How are the pandemic and the measures taken to contain it affecting the international order, geopolitical structures, and strategic thinking? To investigate this question, the author focuses on the vulnerability and resilience of societies. Modern societies are vulnerable to pandemics because they are dependent on global supply chains and their populations have a certainty-oriented mentality. The resilience corresponding to this specific vulnerability is a combination of self-sufficiency, resources for the economic revitalization of shrunken economies, and social cohesion to counteract increased centrifugal forces. Meeting this threefold requirement is likely beyond the capabilities of (European) nation states, and is only possible in an economically interdependent and politically integrated “greater region”. This leads to the thesis that the pandemic will slow the trend for globalization and promote the emergence of regional orders.
Furthermore, three broad models can be filtered out from all the various forms of government action to contain the pandemic. These can be regarded as the main strategic alternatives: the Chinese-East Asian, the Anglo-American, and the West European-German model. They compete with each other in terms of effectiveness and the role they play for others as a model and role model. This competition between different models is all about limiting vulnerability and increasing resilience. It is likely to encourage the emergence of regional orders with their own values and norms, guiding ideas and rules – at least if the pandemic threat does not remain just a passing episode but occupies a central place on the political agenda in the future.