Ike Was Right: Global Cooperation is Essential for a Secure Future

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Eisenhower Fellows Call Upon World Leaders to Combat COVID-19 Through Cooperation

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Let’s come together, not only to avoid the worst but to achieve the best humanity can offer.

The emergence of the novel coronavirus, known to the world as COVID-19, currently affects everyone across the globe. Eisenhower Fellowships (EF), an organization that engages emerging leaders worldwide to develop leadership capacities, also encompasses a global family of scientists, civil servants, advocates, and entrepreneurs, many of whom are working directly on COVID-19 efforts.

The central vision of EF, founded as a gift to the namesake president in 1953, is to achieve peace and prosperity through international cooperation. This vision was always enormously important, and even more so today.

This is why we, Eisenhower Fellows and leaders of EF chapters across the country, call on world leaders to heed the hard-learned lessons of the current moment and commit to real collaboration. Uncoordinated efforts to rein in the coronavirus will only prolong the time it takes to stop the progress of the disease and increase the economic and humanitarian damage. We must recognize the need to reframe a discussion based on a crucial understanding: preventing or defeating a pandemic is a global challenge requiring a global solution.

We are seeing this cooperation right now in the battle against COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced a large global trial, appropriately called SOLIDARITY, to find treatments for the dangerous respiratory disease. WHO also called for a global response in elevating health systems to a minimum standard in countries that cannot manage basic infection control. Such a task is expensive, but the price comes into perspective when calculating the cost of responding to an international health crisis. The United Nation’s trade and development agency says the slowdown in the global economy caused by the coronavirus outbreak is costing $1 trillion and counting.

Once the current pandemic is brought under control, nations must work together to avoid repeating the global systemic failures that allowed the virus to spread widely. This means renewed collaborative efforts using platforms like the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the Pan American Health Organization. Countries need to create or reinstitute authorities, like the Office for Global Pandemics in the U.S. These institutions need to be globally connected and locally empowered to break the chains of transmission, provide early and transparent warnings, and lead efforts for logistical support and treatment units against potential outbreaks.

The coronavirus is the latest evidence that proves our fortunes are intertwined. That is why, before the onset of the pandemic, 21 American and 22 international Eisenhower Fellows were set to embark on travel across multiple continents to pursue myriad social and economic projects not only for the benefit of their countries of origin but for the world at large. They know, as we do, that it is impossible to look at any problem the world faces, be it hunger, migration, poverty, or — perhaps most emphatically — climate change, and believe that it can be solved by a single country.

We appeal to citizens of every nation to call on their governments to work together wherever possible. Eisenhower Fellows, use your positions of influence, your prestige, and lessons from your fellowship to embolden your respective nations toward global cooperation. Another pandemic will come. The question is, will we learn from our mistakes and be wise and humane enough to put aside differences and work together in common cause.

The only direction that leads away from catastrophe and towards a secure future for our children is global cooperation. Let’s come together, not only to avoid the worst but to achieve the best humanity can offer.

Sonya Anderson, Chicago
Jarrett Barrios, Los Angeles
Jack Bienko, Washington, D.C.
Anita Brown-Graham, Los Angeles
Winston Chang, Washington, D.C.
Chelsea Collier, Austin
John Della Volpe, Boston
Dean Fealk, San Francisco
Cynthia Figueroa, Philadelphia
Loree Jones, Philadelphia
Diane Mulcahy, Boston
Jorge Riopedre, St. Louis
Cristal Thomas, Chicago

Authors’ Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Eisenhower Fellowships.

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J. Bienko

J. Bienko
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