The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a global health crisis, it has now become the newest front line in an escalating competition in which revisionist powers seek to undermine U.S. global standing and leadership.
With China appearing to have contained the spread of the virus as the United States and its European allies are seeing cases surge, the Chinese Communist Party has pivoted to exploit the worldwide crisis to its benefit—and some observers think it will succeed. Beijing is using propaganda to discredit the United States and extending offers of assistance to afflicted hotspots to catalyze its own soft power capabilities. Russia is also portraying itself as a capable and responsible actor while Iran heaps blame for its coronavirus outbreak on Washington.
The current moment, however, is not without opportunities for the United States. China’s already weak economy is likely to suffer from any global economic downturn. The deeply unpopular Iranian regime has further proved its incompetence and disregard for its citizens throughout Iran’s tragic surge in cases. The creativity and entrepreneurialism of the U.S. private sector make it better positioned to develop solutions for and recover from the pandemic than its authoritarian competitors. At the same time, the long U.S. history of generosity in helping improve the health of other societies should continue in the current crisis.
Hudson experts Eric Brown, Michael Doran, Blaise Misztal, and Nadia Schadlow discussed how the novel coronavirus pandemic is shaping strategic competition, how it might impact the global balance of power, and how the United States should respond.