April 15, 2020

CNAS Launches New Initiative: America and the Post-Pandemic World

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) today announced the launch of a major initiative on America and the Post-Pandemic World. Leveraging CNAS’ unique multidisciplinary approach, the effort will fuse deep research, scenario-planning workshops, and tabletop exercises to:

  • Assess the major drivers and uncertainties likely to reshape the post-pandemic world;
  • Examine how specific choices, trends, and dynamic interactions could lead to different long-term outcomes; and, ultimately,
  • Make recommendations for policies and approaches that will position the United States to advance its interests and values in a potentially altered world order.

American policymakers are rightly focused on the urgent public health and economic crises associated with the coronavirus in the immediate term. Yet its reverberations are likely to affect nearly every aspect of international politics long after the immediate crisis has ebbed. New shocks and shifts could reorder balances of power, economic relationships, and political forces within and between states. Previously prevailing trends could accelerate, dissipate, or change course altogether. These changes will be further affected as the United States, its partners, and its competitors all take on new challenges and opportunities.

CNAS experts will collaborate across the full range of the Center’s research programs and engage an array of external voices. The initiative will focus on three key lines of inquiry:

  • Economics and technology: What is the future of globalization? How will the reordering of the global economy affect technology competition, supply chains, economic coercion, and the tools of economic statecraft?
  • Defense and security: How will the pandemic affect the size, shape, and activities of the U.S. military? What will be the enduring effects on regional security threats and America’s alliances and partnerships?
  • Politics and ideology: What effects will the pandemic have on the forces of autocracy, populism, and high-tech illiberalism? What kinds of international institutions and arrangements will—or should—rise and fall after COVID-19?

“In August 1941, months before Pearl Harbor, the United States and Britain began planning for a postwar era,” said CNAS Chief Executive Officer Richard Fontaine. “By issuing the Atlantic Charter, they demonstrated that the time to envision a better future is not after a crisis but during its acute phase. Now is the time for hard thinking about the world that will follow the global pandemic, and how America can best shape it. CNAS is poised and ready to contribute to this effort.”

Ely Ratner, CNAS Executive Vice President, said, “The centerpiece of this forward-looking initiative will be a series of structured scenario-planning workshops and tabletop exercises. Striving to address the unforeseen challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, CNAS will help prepare U.S. leaders for the tremendous uncertainty and potential for transformative change that could define the forthcoming period of international politics.”

For more information or to request an interview with the project leads, contact Cole Stevens at cstevens@cnas.org or (202) 695-8166.