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Imagine two U.S. foreign policy analysts plucked from their Washington think tanks and marooned on desert islands, one just before Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy and the other just before the 2016 election itself. After the election, both are told that the Republican candidate won and are asked to predict the new administration’s foreign policy. Whose predictions would have been more accurate?
At times this spring, the second analyst’s forecasts would have been on the money. Having followed the bitter election, he or she would have foretold the nature of the transition and the early weeks of the new administration as a logical continuation of the campaign. The starkly nationalist rhetoric of Trump’s inaugural address; the president’s unpredictable tweets; the departure of Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, after only 25 days in office; and a whole host of other developments solidified many professionals’