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Document: COVID-19 and the International Security Environment

The following is the Dec. 14, 2020 Congressional Research Service report, COVID-19: Potential Implications for International Security Environment—Overview of Issues and Further Reading for Congress.

From the report

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

Observers who argue the COVID-19 pandemic could be world-changing for the international security environment and the U.S. role in the world have focused on several areas of potential change, including the following, which are listed here separately but overlap in some cases and can interact with one another:

  • world order, international institutions, and global governance;
  • U.S. global leadership and the U.S. role in the world;
  • China’s potential role as a global leader;
  • U.S. relations and great power competition with China and Russia, including the use of the COVID-19 pandemic as a theme or tool for conducting ideological competition;
  • 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 U.S. trade policy;
  • the characteristics and conduct of conflict;
  • allied defense budgets and U.S. alliances;
  • the cohesion of the European Union;
  • the definition of, and budgeting for, U.S. national security;
  • U.S. defense strategy, defense budgets, and military operations ;
  • U.S. foreign assistance programs and international debt relief;
  • activities of non-state actors;
  • the amount of U.S. attention devoted to ongoing international issues other than the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • the role of Congress in setting and overseeing the execution of U.S. foreign and defense policy.

Issues for Congress may include whether and how the COVID-19 pandemic could change the international security environment, whether the Trump Administration’s actions for responding to such change are appropriate and sufficient, and what implications such change could have for the role of Congress in setting and overseeing the execution of U.S. foreign and defense policy.

Congress’s decisions regarding these issues could have significant and even profound implications for U.S. foreign and defense policy, and for the status of Congress as a co-equal branch relative to the executive branch in setting and overseeing the implementation of U.S. foreign and defense policy.

Download the document here.