In 1958, the Soviet Union proposed a global effort to eradicate smallpox, a disease that kills roughly a third of those it infects, including 300 million in the 20th century alone. On Dec. 9, 1979, it was completely eradicated. This public health triumph – perhaps the greatest in the history of mankind – would not have been possible without the efforts of the U.N.’s World Health Organization, which coordinated the immunization campaign. The magnitude of this achievement – removing a microbe from existence – cannot be overstated. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
Of all the major geopolitical players on the planet, Mother Nature may be the toughest adversary. Nature has neither imperatives nor constraints to guide its behavior. Rather, it operates off general patterns that occur under various conditions. While the patterns provide broad strokes of expected behavior, it strikes mostly randomly. Even predictable phenomena, such as the Atlantic hurricane season, tell us nothing about the magnitude and target of, or potential for, economic damage. A catastrophic Category 5 hurricane that misses major population centers is quickly forgotten; a milder Category 3 hurricane that decimates New Orleans has long-lasting consequences. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
History is biased, and not just because the victors tend to write it. The study of history is largely the study of humankind – specifically, the geopolitical events that have shaped human actions (and vice versa) over millennia. It’s true that to learn from the past, we must study ourselves. But what if we’re missing a large part of the story? What if Mother Nature plays just as large a role in shaping the course of human events as mankind? After all, any force that compels specific actions by nation-states is necessarily geopolitical. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
When a patient dies in a hospital, it’s not uncommon for doctors to convene what is known as a morbidity and mortality conference, the goal of which is to determine what went wrong and why. In the months and years following a national crisis, we engage in a somewhat similar process. Over time, official investigations are carried out, and political leaders, the media and the public initiate ad hoc debates meant to arrive at a general understanding of the primary cause of the crisis and what steps need to be taken to prevent something like it from ever happening again. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
When the coronavirus pandemic slows and allows us to catch a breath — both literally and figuratively — there will be an international reckoning that likely will end with China bearing the brunt of the blame. In order to force China to implement adequate safety standards, we should stop importing essential items, especially food, medicine and medical equipment, until the country proves that it can be a responsible member of the global community. Read the rest at USA Today.
All human institutions are political. This follows naturally from Aristotle’s observation that “man is by nature a political animal.” If one wishes to rise to the very top of one’s field, it is not sufficient to be competent. Instead, one must also be diplomatic, savvy and – when the time calls for it – brutal. Even the Pope had to step on a few miters on his way to the Vatican. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. But such measures can’t last forever, which is why mitigation is the only option. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
The political and economic effects of the new coronavirus – both in China and across the globe – hinge overwhelmingly on just how successful efforts to stop its spread are likely to be. Forecasting these, therefore, requires us to take a closer look at the mechanics of both contagion and containment. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
The biggest political and economic effects of pandemics come from public panic and panicked government responses, not the disease itself. Read the rest at Geopolitical Futures.
The British general election dealt a devastating blow to the Labour Party. The Conservatives have won the largest majority in Parliament since Margaret Thatcher’s reelection in 1987. Read the rest at The National Interest.