Both structural order and the emerging processes that guide it are on a path of acceleration. The international order is being conditioned by rising endogenous “processes” that allow the reconfiguration of power. In recent years, the transformation of the relationship between security, economy, technology, and health, has become a primary force driving issues of world change. South America must take note of the political and economic impacts that the pandemic has produced, so that it can develop a clear diagnosis of the future that awaits it. The publication of this op-ed marks the beginning of online collaboration between Valdai Club, Russia as part of its Think Tank project and CARI, Argentina. This is the first in a series of planned exchanges between the two organizations on bilateral and global matters. Stay tuned for more commentaries, videos and webinars in the days ahead.
The recurring question in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is whether the world of international relations will change after the pandemic disappears. However, order structures and the emerging processes that guide them have long been on a path of acceleration, rather than one of "change" or "continuity." Although the world will not be reconfigured immediately, it will not stay the same either.
As per economist Paul Krugman, we are living through strange days, or rather, difficult times. Episodes that make the international order wobble are becoming more and more recurrent. Within the framework of security, Al-Qaeda and ISIS converted terrorism into a virulent global player with no "postal code," and a new participant in international geopolitics. These organizations modified the traditional state military threat into an asymmetric one, where "states" face "non-states." With regard to the economy, the 2008-9 financial crisis was the corollary of a process of financialization that transformed capitalism into hyper-globalized, with high volatility and impact on the real economy. Health, on the other hand, is also an area of issue, as diseases and pandemics are now defined by a more visible and faster-acting type of threat. During the first quarter of 2020, the number of Covid-2 deaths has been higher than those of
HIV, Malaria and Influenza. In the United States, the coronavirus has caused in just four days the same number of deaths that occur daily from other conditions.
The truth is that today the world is virtually paralyzed: economies remain slow, companies continue to go bankrupt, and the lack of demand for labor is overwhelming - the U.S. and Russia, for example, add up to about 30 million unemployed. According to a report published by the International Labour Organization (ILO), by the end of April, around 68% of the world’s labor force resided in countries where restrictions or quarantines exist. Furthermore, 37.5% of the labour force is employed in disruptive risk sectors such as food, services, trade, manufacturing, and real estate.
In the meantime, even though politics seeks to answer all of the pandemic’s inconveniences, "anarchy" in international structures remains a constant. Not only will great powers not give in to the power dispute, as maintained by John Mearsheimer,
but will also deepen it, albeit in a more "tactical" way. These actors will seek to assert themselves, improving their relative position in the strategic-military and economic order, as we have seen with China and the US, or Iran and Israel. But today, in the midst of the pandemic, high doses of cooperation between states also remain Russia has sent sanitary aid to Italy and the US, and China has done the same with Europe and Latin America. In the diplomatic field, this cooperation is based on the construction of empathy and coordination in ad-hoc forums, such as the G-20 and the Organization of Petroleum Producer and Exporting Countries (OPEC). At times, however, states act by clashing interests, and seek to get away with it. During the health crisis, several countries have engaged in disruptive actions to save their populations, such as closing borders and contesting medical supplies. Some have also advanced cross-accusations, with the U.S. blaming China for allowing the virus to spread.