INTELLECTUAL REFLECTIONS ON POLITICS, DIPLOMACY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Edited by Gian Luca Gardini.
Professor of International Relations and Chair of International Business and Society Relations, Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.
President of the Scientific Committee, European Institute of International Studies.
First published 2020 by European Institute of International Studies Press Salamanca-Stockholm
European Institute of International Studies
Primusgatan 53, 11267 Stockholm, Sweden
Instituto Europeo de Estudios Internacionales
Av. Agustinos Recoletos 2. CP 37005 Salamanca, Spain
ISBN-13 978-84-09-21254-5 (English edition)
ISBN-13 978-84-09-21255-2 (Spanish edition)
The Covid-19 disease will certainly mark the history of the 21st century.
Before, after COVID. During the lockdown: the idea of the e-book.
“The idea was born during the lockdown, as soon as the terrible implications of the virus, in health and economic terms, became apparent. The book is a call for civil and social commitment, an encouragement to react positively in front of harsh circumstances. Ultimately, the book intends to promt a first discussion on how to improve the world we will live in after the pandemic.”
A collaborative e-book, full of food for thought
“The book is specific and holistic at the same time. It is specific because each author focuses on the impact of Covid-19 in their specific area of expertise promting rethinking in that sector. It is holistic because only by joining forces in several areas and disciplines – and from several perspectives - we can have a complete and accurate picture of reality.”
Some of your valuable contributions
“The book contributes to the current debates on Covid-19 and international relations both thematically and geographically. On the one hand, we discuss important topics such as international organisations, power shifts, digitalization, economic recovery or trade patterns. On the other we analyse the cases of the most affected countries such as the US, Italy, Germany or Brazil.”
In A framework for both analysis and reflection
“We invite the reader to think before acting. Paradoxically, the lockdown has provided us with a chance to make good use of unexpected quality time. This time can be used to rethink who we are, how we live and most of all who we want to be and how to get there. Education is crucial to spark an informed discussion on these questions.”
COVID versus frenetic modernity
“Covid-19 forced humanity to slow down. The negative sides of the pandemic concern deaths, illness and economic loss. Yet, a few weeks of slow down have demonstrated that a different life style and organization of society are possible. Less human mobility and activity has meant better environment, less stress, new modes of work such as home office.”
In Myths and realities of politics, policy-making and the state in times of Covid-19
“I try to show how difficult it is to be a politician and bear responsibility for the destiny of thousands or millions. Deciding under time and political pressure, and with limited information, is very difficult. In fairness, politics this time has reacted quite quickly. If it has also reacted well is a different question. What is certain is that the state is the subject that comes to the rescue of communities in times of crisis. It was so during the 2008 financial crisis, it is so now.”
Class or elite. Decision-making and decision-taking
“Decision making is a process, which may involve several stakeholders at several stages. Decision taking is a moment, the instant when decision is actually adopted after discussion and evaluation of options. The “taking” moment is by nature solitary or limited to a small circle. This is representative democracy. Decision making can and shall be inclusive. Decision taking often is not and cannot be so.”
“This is the first time in a century that a pandemic of such proportion has happened. We were not prepared. More and more voices now suggest that we had several warnings. This may be true, but in fairness those warnings were a minority. The unprecedented nature of the phenomenon also meant that there were not established protocols or procedures, which had to be created. This takes time.”
‘Our great ability as humans is not to change the world but to change ourselves’ – once Mahatma Gandhi said.
“Vasco Rossi says that too. Change and revolution start with ourselves. We are the first who should be willing to change. But change always brings benefits and losses. One should bear that in mind and be ready to sacrifice something for the greater good or a significant improvment.”
The role of the State
“It is crucial. History shows that no equal, fair and sustainable development is possible without solid institutions. States are and will remain the most relevant unit or institution of social organization. The state represents a community. We are and we make our states.”
The role of Citizens
“This is crucial too. States are not just bureaucratic machines but are made of people, like you, our readers and myself. Human capital is very important to the success of any society or group. Therefore, education, as well as national culture, do make a difference. Germany in this respect is a good example. High level of human capital and high performance of institutions. But this requires political will and significant investment in terms of not only financial but also human resources.”
In Covid-19 and the enduring relevance of political and IR theory
“Sometimes, political and international relations theories may seem disconnected from the lives of common citizens. They are not. They are more structured and analytical ways of addressing the same concerns that common citizens have. For instance, the debate on the need to help the countries most affected by Covid-19 in Europe but also to use that aid responsibly and effectively is well summarized in the IR debate between solidarity ands responsibility, which- in turn – reflects the current debate inside the European Union between the Northern and Southern states.”
Covid-19, the EU mobilisation and solidarity
“Precisely! Common citizens perceive that the EU is not doing enough. In Southern Europe, and especially in Italy, there is a widespread perception that the EU - and Germany - are almost detrimental to the Italian interests. This is not true. The EU has already mobilized more rersources to face the pandemic than the Marshal Plan did for reconstruction after World War 2. The EU has really done a lot but this information does not seem to reach its citizens.”
This edition closed on May 27, 2020
Post COVID geopolitics
“The situation has actually worsened. More and more countries are affected. The centre of the pandemic has moved from China and Europe to the Americas, both North and South. Perhaps this will not change geopolitics per se, but will amplify certain shifts that were already taking place. A loss of international command on the part of the US, a more assertive China, and a need for deep rethinking of the European integration process are among these significant changes and trends. Ultimately, this pandemic shows, like all crises, that the quality of leaders matter. Countries with reliable leaders have coped with Covid-19 better than those with controversial and erratic leaders. We all have a chance to select our leaders, that is participation in politics and elections. This is a call for individual responsibility too.”
Enjoy the reading!