On March 18, U.S. President Donald Trump invoked the Korean War-era Defense Production Act, casting himself as a “wartime president” fighting for “total victory” against an “invisible enemy”: the new coronavirus. Two days earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron had issued his own declaration of war on the coronavirus. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s coronavirus war became personal when he himself entered the casualty lists, spending a week in the hospital. Political leaders in Australia, India, South Africa, South Korea, and of course China have also cast their response to the pandemic in decidedly martial terms. In Brazil, the legislature has even tried to force the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, to declare war against his will.
All this talk of war inevitably raises questions about the shape of the postwar world.
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