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A Foreign Policy for the Post-Pandemic World

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A Foreign Policy for the Post-Pandemic World

How to Prepare for the Next Crisis

Foreign Affairs,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

COVID-19 offers an opportunity for the revival of liberal internationalism. 

Editorial Rating



  • Visionary
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


The ideological competition between nationalist populism and liberal internationalism has dominated the political landscape for years now. With the election of Donald Trump, the former foreign policy ideology gained the upper hand in the United States. But as Michael Fuchs, a former assistant secretary at the US State Department under the Obama administration, argues, both the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 presidential elections might lead to change. A keen advocate of liberal internationalism, Fuchs explains why this approach offers the best outcome for the post-pandemic world.


Watershed moments can lead to lasting changes in a country’s governance structure and foreign policy strategy.

Key events can change a country’s foreign policy beyond what it takes to address the immediate repercussions of the situation. Recent examples include the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in the United States. The Bush administration used the threat posed by international terrorism as a pretext to implement a more aggressive foreign policy agenda. To counter the asymmetric terrorist threat more effectively, the US government consolidated 20 of its government agencies and offices to form the new Department of Homeland Security and put its disparate intelligence agencies under the supervision of the new Office of National Intelligence. The COVID-19 pandemic could spur similarly impactful changes to institutions and foreign policy in nations around the globe – for better or for worse.

In Hungary, populist leader Prime Minister Viktor...

About the Author

Michael H. Fuchs is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2013 to 2016.

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