The US must protect its citizens from disease while starting the urgent work of planning for a new epoch
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has warned coronavirus could cause global economic doom that could last for generations if appropriate measures aren’t taken. Kissinger, who served under President Nixon and President Ford, wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal on Friday, issuing a dire proclamation that ‘failure could set the world on fire’.
The 96-year-old believes the White House has done ‘a solid job in avoiding immediate catastrophe,’ but adds the government needs to work efficiently and in a farsighted manner to beat the disease, not only to regain Americans’ trust but the world’s trust.
Kissinger writes: “When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed. Whether this judgement is objectively fair is irrelevant. The reality is the world will never be the same after the coronavirus.” He says the US needs to work quickly to find a cure, pitch in to rebuild the global economy and protect the ‘liberal world order’, adding “not even the U.S. can in a purely national effort overcome the virus.”
Kissinger acknowledges the shortfalls, writing: “Medical supplies are insufficient to cope with the widening waves of cases. Intensive-care units are on the verge, and beyond, of being overwhelmed.
“Testing is inadequate to the task of identifying the extent of infection, much less reversing its spread. A successful vaccine could be 12 to 18 months away.”
To beat the virus, Kissinger writes the US needs to work with the rest of the world, saying, “the necessities of the moment must ultimately be coupled with a global collaborative vision and program.” He offers three steps the US needs to take in order to work toward beating coronavirus and then stabilising the economy, the first being finding a cure or treatment for the virus. Kissinger writes: “We need to develop new techniques and technologies for infection control and commensurate vaccines across large populations.
“Cities, states and regions must consistently prepare to protect their people from pandemics through stockpiling, cooperative planning and exploration at the frontiers of science.”
The next step is to “heal the wounds to the world economy”. He points to the 2008 financial crisis, saying current conditions are even more complex – due to the virus’ global scale, schools closing down, restaurants shuttering and social distancing practices. Kissinger writes special programs need to be developed to help fix the damage of those most affected by the shutdown.
Lastly, Kissinger writes the principles of the liberal world order need to be protected, noting that an enlightened government believes it should provide ‘security, order, economic well-being, and justice’. He writes: “The pandemic has prompted an anachronism, a revival of the walled city in an age when prosperity depends on global trade and movement of people.
“The world’s democracies need to defend and sustain their Enlightenment values. A global retreat from balancing power with legitimacy will cause the social contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally.” (Taken from wires)