Do Pandemics Promote Peace? : Foreign Affairs


We summarise pieces published by foreign publications that are also relevant to the Indian audience in the International Eye section of the magazine. The longer version of this piece is published by Foreign Affairs and originally written by Barry R Posen.

Not everyone could afford to wage war when the costs are supposedly understood to be higher than the benefits. However, when one country gains a sharp edge over the other, the costs and benefits logic won’t stand.
Recently, analysts are concerned that with the pandemic, China’s influence will grow. This could create friction between U.S. – China relations. Yet Barry Posen, the realist scholar, believes, “What these analysts miss is that COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is weakening all the great power and middle powers equally. None is likely to gain a meaningful advantage over the others”.

There has been evidence where wars have created permissive conditions for diseases-“in the fought-over territories”. But the logic that epidemics cause wars evince less or no support

Posen argues in his article, “That sickness slows the march to war is partly because war depends on people. When people fall ill, they can’t be counted on to perform well in combat”.

Military establishments are the most vulnerable during pandemics. A case in point is the infections onboard U.S. and French aircraft carriers. Sailors, soldiers and airmen are at significant risk because they live in adjacent spaces.

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For Posen, the most crucial reason disease inhibits war is economic. We have seen every high and middle power’s economies getting affected, ruling out the prospects of military adventures. Even the Chinese economy is under enormous stress due to its export-oriented nature of the economy. The International Monetary Fund forecasts slower growth in China this year than at any time since the 1970s.

Since witnessing the break of the global supply chain, governments will likely try to reduce their reliance on imports. As a result, less trade would mean less friction among countries. Meanwhile, Beijing could be forced to table the Belt and Road initiative.

Here is the link to the original article for a deep read:

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