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The Déjà-Vu Virus?

A century ago, in the immediate aftermath of World War I and the devastating Spanish flu pandemic, political leaders proved incapable of finding the right answers to the huge challenges they faced. In tackling the COVID-19 crisis, today's governments must not repeat those catastrophic errors.

PARIS – The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating three fundamental geopolitical trends: the rise of Asia, the decline of the United States, and the strengthening of Germany within Europe. Combined, these shifts may well prefigure the world of 2030. But, before then, political leaders must overcome the current crisis – and not repeat the catastrophic errors of a century ago.

Today, the future and the past seem to be colliding. Now that COVID-19 has brutally thrust much of the world into the digital economy, many people will not wish to return to the pre-pandemic world as if what we are now experiencing had been a mere blip.

The virus does not signify the end of globalization, but it probably is a bad omen for a certain variety of it. For example, will leaders still want to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos and mingle in a dense crowd of peers, rather than networking in ways that respect social-distancing norms in the face of a deadly virus?

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