This ongoing, multi-part study will include a series of verbatim translations, gists, and commentary from the Arabic media, supported by entries from other (usually western) media, and interspersed with analysis.


(Posted on on 21 March 2020)

Translated from the Arabic by Barry Webb

During the last few weeks the swift spread of the Corona virus in the countries of the world has caused the suspension of economic life in numerous cities and the closing of markets as well as the suspension of travel while inflicting economic harm. Moreover it has highlighted the (in)adequacies of governments and revealed other failures.

The Foreign Policy magazine (probably means Foreign Affairs magazine based on an earlier report on al-Jazeera) believes that the Corona epidemic is tantamount to an historical faultline such as the fall of the Berlin wall or the collapse of the Lehman Brothers bank. This is a destructive world event the long term ramifications of which are difficult to predict.

As an effort to uncover the features of the world order after the Corona plaque subsides the publication (meaning the above-mentioned magazine) published the expectations of 12 prominent intellectuals and experts from different parts of the world. Following are five of the most prominent of them:


The expert Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at the American Harvard University believes that the Corona epidemic will play a role in strengthening and furthering the cause of nationalism and that the governments in various parts of the world will adopt emergency measures to deal with the crisis represented by the spread of the epidemic, but a number of these governments will not want to give up their new-found powers when the crisis ends.

Moreover, he expects that the spread of the epidemic will speed up the way in which power and influence will be transferred from the west to the east. Proof of that is that the eastern countries have confronted the illness, such as South Korea and Singapore, in a way much preferable to that of Europe and the United States of America. Moreover China’s dealing with the epidemic has also been good despite the fact that it was afflicted with it from the beginning when the virus was discovered. He also said that the slow and stumbling response in Europe and America is among the things which have besmirched the halo which still surrounds western dealings.

According to Walt, the current epidemic will not play a role in changing the prevalent global politics which are characterized by clash. Proof of that is the fact that the epidemics which have previously hit mankind have not put an end to the competition between the great powers, and have not been a turning point towards a new era of global cooperation.

Walt summarized his view saying that when the current battle against the (Corona) epidemic (is over), and the dust is blown off, it will reveal a world that will be less open, less flourishing, and less free due to the confluence of several factors among which are the fatal virus, the inadequate planning (for it), and leaderships which lacked competency (all of which) put mankind on a path that is very disturbing.

COMMENT: Professor Walt is correct when he said that one of the effects of the Corona virus will be to strengthen nationalism, as each nation tries to fend for itself. But he appears to be naïve by claiming that’s China’s response to the virus has been good. The good professor appears to be accepting China’s claims seriously on the number of cases and number of deaths. In other words he has to be willing to believe that a tiny country like Spain (population of 47 million) has more deaths from the virus than a huge country like China (population 1.4 Billion)! And that’s a China that refused to acknowledge that they had a problem when tens of thousands of their citizens were dropping dead–according to inside reports.

Walt also seems to be incapable of pointing any sort of a finger at China for being the cause of the world’s problem, only allowing that it began there “when the virus was discovered” (if that isn’t a total whitewashing nothing is). On the other hand, he couldn’t refrain from indirectly accusing U.S. president Trump of incompetence. This sort of naivete and double standards has become the expected norm for Harvard.



As for Ruben Niblett, President and executive director of Chatham House known as the Royal institute for International Affairs headquartered in Britain, he believes that the calamity of the Corona virus will be the straw that breaks the back of the camel of economic globalization.

Niblett attributes that to a number of factors that preceded the epidemic, among which are America’s concern over the growing economic and military power of China which has led to a political consensus to block China from America’s high tech and technology and to try to get America’s allies to follow its example.

Furthermore, the increasing popular and political pressure to reduce carbon emissions to protect the environment has raised questions about the number of companies depending upon supply chains from far distant places.

According to Niblett the spread of Covid-19 has forced governments, companies, and also societies to strengthen their ability to deal with a long period of time of economic isolation and self-reliance. Therefore, it is not likely, given all of the above factors, for the world to return to the idea of a mutually beneficial globalization which characterized the first part of the 21st century.

COMMENT: Niblett’s report is the most coherent, and least political, of the collection presented here by al-Jazeera. We sincerely hope he is correct that America will redirect its supply-line connections away from China and include more manufacturing of key items domestically. The end of globalization, or at least a pull-back, is also likely in the cards for the near term. In the long term, though, I do believe that globalization is the wave of humankind’s future. We must hope, though, that that future does not belong to the CCP.



Kishore Mahbubani, a researcher at the Asia institute for studies at the Singapore National University, and the author of the book “Has China Won: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy,” has a different view from those expressed above on the ramifications of the Corona epidemic on the world economy since he believes that the calamity will not have much effect on the direction of the global economy. However, it will play a role in the rapid changes that have already begun to happen, such as the transfer of a globalization centered around the United States to a globalization focused on China.

