The Covid-19 pandemic is reshaping geopolitics. Escalating tensions between the United States and China are the clearest immediate-term outcome. But what about the long-term impact?

CSIS Risk and Foresight Group Director Sam Brannen asked four of his International Security Program colleagues to take the long view on how Covid-19 could affect geopolitics out to 2025-2030 and beyond.

Summary

  • Covid-19 has accelerated the transition to a more fragmented world order in which the future organizing principles of the international system are unclear.
  • Neither China nor the United States is positioned to emerge from Covid-19 as a “winner” in a way that would dramatically shift the balance of world power in its favor.
  • The economic effects of Covid-19 will increase downward pressure on U.S. and likely others’ defense budgets, which could affect the pace of force modernization.
  • The “Great Power Competition” paradigm in the most recent National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy inaccurately describes this new geopolitical environment.
  • In the new geopolitical environment, it is increasingly difficult for any single country to exercise its will, and multiple poles compete and cooperate.
  • U.S. alliances hold in this world, though allies more selectively choose where to align with the United States versus choosing their own paths.

Read the full commentary.