiths. This adversary has driven mass societal disruption and managed in about four months’ time to infect over 1.2 million (confirmed cases) with nearly 72,000 deaths, in the United States alone. Worldwide economic recession, even depression, seems likely and national publics now question their governments’ capacity and will to contain the adversary. Should governments fail to do so (most experts agree that the opportunity to contain COVID-19 is lost), big-data computer projections predict as many as 173,000 could die in the United States by the end of May 2020. The yet untold damage from such a toll across all sectors—political, economic, and societal—is incalculable. The potential for a global paradigm shift in the way we should perceive these threats is real. Some may ask, why speak of combatting a global pandemic as though we are waging an epochal war? This moment takes the popular fashion of war rhetoric beyond the metaphorical: We are at war against this virus…or at least we should be. We should regard this threat and its compounded implications as the security issue it is. COVID-19 is indicative of the changed nature of many of today’s threats.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Matt Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is going to change military recruiting. Recently, the Army and its sister forces have been forced to recruit virtually and have slowed processing through basic training. The Army has been vague about its recruiting goals, instead focusing on end strength, so it will not have to deal with the fanfare of missing its mission as it did in 2018. But the virus and its effects will actually help recruiting in the future. There was a storm gathering for recruiters, as the number of target youth would decrease in the years 2026-2031—a result of a decreased birth rate through the 2008 financial crisis and its fallout. Competition was going to be fierce with businesses and higher education. The virus changed everything.
  • Topic: Education, Military Affairs, Army, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: C. Anthony Pfaff
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: There has been a great deal of speculation regarding how the current COVID-19 pandemic could affect civil-military relations in the United States. Oona Hathaway observes that after the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001, which killed approximately three thousand Americans, the United States “radically re-oriented” its security priorities and embarked on a two-decadelong global war on terror that cost $2.8 trillion from 2002 to 2017. Given that COVID-19 could kill more than one hundred thousand Americans, she argues that it is time to re-orient those priorities again.1 Of course, simply re-orienting security priorities by themselves will not be transformative. Nora Bensahel and David Barno, for example, argue that diminished defense budgets resulting from shrinking revenues will make less funds available to maintain expensive forward bases and legacy weapons programs. Moreover, they argue, the increased sense of vulnerability will give the National Guard and reserve components a greater priority than active forces given their more prominent role in addressing the current crisis.2 They are probably right that these things will occur. However, a smaller active force and an empowered National Guard and reserve components will not fundamentally alter the role the military plays in American society. That kind of transformation requires not only taking on new missions, but more importantly, taking on new expert knowledge. Since a profession’s status is contingent on a distinct body of expert knowledge, and the autonomy to apply that knowledge within a given jurisdiction, prioritizing human security will require developing expertise in more than the use of force. Doing so will shift the military’s focus from lethality to the prevention, or failing that, the alleviation of suffering, potentially blurring the lines between military and civilian realms. Of course, such an outcome is not inevitable and the US military has played a role in disaster response before without re-orienting its security priorities. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may prove a pivotal moment but not simply because of reduced funding for military expenditures or increased vulnerability to pandemics. Diminishing external security threats, due in some part to the effects of the virus, coupled with increasing demand to assure human well-being both in the United States and abroad, could lead to a rethinking of the military’s role in American society. This rethinking could include the redistribution of roles between the military, civilian agencies, and other organizations, which extends beyond simply decreasing funds spent on defense.
  • Topic: Security, Armed Forces, Pandemic, COVID-19, Civil-Military Relations
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Paul R. Kan
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is the byproduct of illicit global trafficking. Although COVID-19 was likely transmitted to humans via pangolins sold in the wet markets of Wuhan, China, these markets acted as mere way stations for the virus. The natural habitats of the pangolins are the forests, grasslands, and savannahs of Africa. But, through a network of impoverished local communities, poachers, transnational organized crime, gangs and corrupt officials, approximately 2.7 million of this endangered species are captured and smuggled to Asia every year. The pangolin has earned the sad distinction of being “the most trafficked animal on earth.” The illicit global network of wildlife trafficking was a major facilitator of the pandemic, but the effects of the virus’ spread are, in turn, facilitating more criminal activities while creating the potential for greater internal instability in many states. The contagion-crime nexus has been overshadowed by the urgent need to combat the spread of the virus. Nonetheless, COVID-19 is acting as an amplifier for crime and conflict that will have repercussions in the international security environment in the near and long term.
