At a time when humanity needs the guidance and initiative of the most powerful countries, the world’s leader for decades, the United States, is doing everything in its power to limit its role, betraying visions, hopes and expectations along the way.
US President Donald Trump’s management of the Covid-19 crisis has harmed the country’s image, and not just in the eyes of its rivals and competitors, but also its traditional friends, partners and allies. Moreover, experts – and not his political rivals – seem to agree that his stance is putting the health of millions of Americans at risk.
Trump’s administration responded to the crisis lackadaisically and arrogantly; the issue was not ideological. His Democratic predecessor Barack Obama and also Republican George W. Bush, the latter as early as 2005, had warned of the risks of a pandemic.
Everyone wants the economy to restart as soon as possible so that businesses can go back into operation, people can work, and goods and services can be produced. At the same time, everyone – at least anyone with a brain – agrees that saving lives is the priority.
Trump brushed aside the scientists, again choosing to go with what he likes to call his “natural” instincts, and ignored all the early warnings regarding the magnitude of the coronavirus threat. Now he appears to be toying with the idea of dismissing the government’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, because he stated that more lives would have been saved if the country had applied the measures recommended by scientists earlier.
And the most recent outrage by the American president was his decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO). As the world’s biggest economy, US contributions make up around 15 percent of the WHO’s budget.
Tech mogul Bill Gates warned that the decision is “as dangerous as it sounds.” “Their work is slowing the spread of Covid-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs WHO now more than ever,” he said in a tweet.
Whatever its shortcomings, the US has always been a leader in the sciences and in cooperative international efforts for dealing with health threats and challenges. It is sad to see its leadership acting so selfishly today and besmirching the country’s reputation. The people of other countries are no longer in awe of the American leadership as they once were – even silently. Instead, they are critical of its behavior, and eager to keep their distance.