Image Credit: an Italian flag hung outside of a window in Bologna, Italy with the slogan "Andrà tutto bene" ("Everything will be all right") and the hashtag #iorestoacasa ("I stay at home")
The American Interest

The Geopolitics of Coronavirus

“Nothing will ever be the same again!” The cliché is invoked whenever people think they are facing an event of metahistorical significance. Sometimes its use is justified: Sarajevo 1914, the Bolshevik Revolution, Hiroshima, and the fall of the Berlin Wall fit the phrase. More often it is not. Versailles 1919, JFK’s assassination, Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap,” Watergate, 9/11, Lehman Brothers’ collapse, and many other alleged watersheds eventually turned out to be less momentous than initially claimed.

Some turning points are not recognized immediately. The Bastille riot could have ended, a year or two later, like the Glorious Revolution did across the Channel a century earlier. Only with the horrors of 1792 did it become clear that “he who has not lived before the Revolution does not know the sweetness of life.” More recently, the impact of nuclear weapons on the grand-strategic thinking of the two principal Cold War adversaries took over a decade to mature.

There are megacrises which are immediately seen, initially by the lucid few, for what they are. The Guns of August hit an ostensibly well-ordered and stable world like a thunderbolt. “The lights are going out all over Europe,” Sir Edward Grey presciently remarked a day before Britain declared war on the Kaiserreich, “and they may not come back in our lifetime.” Arguably they never...

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