Document: COVID-19 and the international security environment


The following is the December 3, 2021 Congressional Research Service report, COVID-19: Potential Implications for the International Security Environment – Issue Overview and Further Reading for Congress.

From the report

Some observers argue that the COVID-19 pandemic could be a world-changing event with potentially profound and lasting implications for the international security environment. Other observers are more skeptical that the pandemic will have such effects.

In reports released in March and April 2021, the U.S. intelligence community provided assessments of the potential impact of the pandemic on the international security environment.

Observers who argue that the pandemic could change the world for the international security environment have focused on several areas of potential change, including the following, which are listed here separately but overlap in some cases and may interact with each other. others :

  • world order, international institutions and world governance;
  • The global leadership of the United States and the role of the United States in the world;
  • the potential role of China as a world leader;
  • American relations and great competition with China and Russia;
  • the relative prevalence of democratic and authoritarian or autocratic forms of government;
  • societal tension, reform, transformation and governmental stability in various countries;
  • the world economy, globalization and US trade policy;
  • allied defense spending and American alliances;
  • the cohesion of the European Union;
  • defining and budgeting for US national security;
  • US defense strategy, defense budgets and military operations;
  • US foreign aid programs, international debt relief, and refugee policy;
  • activities of non-state actors;
  • the amount of US attention devoted to ongoing international issues other than the pandemic; and
  • the role of Congress in establishing and overseeing the execution of United States foreign and defense policy.

Questions for Congress may include whether and how the pandemic might change the international security environment, whether the actions of the Biden administration to respond to such a change are appropriate and sufficient, and what implications such a change might have for the government. role of Congress in establishing and overseeing the execution of United States foreign and defense policy. Decisions by Congress on these matters could have important implications for U.S. foreign and defense policy.

Download the document here.


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