Tom Enders, John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge

Covid-19: The Wake-Up Call

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The Covid crisis has not just highlighted the failures of certain governments; it is accelerating a shift in the balance of power from West to East. Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, political editor of the Economist and author of its Bagehot column, discuss main aspects of their recently published book The Wake-Up Call: Why the Pandemic Has Exposed the Weakness of the West, and How to Fix It with Tom Enders, President of the German Council of Foreign Relations and former CEO of Airbus.

After a decade where politics in the U.S. and the U.K. were consumed with inward-facing struggles, a new Asian model of government has been gaining ground in countries like South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. China too has been climbing the league tables in education and health. The recent events in Washington, D.C., have highlighted the problems in the West’s most powerful democracy; but the EU, which has been through Brexit and Covid without fundamentally changing its structure, also faces challenges. This session examined the major question facing the world right now: can the West wake up before it’s too late?

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Time Topic
0:05 Intro by Steffi Czerny
4:00 Why government matters: John Micklethwait explains key aspects of The Wake-Up Call.
4:30 The pandemic exposed the importance of government: “Good government meant that you survived Covid, bad government gave you a very poor chance.”
5:30 Comparing the performance of Asian countries during the pandemic with Britain and the West.
7:20 If Western democracies “keep on neglecting government in the way they have… the future of the world will be back in Asia.” (JM)
9:15 Why the pandemic may turn out to be the wake-up call that actually brings change.
10:10 “…we see China emerging as a superpower… And we see that at a time when global tensions with China are growing.” Adrian Wooldridge.
12:15 Meet “Bill Lincoln”, a fictional president the U.S. may wish were real.
14:35 Taking inspiration from the past: how could government be both smaller and more efficient (again)?
17:30 Europe’s hopes for President Biden.
21:25 America, torn between interventionism and isolationism.
24:15 How conservatives in Britain invented the welfare state.
26:00 “Trump was not an aberration. Trump was a response to a demand.” (AW)
29:00 Joe Biden’s challenges – domestically and internationally.
32:00 The “false positive” of thinking that autocracies can better handle crises than democracies.
35:15 Why Singapore could serve as a role model for the West.
43:00 After Brexit: the tricky relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU.
50:00 Can the European Union thrive without tighter political integration?
51:50 How civil or military service could help to create a new feeling of social cohesion – and “bring clever young people into the state”.
54:30 U.S. vs. China: America “has a capacity to reinvent itself, which is unequaled in the world… And China doesn’t have that.” (AW)
58:20 The difference between Japan in the 1980s and China now.
1:02:10 Wrap-up.

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