Opportunity for the U.S. to Show Global Leadership
U.S. State Department

Opportunity for the U.S. to Show Global Leadership

by Dan Aum and Elliot Silverberg
March 18, 2020

Dan Aum and Elliot Silverberg make a case that the United States and its partners have the opportunity for a renewed multilateral response to COVID-19 in this opinion piece published in the Straits Times on March 18, 2020. Read the first two paragraphs below, and link to the Straits Times (subscription required) for the full piece.

As COVID-19 spreads worldwide, some hear the death knell of the global order. Indeed, the international system seems to be faltering in its response, as leaders turn their attention homeward to contain the spread of the disease. But this transnational crisis presents the United States and like-minded partners with a unique opportunity to curb both the spread of the virus and the spread of fear-based politics around the world.

Several days ago, Foreign Policy ran a story predicting that COVID-19 could “be the nail in the coffin for the current era of globalization.” To be sure, the virus has thus far infected some 150,000 people in over 100 countries, providing ample ammunition to criticise the international community’s patchwork efforts to limit the virus’s spread. And growing support for nationalism and populism around the world—from the support of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union —indicates waning enthusiasm for globalisation. Some may even feel vindicated, believing that this crisis shows globalisation falling short of its promise to improve the quality of life.

While crises can build character, crises first reveal. And what has this COVID-19 crisis unveiled?…


Daniel Aum is the senior director for public affairs and director of the Washington DC office at the National Bureau of Asian Research.

Elliot Silverberg is a fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and a non-resident fellow in Korean studies at the Pacific Forum in Hawaii.