AMERICANS CONTINUE to suffer the ravages of COVID-19, but America’s human and economic losses have not fundamentally changed the global balance of power. Instead, after the “plague year” of 2020, the United States is paradoxically in a much stronger position. The revisionist powers are not on the verge of displacing the United States. Indeed, through their truculence and aggression, they have created regional blockings against them. nato stands more robust against the Russian Federation than in the past and America’s European allies are more inclined to view Beijing in negative terms. Asian countries are banding closer together and with America, given China’s belligerence in the South China Sea and along its disputed frontier with India. In the Middle East, the Gulf Arab states and Israel are drawing closer together to thwart Iran’s malign influences.
Predictions that Russia or China would take the lead in the fight against the pandemic—especially in the provision of a vaccine—have not panned out. Instead, countries around the world are clamoring for forging new trade, technological, and health alliances with the United States. Coronavirus has created a geopolitical window for renovating America’s position in the international system—one which Washington should exploit.
Nikolas K. Gvosdev is a Professor at the Naval War College and the Editor of Orbis. The views expressed here are his own.
Ray Takeyh is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Last Shah: America, Iran and the Collapse of the Pahlavi Dynasty.