Everybody is talking the talks. But what are the songs beneath the words amid all the noises?
The world – once a battleground for many – is now a playground for eagles, giant pandas, bears, tigers, and self-interest seeking foxes and fools.
It is worth looking at what is shaping our realities and narratives today as the world does not work the way we see it or think of. And there is no last word about global politics and events. They change every day to prove the experts wrong.
Covid-19 is appearing to be an enormous stress test for governments around the world as the crisis blurs boundaries, power, identities, and politics.
"This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper," wrote TS Elliott long ago. And coronavirus is killing us softly.
The pandemic reaches new heights every day sitting on a ticking time bomb of domestic polarisation, national protectionism, and global fragmentation.
It is the first truly global crisis since World War II and the Cold War with deep shadows on economy, politics, security, and governance.
To control the disease, countries have started charting their paths in softer tones: every nation for itself.
There is no supreme king to rule this world. So, the theorists call it an anarchic world. And the global leadership seems to be in quarantine in response to the unexpected and unprecedented threat.
But the old man that our world is has been through a lot: world wars, epidemics, pandemics, financial crises, natural disasters, and stock market crashes. It still lives while humans make their entrances and exits in turn.
And there is no absolute truth either. It has many faces. Berlin wall fell in 1989. But there were no such walls before it.
To get a grip on Covid-19, today, governments have embraced such suppression that would have been unimaginable only a few weeks ago.
It is also worth looking back at the times before coronavirus. The world was busy with Brexit, Rohingyas, Isis, US-China "trade war", "climate kids", religious tension in India, the war in Syria, Trump, and US-Iran tug of war.
The Trump administration is hostile to global systems, while the European Union is turning inward, and lacks unity and vision. The UK's eyes have been fixated on the "playful, deep-set" blue eyes of Brexit for the past four years.
Populists and unilateralists such as Donald Trump and Narendra Modi pulled all the strings to an otherwise convenient enemy: immigrants and minorities.
With the rise of autocracies, exclusion, nationalism, xenophobia, and protectionism, it seemed that – from London to Brasília, and New Delhi to Washington – polarisation, and populism would become the song of the rest of the 21st century.
Nothing is permanent in the global scene – allies, enemies, diseases, disasters, power, borders, norms, and values. Only unchanging are the interests of the nations. Germany and Japan who were enemies of the US and Western Europe during World War II are now their comrades-in-arms.
Iran, once one of the pillars of the US foreign policy in the Middle East before 1979, is now facing the harshest of the US sanctions. The country imposed more sanctions on Iran, a country hit hard by the outbreak, for the third time in the past two weeks.
All that remains of a rose is its name. But that does not mean there will be no one left to blame. Politics, people and markets' natural response to a crisis is fear and uncertainty, "followed by mitigation" and a "search for renewal."
And this year's Covid-19 will not be the last. "Since 1980, more than 12,000 documented infectious disease outbreaks disrupted lives of tens of billions of people around the world," Robert Muggah, co-founder of the Igarapé Institute and SecDev Group, says.
Millions of people, namely in developing countries, die from malaria and tuberculosis each year.
And in the US alone, "hospital-acquired infections kill some 99,000 patients annually. Yet, these unlucky people get next to no attention," Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Harding Centre for Risk Literacy, says.
With hundreds of millions of commoners, and a few kings and queens now isolating themselves around the world, Covid-19 has become a truly global challenge. So, it needs a global solution, effort, and cooperation. No country can face it alone.
Yet, the political leaders are gliding towards nationalistic and short-term measures that are "less effective or even counterproductive."
But world leaders and governments often say things to create and build images. The US and China, for example, are locked in a self-destructive blame game. Yet this is the time to move beyond mere rhetoric and "nothing is going to change my world" way of thinking.
A "collective paralysis" has arrested the international community. There has been too little effort to harmonise national responses, "whether public health interventions, stimulus packages, monetary policies, border closures or vaccine development."
"Systemic crises led to major moments of multilateral innovation," says David Steven and Alex Evans, senior fellows at the New York University Centre on International Cooperation.
"The United Nations and the International Monetary Fund were created in the wake of World War II; what would become the G-7 after the 1973 oil shock; and the G-20 as a forum of the heads of states and governments after the 2008 financial crisis."
Although Covid-19 has been compared to the 2008 financial crisis, the two scenes are poles apart. The magnitude and scope of the pandemic make it a leviathan threat to the public and global health in a generation where the financial crisis remedy was designed for a world facing threats to the "quantity of economic growth."
But such decisive and coordinated global action has been lacking in response to Covid-19.
Stephen Walt, a realist at Harvard University, says when the survival of the national community is at stake, states turn inward, because their principal concern and responsibility is to protect their citizens, not to be the guardian angel of the world.
To respond to the pandemic and restore growth, the G7 leaders promised to use "appropriate" fiscal and monetary measures. But their foreign ministers could not agree on a joint statement because the US insisted on calling Covid-19 a "made-in-China" disease.
But everything is not either black or white. There are grey areas too. And cooperation is in everyone's interest. Major crises often "open the political space for radical reforms."
The G20 leaders committed doing "whatever it takes" to minimise the social and economic cost of the pandemic. In a largely unspecific joint communiqué, the G20 said it had undertaken a $5 trillion stimulus "through targeted fiscal policy and insurance schemes, and its members would look to increase funding to multilateral bodies as required."
While Covid-19 could fuel nationalism and isolationism and accelerate de-globalisation, the outbreak also could spur a "new wave of international cooperation of the sort that emerged after World War II."
In the end, "multilateralism is what states make of it". But with confidence in international cooperation and institutions at its lowest point in decades, the time has come to rewrite the global script for cooperation and rules of engagement.