America has been hit hard by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. A combination of poor public health response, differing state guidelines, and lack of political leadership are leading the country into a third, deadly wave of the virus. Yet while the immediate prognosis is pretty dire, the long-term implications of COVID for America’s power potential – and its role in the world – are less clear, and likely less severe than initial assessments suggested. There have been no significant impacts to American military readiness, and while the economic impacts of COVID-19 could potentially undermine the long-term health of the American economy, this is far from a foregone conclusion. However, it is clear that the COVID crisis has largely served to highlight existing trends with the potential to undermine American power, notably political polarisation and domestic underinvestment.
Paper presented in a joint webinar on transatlantic relations by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik (DGAP), organised in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Compagnia di San Paolo, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Rome Office) and the US Embassy to Italy on 5 November 2020.
1. COVID-19 and American power: Limited direct impact
2. The underpinnings of American strength
3. An inflection point, an opportunity