Mahbubani pointed out that this scenario has already become most likely in light of the American people’s loss of confidence in globalization and international trade. And, what has also already taken place, Mahbubani believes that the free trade agreements have become toxic whether during the rule of the American President Donald Trump or anyone else.

On the other hand, the Chinese have not lost their confidence in globalization and international trade due to several reasons some of which hearken back to historical reasons namely that the Chinese leadership is very well aware now that the century which China lived through from 1842 to 1949 was a result of its weakness and inappropriate efforts which its leadership made at that time to cut itself off from the world.

China’s opening up to the world during the last few decades have led to economic vitality and strengthened the confidence of the Chinese people in their culture, as the Chinese have come to believe in their capability to compete in any place on the face of the planet.

COMMENT: Mr. Mahbubani is correct in stating that trade deals with China are now toxic, and that the American people have lost faith in globalization. However, he may be overstating the current Chinese leadership’s ability to survive this crisis. If the U.S. is successful in exposing China’s true role in the spread of this virus, it will be the U.S. that becomes, once again, the focal point of globalization and China will become a pariah even more than it was during the century that Mahbubani mentioned above.



Corey Shak, the deputy general director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies believes that the world after the Corona virus will no longer see the continuation of the United States’ leadership of the world.

Shak said, in Foreign Policy, that her expectations were that the world will never look to the United States after this because the international leadership views the behavior of the American administration as being based on the supremacy of narrow self interests and because “that burdensome administration lacks the competence.”

She pointed out that there is a possibility of lightening the global effects of this epidemic to a great extent by having the international organization providing more information quicker. This is something that will give the governments sufficient time to prepare and direct resources to the places which are considered to be in the greatest need. The United States had the ability to assume this role and organize these efforts to affirm that its attention is not directed only at American domestic concerns.

Shak concluded by saying that Washington has failed the test of leadership and that the world is now in a worse situation as a result of that failure.

COMMENT: Shak is correct by saying that international efforts, or something, should give governments time to prepare and direct resources. However, she is dead wrong by laying the blame for that lack on the Trump administration’s doorstep. China is the one who started this epidemic. It was China’s responsibility to warn the world. Instead, it was China that kept the lid on any knowledge of this plague, and it was China, supported by Shak’s allies in the Democrat Party and media, who downplayed this crisis and demonized the Trump administration for “xenophobia” when the Trump administration did try to take measures to protect Americans from the Wuhan flu.



John Allen, director of the Brookings Institute, expects that the victors in the battle against the lethal Corona virus will be the ones who will get to write the history, as has been the case throughout human history.

He said that all of the countries have reached the point of suffering from societal stress as a result of the spread of the virus in a powerful, novel way, and that the countries which come out of this with the best political, economic, and peerless health system will triumph over the countries which come out with destructive and different results in their battle against the lethal virus.

Allen made reference to the view that what the battle against the Corona virus will reveal will vary between those who see in it a decisive victory for Democracy and Pluralism and comprehensive health care, while others will see in it proof of the clear benefits of a decisive dictatorial government.

Furthermore, Allen expects that the international order will be subjected to many pressures because of the virus which has afflicted most of the countries of the world during the last several weeks and has led to a contraction of economic activity and an increase in tensions between countries. This in turn has led to instability and to widespread conflicts within some of the countries, and between countries.

COMMENT: For the Brookings Institute, this is a very mild accounting. Mr. Allan is to be commended for not making this a political issue, and for not taking sides. However, in speaking only in generalities he failed to offer anything not already said by others.


China, well aware of its guilt in the Corona/Wuhan flu scandal, has been pumping millions of dollars into the world’s media, and politicians’ pockets, to clear its name with regards to Corona. Readers should always bear that in mind whenever they read anything about Corona. There are others, whether accepting Chinese money or not, who have been using the Corona/Wuhan flu crisis as an opportunity to score political points against U.S. president Trump and his administration. Several of the above articles selected by
al-jazeera show evidence of tendencies towards fake news.

As for the projected decline of the U.S., al-jazeera, being an ally of Iran, Turkey, and the Muslim Brotherhood, is obviously one of the cheer leaders for that possibility–while totally, and willfully, ignoring China’s genocide against their fellow Muslim Uighurs in China.

The United States can be the winner in this Corona/Wuhan flu war, but it has a ton of make-up work to do in the propaganda arena.


Barry Webb has logged a 25-year career as an Arabist for the NSA, has two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is currently a Senior Fellow with Americans for Intelligence Reform He is the author of Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is

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