Session 5: the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on American power and transatlantic relations
While nearly every country across the globe has been affected by the pandemic, and despite the fact that it did not originate there, the United States is officially the most affected country in the world by number of cases and deaths.
The outbreak hit North America a bit later, while Donald Trump’s administration repeated its confidence that it was a foreign-originating event, which would be contained and short-lived. In a surprising rebuttal of the perceived high potential of US research and medical services, and despite the reputation of such agencies as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health, Covid-19 has swiftly and devastatingly spread across the country from original clusters on the Pacific coast to the densely populated North-East and Northern Midwest and into the Deep South. While some haphazard directives originated from the Federal government, State and city authorities improvised their response with gradual lockdowns and industries found themselves in paralysis, ordering massive layoffs that has taken US unemployment to levels not seen since the catastrophic 1930s.
The pandemic hit the United States at an already delicate juncture, an extremely polarized political and social climate in a general election year, following the impeachment of Donald Trump, and a fierce primary battle among prospective Democratic Party candidates. The violence of the economic and social crisis upturns a situation which Donald Trump trusted to ensure his reelection, although the unequal and uneven prosperity of the US economic growth already masked some serious weaknesses.
The partisan and populist atmosphere prevalent for the last four years has been an impediment to mobilization to fight both the pandemic and the economic crisis, while the US tendency to try to shutter itself from the outside world has also featured. US defensiveness facing the rise of other powers, its damaged relationship with close allies in Asia and in Europe, and its turn away from working with multilateral institutions to which it used to contribute decisively, have added international problems to US domestic problems.
The webinar will discuss how Covid-19 has uniquely affected and put into question US power and leadership when facing this crisis, and is likely to leave a considerable mark on the country and on its foreign relations.
A graduate of the Paris Ecole Normale Supérieure and agrégée in English, Anne-Lorraine Bujon is Associate Researcher at IFRI’s North America program and a specialist in the political and cultural history of the United States. She is also editor-in-chief of the review Esprit.
Graduate of SAIS Johns Hopkins University, Hall Gardner is professor of international and comparative politics and international affairs at the American University of Paris. His research blends historical and theoretical approaches on international affairs, especially NATO and EU enlargement, the Soviet collapse and its impact on China and the global ramifications of the “war on terrorism”.
Personal Website: https://www.hallgardner.com/
Trained at Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities, Johanna Ralston is CEO of the World Obesity Foundation, after having led the World Heart Foundation, and been VP for Global Strategies of the American Cancer Society. Along with leading roles in these public health organizations she has served on advisory boards at WHO, WEF, Lancet, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is a Senior Fellow at the GCSP focusing on NCDs and global health security.
Dr Shea, currently professor of Strategy and Security at the University of Exeter and Associate Fellow at Chatham House, served prior to these on the international staff of NATO for 38 years, in particular as Spokesman and finally as Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. He has also taught the practice of diplomacy, international relations, crisis management and political communication at the College d’Europe, Bruges, the University of Sussex, American University, the London School of Economics. He is also Associate Fellow at the GCSP.
Professor Schwok holds the Jean Monnet Chair of Political Science in the University of Geneva’s department of political science and international relations. Focusing his research on European integration, Swiss external policy, international security and transatlantic relations, he is also the director of the MAS in international and European security jointly conducted by UNIGE’s Global Studies Institute and the GCSP where he is also a research fellow.
Trained at Sciences Po Paris, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Cambridge University, Dr Vallet was a lecturer and researcher in European, American and Russian history and politics and for ten years an adjunct professor at Sciences Po Paris. He is an Associate Fellow at the GCSP focusing on the role of historical narratives on international relations and conflicts.
Watch the live-streamed session