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Year of the Plague – 4 – Foreign Affairs Magazine calls for “the Unlikely” – but the necessary – U.S.-Chinese “team” leadership in the struggle to defeat the Coronavirus

March 22, 2020

Chinese communist party leader Mao Tse-Tung, left, and U.S. President Richard Nixon shake hands as they meet, Feb. 21, 1972. If they could do it, why not Xi Jingping and Donald Trump?

I rarely read Foreign Affairs anymore, the flagship publication of the Council on Foreign Affairs,  the informal intellectual-academic publication, source of soft power that for decades greatly influenced U.S. foreign policy. Teaching International Studies at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies for 23 years, it was something of a necessity. Over the years I found that, increasingly, I was learning little about the actual state of affairs in the world, that rather than intellectually leading on global cooperation – even within the context of U.S. hegemony – that it had essentially joined the neo-con fantasy of U.S efforts at world dominance through military power.

It had lost its way.

Then every once in a while… a flash of its former brilliance, a momentary sense of what its role in the world  could be…in cooperation with other global players.

Such is the article below which I will provide at the end of this blog entry.

Of course the article, written by Kurt M. Campbell and Rush Doshi, flies in the face of what is currently going on. It calls for U.S.-China cooperation in contrast to the current growing nasty ideological and security boxing match. It calls for a complete change in course for both countries towards one another, as a precondition for the global effort to eradicate the Coronavirus. Despite its “idealism” – ie., it is difficult to to imagine China and the Trump Administration coming together to fight the Coronavirus – the article makes some salient points, most especially that neither country is in a position to undermine the influence of the other. Each has levers to hurt the other and has used them with increasing frequency, ideologically or otherwise. In such a contest where there can be no winners a truce is a rational response, not just for China and the U.S. but for the world at large.

That is what is argued here and well argued at that.

Here and there I not that the article misses the point. It dismisses the Chinese assertion that the cause of the virus came from U.S. military biological and chemical laboratories. While I am not completely on board that this was the case, the mainstream narrative – which Campbell and Doshi seem to swallow whole – that the virus originates from the sale of bat internal organs at a Wuhan food market has never cut it from where I am sitting.

But then the world will come back to the question of the virus’ origins; there is no way around that. It is possible that when all the evidence comes in – that one way or another the U.S. will be terribly embarrassed. But for the moment what needs to be done is to reverse the course of this pandemic worldwide, to stop it in its tracks. This can only be accomplished by global cooperation in which the Trump Administration and the Chinese leadership find some modicum of common ground to cooperate with one another in the effort. By the way, the strongest point made below concerns the consequences for U.S. world leadership if the Trump Administration continues on its merry way.

I’m not read to renew my sub to Foreign Affairs but a few more pieces like this and who knows?

Please read: Foreign Affairs: The Coronavirus Could Reshape Global Order


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarge Cheever permalink
    March 22, 2020 4:08 pm

    What’s so fishy about Wuhan bats and probable about US military as a virus source–it would be great if you could elaborate on those points.    Sarge

    • March 22, 2020 4:40 pm


      For now let’s just hold in abeyance… let’s just give it a couple of weeks; I pretty confident as we shake the trees that the mainstream narrative on how this all started will, essentially collapse and another narrative – with evidence – will make its way to the surface. Right now it’s a kind of hunch…based on a history of other Trump lies…

  2. William Conklin permalink
    March 22, 2020 8:14 pm

    It would be nice to think that we could have leaders smart enough to unite against a virus instead of building weapons to kill each other.

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