birdsall6_Drew AngererGetty Images_USprotest Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Citizens of the World, Reunite!

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced destructive nationalism, but it has also highlighted the necessity of international collaboration. Global-minded citizens – starting in the United States – must now push their governments to cooperate and support multilateral institutions.

WASHINGTON, DC – The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the world into a dangerous state of disequilibrium, in which the siren call of populist nationalism and the clear, compelling necessity of global cooperation and collective action are locked in (literally) mortal combat. Sadly, nationalism is winning so far. But global-minded citizens everywhere can, and must, fight back – starting in the United States.

In the decades following World War II, America played the role of (mostly) benign global hegemon. Its economic and military supremacy gave it a clear interest in establishing and maintaining the rules of the game for international cooperation and collective action. For that reason, the US took the lead in establishing institutions such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (formerly the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade).

But with US power and influence now waning, at least relative to China, President Donald Trump’s administration has reverted to isolationism. With minimal domestic political pushback, Trump has introduced aggressive anti-immigration measures, pursued a trade war with China, and refused to collaborate with G7 allies and the G20 to address the pandemic’s economic fallout.

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