  • Topic: Crime, Trafficking , Conflict, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Global Focus
  • Author: Dr. Evan Ellis
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic will have profound and enduring negative effects on Latin America and the Caribbean, significantly impacting the security, interests, and strategic position of the United States. Department of Defense and other US senior leaders should begin planning now to mitigate or manage the consequences. The effects of COVID-19 on Latin America and the Caribbean, as in many other parts of the developing world, will be far more significant than is commonly anticipated for two reasons. First, the virus will likely play out across the region over an extended length of time owing to a variety of factors discussed later. Second, the pandemic’s mutually reinforcing health, economic, social, and political effects will combine to wreak far more havoc than anticipated in analyses that only consider disease propagation or effects on commerce. Together, these two dynamics of COVID-19 will leave a Latin America that is far sicker, poorer, beset by crime, violence, social unrest, and political instability than today. It will also leave a region with expanded People’s Republic of China (PRC) commercial presence and political influence, even while being more resentful of it.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Caribbean
  • Author: William Braun
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare several long-dormant vulnerabilities, and opportunities, associated with US national security and military business practices. Military leaders must consider political context when making resource prioritization decisions that attend to these new perspectives. Three controversial political themes dominate the national security dialogue in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. First, the nation’s initial focus will likely be on the economic recovery effort, while incorporating preparations to mitigate the reemergence of COVID-19 or a future pandemic. Second, the nation may experience a prolonged period of austerity, possibly combined with greater taxation, to recover COVID-19 related mitigation debt. Finally, because of these first two issues, defense budgets are likely to experience cuts. Defense spending is the only viable discretionary spending category subject to belt-tightening measures amid the divisive political gridlock and vitriol of a highly contentious election year. Emerging analysis suggests the probability of economic stagnation, uneven sector and state economic recovery, mounting national debt, and political infighting in the shadow of a contentious election will underpin these themes. However, analyses of military implications are less developed. Military resource prioritization choices are often biased by traditional justification reasoning and conventional force management assumptions. Arguments defending these choices may not adequately account for the influence of domestic political agendas, structural power pressures, or the military’s culture. This paper will examine domestic political trends, their potential military implications, and offer a few defense management arguments to augment traditional justification reasoning. A future article will consider the influence of stakeholder’s structural power, the culture of the Army’s defense management enterprise, and their influence on arguments used to defend resource prioritization choices.
  • Topic: National Security, Military Affairs, Domestic politics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Matt Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will have significant implications for the military and the US Army. Some experts have suggested that massive budget cuts are likely and will force the Army to increase the size of the reserve components. After all, the reserve components have performed the majority of the military’s work during the pandemic, and have argued for years that they are a low-cost alternative to active forces. However, there are several reasons this should not happen—at least not without a major shift in America’s global military presence and a significant revision of our National Security Strategy. There is no doubt that the Army’s reserve components have played an important role in the nation’s coronavirus response. Over forty-six thousand National Guard troops have been mobilized across the country, and the Army Reserve mobilized over three thousand soldiers. This was most notable in the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces, which deployed to various cities in need of additional manpower. They have provided vital services and a visual reminder of the Army’s homeland responsibilities. The importance of their efforts have led some to suggest that the reserve components will become more important and that resources should be diverted to them or that their numbers should grow. After all, reserve units in reserve status cost less. The National Guard consumes 12 percent of the Army’s base budget, and the Army Reserve only a paltry 6 percent, the major savings being the full-time pay, additional benefits, housing, installation, training, and operations and maintenance costs required by their active counterparts.
