It is often said that everything changes in a major crisis. But this is not quite right. The changes that happen seldom derive from the crisis itself, but from the acceleration of existing trends. So far, Covid-19 has similarly sped up and crystallised earlier tendencies. As a result, it is helping make the true state of affairs clearer. As the Economist Intelligence Unit concluded, the ‘coronavirus pandemic will not usher in an entirely new global order, but it will change things in … important ways … [and] bring to the surface developments that had previously gone largely unnoticed’.
In particular, three pre-pandemic features of international relations are being amplified and brought to the surface: the changing economic balance in the world; the unraveling of the post-1945 world order; and tensions between the advanced industrial nations.
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