Corona Conversations #3: Perspectives on the United States in the Era of Pandemic


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In this edition of the Corona Conversations, Alex Cooley discussed several processes that have been undermining the liberal international order for the last twenty years, Donald Trump’s personal impact on these, and finally perceptions of the United States abroad in light of the country’s handling of the coronavirus. Andrey Sushentsov noted that things have changed less than might have been expected in a pandemic, and the major international players continue to act much as they did before it began. Arvid Bell pointed out that European views of “unilateral America” are not new and the sweeping changes that can follow after US elections are unsettling for those trying to craft foreign policy in other countries, while Americans often fail to realize just how closely scrutinized their domestic politics are by those in other countries. Alex Cooley and Andrey Sushentsov both believe that what is called for at this particular period of time by national governments is innovation, a reinvention of roles, and listening and contemplating rather than dictating and demanding and rehashing tried and true methods of behavior. When the topic of Russia-West relations was raised, Arvid Bell held the view that the current negative spiral benefits no one. Alex Cooley described how domestic American politics play a role in how American voters view Russia and China, but that there is still a surprising amount of (negative) consensus towards Russia regardless of the nuances which makes anything approaching another “reset” unlikely, even under a new administration. Andrey Sushentsov admitted to Moscow’s puzzlement over the state of American domestic politics at the moment, but shared Cooley’s assessment that Russian-American relations were unlikely to change much in the near future due to a variety of structural restraints. Finally, when asked to discuss “strongman” tendencies in contemporary American politics, Arvid Bell believed that this trend could be explained by American’s disparagement of their own institutions and the demotivation and polarization this has caused over time. The session concluded with Alex Cooley’s remark, “…we’ll have to wait and see.” 


Listen to the audio recordings here.