  • Topic: Budget, Army, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Nathan Freier, Robert Hume, Al Lord, John Schaus
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: These are complex, turbulent, and uncertain times to be sure. The Department of Defense (DOD) is at an important inflection point. COVID-19 has irrevocably altered the dynamics of international security and reshaped DOD’s decision-making landscape. As a result, DOD will have to adapt to significantly different strategic circumstances post-COVID than those assumed operative in the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS18). We recommend that DOD recognize this to be true, seize the initiative, create opportunity from crisis, and recraft defense strategy to re-emerge from COVID as a stronger, more hypercompetitive institution. The past is definitely prologue in this regard. DOD’s current strategic circumstances mirror those of the immediate post-9/11 period. The wars that followed 9/11 forced a substantial strategic course correction on DOD. By 2003, it was clear that the azimuth set in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR01) was fundamentally compromised by the stark reality of the Iraq and Afghan wars and the wider “Global War on Terrorism.” There was corporate recognition at the time that the path described in QDR01 was not likely to position the American military for the demands of the post-9/11 environment. Just as war reshaped DOD’s strategic agenda then, COVID-19 will change the dynamics of great power rivalry and the defense choices associated with it going forward as well. By itself, we suggest this necessitates a thoughtful re-examination of the assumptions and approach described in NDS18. To use a pop culture analogy, DOD’s current situation is reminiscent of “Neo’s choice” in the dystopian movie The Matrix. In the film, rebel leader Morpheus offers protagonist Neo the choice of a red pill or a blue pill. The red pill extends to Neo an unvarnished view of “the matrix” and its broader and more difficult set of governing facts. The blue pill, on the other hand, returns Neo to his prior blissfully naïve existence plugged into a land of computer make-believe. The blue pill is all about doubling down on a comfortable yet already discredited past. The red pill offers Neo the opportunity to boldly enter a difficult but nonetheless transformational future. In the end (spoiler alert), Neo chooses red. Like Neo, DOD has its own difficult “red or blue” choice on the near-horizon. COVID forced the issue. DOD’s choice is between prudent risk-taking, transformation, and increased hypercompetitiveness (red) on the one hand, and status quo, steady decline, and inevitable loss of position in key regions and domains on the other (blue). As in the case of Neo, we suggest that DOD choose the former (red pill) transformational option.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Armed Forces, Strategic Competition, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dr. Jose de Arimateia da Cruz
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The global pandemic known as the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been wreaking havoc upon the world since it was first detected in Wuhan, China, at the end of December 2019. The disease rapidly spread to all provinces in China, as well as a number of countries overseas, and was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the Director-General of the World Health Organization on 30 January 2020. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) contends that the COVID-19 pandemic is having widespread economic, social, and political effects on Latin America and the Caribbean, a region with strong economic and political ties to the United States. Brazil has been particularly hit hard by COVID-19. It has become a global epicenter for the disease with the second most COVID-19 positive cases in the world after the United States. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro announced July 8, 2020, that he had contracted the virus.
  • Topic: Security, Pandemic, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America, United States of America
  • Author: Luis Montesclaros
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: While engaging in hoarding behaviour at the national level may seem like a strategic move in response to household hoarding amid disruptions in trade, doing so can potentially trigger a repeat of the 2007-08 food crisis.
  • Topic: Security, Health, Food, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Angelo Paolo L. Trias
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Governments around the world are deploying their military forces to respond to COVID-19. Militaries can be helpful in responding to emergencies and disasters because of their organised and unique capabilities. But how can the military be useful in the fight against the coronavirus?
  • Topic: Health, United Nations, Military Affairs, COVID-19, Disaster Management
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tamara Nair
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Around 90 percent of the world’s students are currently out of school as a result of the global pandemic. How prepared are we to face the fallout of having schools closed for this long?
  • Topic: Education, COVID-19, Health Crisis, Labor Rights
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: S. Nanthini
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Irregular migrants already struggling with poverty, displacement and discrimination, will be one of the hardest hit communities by the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing stigmatisation and a lack of resources, they are often overlooked in policy conversations despite their especially high vulnerability to the virus.
