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Fareed Zakaria speaks with Johns Hopkins Undergraduates and SAIS Students

On March 2, 2021, Dr. Fareed Zakaria joined Professor Hal Brands and Professor Francis J. Gavin for a virtual session with their undergraduate and graduate courses, the Kissinger Seminar on Grand Strategy. The discussion focused on his new book, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World, and geopolitics more broadly. 
Dr. Zakaria began by remarking how widespread the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are on human life contrasted to events even as seismic as the Great Recession of 2008 and the September 11th terrorist attacks. He continued by making a historical point that pandemics have been the great killers of humans in the past and the pandemic today has forced people to focus on the core of what keeps society functioning. Dr. Zakaria’s seminar followed topics in his book, and he discussed how the pandemic has reshaped the United States’ global image for the worse and led to the outlines of an emerging bipolar world, with China rivaling the U.S. Despite the brief furor over global supply chains for medical supplies at the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Zakaria said the globalized production of vaccines provides evidence that globalism is here to stay, albeit in an international system with more disaggregated power. He ended his remarks by calling himself an “American realist” who believes that the United States over the decades has reshaped the world and international system in a more liberal and rules-based order, characteristics that will likely remain regardless of polarity. 
Students had the opportunity to ask Dr. Zakaria questions. Dr. Brands opened the discussion by asking what led to Europe’s poor response to COVID-19 and how would that impact world order. Dr. Zakaria answered by saying whether states were authoritarian or democratic did not seem to be a key factor in the efficacy of the COVID-19 response, rather there should be more focus on the society itself and how Western individualist culture had a hard time dealing with the pandemic, even if this culture has other benefits. Eight students asked questions ranging from why did the international community not more forcefully respond to the Syrian civil war to challenging Dr. Zakaria’s claim that China is merely ethnonationalist and does not want to export its model of government. Dr. Zakaria answered these questions by noting specific aspects in each case and expanded his thoughts on why states behave in certain ways.
Dr. Zakaria hosts Fareed Zakaria GPS for CNN Worldwide and is a columnist forThe Washington Post, a contributing editor for The Atlantic, and a bestselling author. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, a doctorate in political science from Harvard University, and has received numerous honorary degrees.