Fighting COVID-19 demands more collective efforts, less indigenous nationalism

2020-04-08 16:15:30Xinhua Editor : Gu Liping ECNS App Download
Special: Battle Against Novel Coronavirus

World leaders should "temper, not inflame, indigenous nationalism" for a collective win over COVID-19 that has infected over 1.4 million people with 80,000-odd fatalities by Tuesday, experts said.

"The only way to end pandemics is collectively; the only time when anyone in the world will be safe is when everyone in the world will be safe," Robert Lawrence Kuhn, chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"Enlightened leadership should temper, not inflame, indigenous nationalism. We cannot allow mutual exhaustion to be our last hope," said Kuhn. "Pandemic and nationalism make a noxious brew, and, if we are not careful, that's just what we might get."

"It takes no cleverness to inflame feelings with glib rhetoric or political insults. Rational people must work together, not allow fringe invective to erode the capacity to fight a common enemy," he said.

"Leaders are dealing with the crisis on a largely national basis, but the virus's society-dissolving effects do not recognize borders," said Henry A. Kissinger, former secretary of state and national security adviser in the Nixon and Ford administrations, in a commentary carried by Wall Street Journal on April 3.

"No country, not even the U.S., can in a purely national effort overcome the virus. Addressing the necessities of the moment must ultimately be coupled with a global collaborative vision and program. If we cannot do both in tandem, we will face the worst of each," said Kissinger in the article titled The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order.

"Restraint is necessary on all sides -- in both domestic politics and international diplomacy. Priorities must be established," he said.

"Containment of the polemic will be more challenging than containment of the coronavirus." Kuhn said.


"A long-standing trope is that the only way to get our fractious and recalcitrant world, riven by conflicts of all kinds, to come together would be if there would be a common enemy of all that threatened everyone -- an alien invasion from outer space," Kuhn said.

"Well, that is precisely what we have with the novel coronavirus -- the only difference is that this common enemy comes from 'inner space,'" he said.

"The similarities between an alien invasion and a hyper-contagious virus are striking: neither cares one whit about the distinctions that human beings make among themselves and that continue to bother and burn us - nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, political systems," Kuhn said.

"We went on from the Battle of the Bulge into a world of growing prosperity and enhanced human dignity. Now, we live an epochal period. The historic challenge for leaders is to manage the crisis while building the future. Failure could set the world on fire," Kissinger said.

The recent special video summit held by the Group of 20 leaders has sent a message of cooperation and solidarity and injected confidence into the global anti-virus war, Zhiqun Zhu, a professor of political science and international relations at Bucknell University in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, told Xinhua.

"I think the leaders were united during this crisis, as evidenced in the joint statement following the videoconference," Zhu said.

The G20 leaders vowed to "do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic" and pledged to inject 5 trillion U.S. dollars in fiscal spending into the global economy to blunt the economic impact of the COVID-19.

They also agreed to assist developing countries and least developed countries with weak health systems to cope with the challenge.


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