  • Topic: Health, Labor Issues, COVID-19, Migrant Workers
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Margareth Sembiring
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 outbreak disrupted our daily lives and impacted national economies. Amidst the virus turmoil, our natural surroundings have benefited from the slowdown. The global community needs to make a concerted effort to rethink our approach to economic growth to avert a climate crisis.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: S. Nanthini
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: COVID-19 has led to stricter border control measures the world over. This has had a particularly harsh impact on irregular migrants. As COVID-19 heightens their vulnerability, even as ASEAN meets in summit this week, this is an opportunity for ASEAN member states to support all those found within their borders.
  • Topic: Migration, Borders, Pandemic, ASEAN, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia
  • Author: Jose M. L. Montesclaros, Mely Caballero-Anthony
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Many economies have already started to re-open in spite of growing COVID-19 active cases, but it may be for the wrong reasons, and some may be premature. Analysing the healthcare and fiscal capacity of countries provides insights on framing the logic of re-opening.
  • Topic: Health, Economy, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mely Caballero-Anthony
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: As ASEAN economic ministers meet virtually this week to deal with, among other things, the severe impacts of COVID-19, their crucial task should be to strengthen multilateral cooperation. ASEAN should rally its dialogue partners and the private sector to make vaccines available to all. Can ASEAN centrality help push back the worrying trend of vaccine nationalism?
  • Topic: Vaccine, ASEAN, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Angelo Paolo L. Trias, Alistair D.B. Cook
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Recent responses to natural hazards, conflicts, and the COVID-19 pandemic have illustrated a diverse and vast network of emergency and disaster responders. Militaries are vital to this network due to their unique assets and expertise, but research on how militaries connect and interact among themselves and with other actors is limited in Southeast Asia.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Military Affairs, Conflict, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Jose Montesclaros
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Given the credible threat of disease re-emergence and evolution, governments today should allocate resources to preventing future novel diseases, even as they face ‘wartime conditions’ in battling COVID-19.
  • Topic: Government, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Global Focus
  • Author: Lina Gong
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: An outpouring of international humanitarian aid to China has alleviated the severe shortage of key medical supplies in its fight against an outbreak of COVID-19. This highlights the role humanitarian aid plays in managing the risk of pandemics.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Humanitarian Crisis, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jose M. L. Montesclaros, Mely Caballero-Anthony
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The lockdown policies to fight COVID-19 have caused massive economic disruptions, seriously affecting poorer income groups that live on a hand-to-mouth existence. Policies to keep countries safe from pandemics must come with clear and timely social safety net programmes to protect these vulnerable groups.
  • Topic: Income Inequality, Social Services, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Alistair D.B. Cook
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: As more countries become affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to keep in mind vulnerable groups and those already affected by other humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, disasters and climate change placing them in acutely precarious situations
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Pandemic, COVID-19, Disaster Management
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Julius Caesar Trajano
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Many countries are still struggling to expand their testing capability to diagnose more potential COVID-19 patients amidst shortage of detection kits. A nuclear-derived detection technique recently developed by the IAEA may be a promising method if more widely used by governments around the world. This highlights the peaceful application of nuclear science in public health.
  • Topic: Pandemic, COVID-19, Nuclear Energy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Paul Teng
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: While COVID-19 has focused attention on the immediate danger of food shortages, it behooves small island states like Singapore to continue efforts to develop more stable and sustainable food sources. And to put in place public outreach programmes which inform on food and nutrition security.
  • Topic: Security, Food, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Singapore, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Christopher Chen
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: While people usually rely on the state in times of crisis, the scale and significance of the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates a more inclusive global response. Can the private sector step in to fill existing gaps in the current response?
  • Topic: Crisis Management, Private Sector, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Margareth Sembiring
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Migrant workers, especially those doing domestic work, cannot be ignored in the fight against COVID-19. The measures taken to contain the virus spread have left them even more vulnerable. But this may be an opportunity for a fresh look at providing for their protection.
