In the context of “Poltical Talks Series,” Department of Political Science and International Relations of Ibn Haldun University organized the “COVID-19 and World Politics” panel on April 17 at 21:00 local time of Turkey. The panel moderated by Enes Tüzgen, witnessed the participation of Assoc. Prof. Talha Köse, Head of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Ibn Haldun University, Prof. Eric Ringmar, Assist. Prof. Heba Raouf and Prof. Wahabuddin Raess from the International Islamic University Malaysia.
“If the uncertainty and changes are properly managed the risk of a conflict could be reduced”
Assessing the global and regional consequences of the pandemic on the international security and peace, Assoc. Prof. Talha Köse said “We have to know that this is a huge drastic change in the world of politics and in the history. I think the cooperation in managing the crisis is very important.”
Addressing the issue of creating a new world after the pandemic, Köse stressed that the impact of the coronavirus will accelerate the change rather than creating a completely new arrangement. “There is already certain transition in world politics, for instance there is a power transition from West (Europe and America) to Asia, which will be accelerated.”
“Also, there is an increase in the decline of the trust in the international institutions ‘European Union, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations and World Trade Organization (WTO)’ and in the domestic institutions such as health, education and economy” he added.
In his talk, Köse touched on the consequences of the virus on U.S. and Europe “Most of the conflicts in post-World War II happened in the peripheries, in Africa, in the Middle East and other parts in the form of cold and proxy war. With such a transformation, it is likely that Europe, the center of economy and politics, may also face real violent conflicts. There is polarization between different segments of the society ethnically and even on the class level. Especially in the west, in addition to insufficient services there is a problem of aging which will probably affect the West’s international competitivity in terms of trade.”
Assoc. Prof. Talha Köse ended his talk saying that “The source of pessimism is the decline of cooperation and leadership among international actors in facing this complex crisis. Unlike the previous crises in the post-world war era, coronavirus disaster is a multilayered crisis that increased unemployment, lead to decline in productivity and in world trade, which in its part will eventually affect politics and polarization all over the world. Another important transformation in people’s minds is that the world powers were unprepared to handle the pandemic in terms of health and employment.”
“Our traditions can protect us, may be even from viruses”
Professor Eric Ringmar, a lecturer in the department of Politics and International Relations at Ibn Haldun University, said that by going back through history the question “Is there a future for globalization after the pandemic?” can be addressed.
Stating that the virus is a byproduct of the exchange, Prof. Ringmar said “But it is not just products and ideas that we exchange, we exchange germs and viruses as well. In the Mongol Empire we have the black death Bubonic Plague dispreads along traders connecting China, India, Middle East and Europe when one-third of the population died. Throughout the Colombian exchange 80% of the population of America died because of smallpox and measles diseases.”
He summed up his speech by underlining that the solution stems from our traditions and societies not from individualism “With liberalism and individualism we are relying on markets in everything. Everything in our society has a price but nothing really has a value. All the solutions for the pandemic presuppose that we work together because virus is our contagious. In the absence of the vaccine, we save ourselves and others ‘society’ by staying at home and this is the engaging in protecting ourselves. Individualism and liberalism are terrible mistakes that mankind cannot afford.”
“Very often traditions are smarter than individuals because they don’t know about what happened before and what will happen in the future, but the traditions do because traditions have been around for long time. For instance, Denmark banned wearing the “Borqua” and it was illegal for woman there to wear it, but today that makes no sense because everyone in Denmark wear face covering. That shows that traditions know something that law makers in Denmark did not know!”
“Militarization of the discourse regarding the virus”
Giving an answer to the question “How did a virus disarm the states?” from a political theory perspective, Assist. Prof. Heba Raouf, the lecturer at the Alliance of Civilization Institution (ACI), said that “We know that the sovereignty is very much based on the notion of protection of the territory, and we know that sovereignty and territoriality are very much linked to each other.”
Raouf continued her answer by saying “At the first few weeks of the coronavirus, we witnessed the doctors stand in front of the presidents in different press conferences. Nevertheless, in the second month of the outbreak we saw presidents were trying to show up in the scene again to confirm that they are going to fight the virus because presidents realized that if they give in to the experts it would basically undermine the grip of government on the minds of people.”
Commenting on the statements of the media outlets using the term “war on the virus,” Assist. Prof. Raouf asked “Can armies win a war on virus?” “Why should we call the doctors the white army?” and added “This would result eventually in directing lot of funding to scientific research, to education, to national health systems which might be good news for some nations.” She concluded her talk saying “This war against the virus will actually have a lot of implications on redefining concepts and redefining sovereignty.”
“During the COVID-19, the U.S. still in the driving seat and China is just a challenger”
In his speech, Professor Wahabuddin Raees, from the International Islamic University Malaysia, tried to find an answer to the question “How will the pandemic shape great power politics?”
He stated that by the spread of coronavirus, China has become on the top of the USA’s enemies, which were before the pandemic terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, … etc. He underlined that there is a difference between the United States’ agenda and the businessman’s agenda, referring to President Trump, whose behaviors, according to Raees, are controlled by his own benefits.
Stressing that both China and the United States perpetrated mistakes, Prof Raees said “What China was doing at the beginning is hiding, no one knew about the virus. And then they started blaming the United States,” added Prof. Raees.
Raees concluded his speech by asking “Would China be able to develop parallel institutions which will be basically challenging economic military and health? China is not capable to penetrate into the system and the leadership is still in the hand of the USA.”
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