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Dr. David Glancy assesses the geopolitical and geoeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis

On June 17th, Dr. David Glancy gave a webinar lecture on the geopolitical and geoeconomic issues that have arisen or could potentially arise due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lecture was moderated by Dr. Frank Marlo, the Dean of Academics at IWP.

About the Speaker

Dr. David Glancy is a professor of Strategy and Statecraft at IWP. He formerly worked with Booz Allen Hamilton on education technology issues with the National Intelligence University and taught with the College of International Security Affairs. Additionally, Dr. Glancy held positions at both the Department of State, where he served as a Senior Advisor for Political-Military Affairs, and the Department of Defense, where he was a policy analyst and advisor with the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Geopolitical effects of COVID-19

Dr. Marlo began the lecture by asking Dr. Glancy if he agreed with a recent report from the Council on Foreign Relations, which stated that we are approaching a time of “radical international uncertainty.” Dr. Glancy responded that while there are many ongoing conflicts in the world, that statement may be a bit strong. Expanding upon this question, Dr. Glancy then discussed the geopolitical effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

First, Dr. Glancy stated that “conflicts are going to continue;” this worldwide pandemic is not going to push the world into a state of universal peace. Moreover, one effect of the current crises is that countries are changing how they view “their vital national interests.” For example, in the realm of national security, many countries are and will be placing a higher emphasis on health security than in the past. Dr. Glancy also mentioned that there will be wider implications of the crisis, such as a rise in “nationalism and protectionism.”

The United States and China

After discussing the geopolitical effects of the crisis, Dr. Glancy began to focus on the United States and China. In his opinion, Dr. Glancy believes that the “global distribution of power” will not be very different in five years than it is now. However, he also stated, “I think this is actually going to accelerate the kind of dividing of the world into blocks between the U.S. and China.”

Furthermore, Dr. Glancy stated that he sees the increased use of “political warfare and propaganda influence” as political tools that are “here to stay and [will] [take] a prominent role” in politics, by affecting the formation of “international public opinion” and the interaction between countries. Regarding the competition conflict between the U.S. and China, Dr. Glancy mentioned that a Chinese diplomat reportedly stated, “The outcome was going to be determined by who has the most friends.” Moreover, Dr. Glancy discussed the reality of Chinese and Russian disinformation and how such disinformation is a source of vulnerability for open societies. He then touched upon the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming U.S. Presidential election and the European Union.

Geoeconomic effects of COVID-19

Transitioning to the topic of geoeconomics, Dr. Glancy stated that “everyone in the world is taking an economic hit.” He discussed the economic impact that the coronavirus is having on countries around the world, including a lack of remittances and tourism and major problems with acquiring debt as they strive to stay afloat. Dr. Glancy also spoke about how long-term unemployment may set countries back in their plans for growth and development, which could lead to a rise in poverty, crime, and trans-national threats. Additionally, there may be a growth in “economic nationalism,” in which countries attempt to form a more domestic supply chain to rely less on other countries. Finally, one of the biggest economic uncertainties is that of what will happen with the Chinese economy.

Concluding Statement

In the final minutes of the lecture, Dr. Glancy responded to some questions presented by Dr. Marlo, through which he recognized that there are national and international steps to be taken in response to the ongoing crises.

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