  • Topic: Pandemic, COVID-19, Migrant Workers
  • Political Geography: Philippines, Hong Kong, Global Focus
  • Author: Mely Caballero-Anthony
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Averting the catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic requires no less than a coordinated and effective global response with the participation of all actors at multiple levels of governance. Asia must seize the opportunity to define its role in this endeavour.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Health, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Harvey Galper, Reehana Raza
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: On March 13, Kenya reported its first case of COVID-19, and an additional 649 cases were reported in the following two months. As the pandemic spreads, Kenya’s policymakers are facing the first significant challenge to the country’s nascent intergovernmental system and will have to prioritize how to spend the country’s scarce resources amid existing fiscal constraints. Established in 2013, Kenya’s decentralized government structure gives the country’s 47 counties the primary responsibility of delivering health care services to their citizens. But historical and geographical factors have led to substantial variation across counties in both health care capacity and risk of contracting the coronavirus. To make critical decisions to control the pandemic, Kenya’s policymakers will need not only accurate data on the spread of the coronavirus but also county-specific data and analyses on health care capacity and population risk. With such county-level data, the national government can flatten the curve and better allocate the country’s limited resources in line with individual counties' circumstances.
  • Topic: Health, Population, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Author: Matthew Eldridge
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Even as many developing countries are confronting the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are already bracing for the widespread, global recession that will follow. These countries already struggle to provide many services and supports to their citizens, and although the emergency assistance packages of international financial institutions are a start, they alone won’t be enough to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 and enable a strong recovery. Although most developing countries escaped the 2007–08 financial crisis with limited damage, for many, this economic downturn is expected to be much worse because of the direct health effects, the sharp decline in global economic activity, the structural composition of their economies, and constrained policy options.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nancy Davis Lewis, Jonathan D. Mayer
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Experience in Asia suggests that public health and medical capacity are critical for an effective response to an emerging infectious disease. Political will and previous experience with disease outbreaks also play a role. Singapore ignored an important segment of its population and is now experiencing a huge spike in cases. China and Vietnam were able to enforce draconian measures, while in Japan and Hong Kong, civil society had a greater role in initiating effective controls. In several countries, local political outcomes have been affected by the perceived success or failure of leaders in controlling the crisis.
  • Topic: Health Care Policy, Leadership, Crisis Management, Public Health, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong
  • Author: Christopher A. McNally
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: With both the US and China facing a long economic slowdown, the bilateral relationship between the globe's two largest economies faces massive challenges. Making matters worse, Washington and Beijing have attempted to divert domestic attention away from their own substantial shortcomings by blaming each other. Given the economic uncertainty, each side has limited leverage to force the other into making concessions. Harsh rhetoric only serves to inflame tensions at the worst possible time. For better or worse, the US and China are locked in a messy economic marriage. A divorce at this time would exact an enormous cost in an already weakened economy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: James H. Spencer, Sumeet Saksena, Jefferson Fox
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The current COVID-19 pandemic, which started in Wuhan, China, underscores what the public health community has warned about for more than two decades—the risk of viral diseases capable of spreading from animal to human hosts. The first outbreaks of “bird flu” (highly pathogenic avian influenza—HPAI, subtype H5N1)—raised similar concerns 20 years ago, concerns that have persisted with the outbreak of SARS in 2002–2004 and COVID-19 today. A recent study compared information on infrastructure and other aspects of economic development in Vietnam with outbreaks of avian influenza. While this research focuses on avian influenza in Vietnam, the study of links between infrastructure characteristics and new and reemerging health risks has broad applicability, especially given the global importance of today’s rapidly expanding urban landscapes.
  • Topic: Infectious Diseases, Urban, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Vietnam
  • Author: Emily J. Munro
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Prevention strategies warrant more attention and can be a framework to apply to situations with different levels of urgency. The cases of the Arctic, the Sahel and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate the value of prevention strategies in diverse ways. Anticipation is closely linked to prevention, and we should do more to understand how the future may unfold, and then act on the findings to help us to prevent crises and conflict. The interaction of issues often lies at the centre of the policy challenges we face today. It is necessary to unpack these interactions in order to strengthen our responses. Surprises cannot be entirely avoided, but we should place more emphasis on considering the implications of crises and ensure better integration of our approaches across the short, medium and long term.
