Major crises have major consequences, usually unforeseen. The Great Depression spurred isolationism, nationalism, fascism, and World War II—but also led to the New Deal, the rise of the United States as a global superpower, and eventually decolonization. The 9/11 attacks produced two failed American interventions, the rise of Iran, and new forms of Islamic radicalism. The 2008 financial crisis generated a surge in antiestablishment populism that replaced leaders across the globe. Future historians will trace comparably large effects to the current coronavirus pandemic; the challenge is figuring them out ahead of time.

It is already clear why some countries have done

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  • FRANCIS FUKUYAMA is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and the author of Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment.
  • More By Francis Fukuyama