Like other recent systemic crises, the coronavirus pandemic has confronted us with an inconvenient truth: the risks associated with international openness might very well outweigh the gains. If today's multilateral frameworks are to have a future, they must be brought back into the service of national sovereignty.
BERLIN – As Winston Churchill once observed, too many people who “stumble over the truth” will “pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” But in the case of COVID-19, the world has been confronted with uncomfortable facts that are impossible to ignore. Like the 2008 financial crash and the 2015 refugee crisis in Europe, the pandemic has fully exposed a deep vulnerability to systemic threats.
The ultimate role of the state – the very meaning of sovereignty – is to provide its citizens with adequate protection from existential risk. Yet globalization appears to have undermined the modern state’s ability to cope with low-probability, high impact scenarios. Just as the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States forced people to rethink security, the COVID-19 crisis compels us to take a fresh look at how we manage interdependence.
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