  • Topic: Crisis Management, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Sahel, Arctic, Global Focus
  • Author: Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The North Korean government response to the coronavirus has been extreme, but prudent and reasonable in context. It has closed the border to China almost entirely to both goods and people though surely some transports are still getting through. No travel is allowed to or from China although there must be exceptions to this rule as well. The state (under the banner of the Red Cross, whose branch in North Korea operates as a government entity) has dispatched people around the country to inform people about the virus. No reports have been confirmed at this time of writing, but exile journalists based in South Korea have reported several deaths from the virus from North Korea. Its actions have been blunt and all-encompassing, mainly because the state lacks the necessary capacity to act differently. North Korea doesn’t have the sort of equipment required to monitor people coming from China or to test people at the pace required.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Authoritarianism, Border Control, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Felix Chang
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which arose in China and swept around the globe, has devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands. But however large the health impact of COVID-19 ultimately is, hundreds of millions more have already felt its economic impact. With people worldwide ordered to social distance and stay at home, entire industries have been shuttered. And though national economies will recover in time, fully restoring them may prove to be a slow process. No doubt, the longer the disease lingers, the longer an economic recovery will take. That could create one more economic casualty: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Coronavirus, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Yaroslav Shevchenko
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China are certainly the two most prominent authoritarian regimes in the world today, with their quasi-alliance characterized as an “axis of authoritarians” and portrayed as a major threat to the West and global liberal democracy. However, despite unmistakable similarities that exist between Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia, the reality is far more complex. Their respective responses to the COVID-19 crisis shed some light on differences between the political-governance models of these two countries.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Economy, Crisis Management, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Matteo Villa, James F. Myers, Federico Turkheimer
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: In an ongoing epidemic, the case fatality rate is not a reliable estimate of a disease’s severity. This is particularly so when a large share of asymptomatic or pauci-symptomatic patients escape testing, or when overwhelmed healthcare systems are forced to limit testing further to severe cases only. By leveraging data on COVID-19, we propose a novel way to estimate a disease’s infected fatality rate, the true lethality of the disease, in the presence of sparse and partial information. We show that this is feasible when the disease has turned into a pandemic and data comes from a large number of countries, or regions within countries, as long as testing strategies vary sufficiently. For Italy, our method estimates an IFR of 1.1% (95% CI: 0.2% – 2.1%), which is strongly in line with other methods. At the global level, our method estimates an IFR of 1.6% (95% CI: 1.1% – 2.1%). This method also allows us to show that the IFR varies according to each country’s age structure and healthcare capacity.
  • Topic: Health, Pandemic, Data, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, Global Focus
  • Author: Matteo Villa
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: COVID-19’s lethality in Italy is a highly discussed figure. When compared with other major countries, Italy’s 9.9% case fatality rate (CFR) as of 24 March 2020 is the highest by far. But relying on this figure is misleading. By itself, the CFR tells us almost nothing about COVID-19’s plausible lethality (infected fatality rate, or IFR). On the opposite, recent studies place China’s IFR at 0.7%. By relying on this figure, ISPI’s best estimate for COVID-19’s plausible lethality in Italy is 1.1%. The gap between the IFR and the CFR figures can be largely attributed to the number of infected persons that have not been tested and, therefore, escape counting. ISPI estimates that the number of active cases in Italy is at around 530,000 as of 24 March 2020, or almost ten times larger than the official count of 55,000 active cases. This paper shows that the CFR is an unreliable indicator of COVID-19’s plausible lethality, and there is not enough evidence to suggest that Italy’s IFR is much higher than expected. On the opposite, a direct comparison between the CFR and the IFR is much better placed to paint a more realistic picture of the evolution of the ongoing epidemic.
  • Topic: Health, Pandemic, Data, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Tom Rhodes
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: While there is never a good time for a country to face an epidemic, it could not come at a worse time for a country in transition like Sudan. Prior to the first cases of the coronavirus confirmed on 13 March, the country already faced a humanitarian and economic crisis. In February, the inflation rate was at 71% and prices were double those cited in 2019, according to the US-funded food monitoring body, the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS). The Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peace-building Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the UN Security Council recently that Sudan’s humanitarian needs were severe, with 9.3 million people needing aid by the end of 2019.
  • Topic: Economy, Humanitarian Crisis, Transition, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan