"US leadership is nowhere to be found."
Since the end of the Second World War, the current world order has been dictated by the victorious western liberal democracies led by the United States. Well, this was until 2016 when business tycoon Donald Trump won the US presidency and came up with a new doctrine of making America great again.
It took some time for the world to digest what this new doctrine was all about, but it has now become crystal clear. It is America first. He started with his border wall and vitriolic rhetoric against Latino immigrants calling them murderers and rapists. According to reports, however, this did not prevent his companies from employing undocumented aliens and paying them very low wages.
Then he said that NATO, the lynchpin of western defense alliance, is obsolete. He started criticizing US allies like Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. As reported in the media, he was also very insulting and rude when talking to the German leader Angela Merkel and former UK Prime Minister Theresa May on the phone. Yet, he was reverential to the Russian president.
Now, in the midst of a devastating pandemic and a time when countries are looking for American leadership, what is the US President doing? Well, he is concentrating on his reelection campaign, defending Andrew Jackson, and one might think campaigning for the Presidency of the Confederacy which does not exist anymore.
“Chaotic” is the best way to describe how the US is handling the pandemic. He refuses to wear a mask even in indoor gatherings, tells people to take disinfectants to protect themselves against the virus, does not follow what his medical experts are telling him and as reports are saying, basically spends his time glued on TV and tweeting. He even finds time to go out and play golf when hundreds of Americans are dying every day.
Instead of appealing to the American people for unity in the middle of the Black Lives Matter street protests, Trump is stoking racial divisiveness and culture wars. It now seems all right for white supremacists and neo-Nazis to come out in the open and have their say because the guy in the White House believes that there are good people among them. It is as if his mind is somewhere else and not focused on governing or leading his country in the fight against the virus ravaging the world.
The traditional role of the US leading the world during trying times is nowhere to be found. What we see instead is the US government selfishly wanting to buy all available Remdesivir, the only drug proven to have therapeutic effect in the treatment of COVID-19, unmindful whether there will be enough of the drug left for other countries to buy.
It is hard to fathom what is going on in the head of Donald Trump. He is running for reelection and should be doing everything right to win. Instead, he seems to be doing all the wrong things in order to lose the election. He is also insisting on having his convention in Florida which is now the epicenter of the pandemic in the US. Florida is where many senior citizens are living but this does not seem to bother the Trump campaign that these people who are Trump supporters might die if exposed to the disease.
Up to now, there is still no coherent national policy to combat COVID-19. The most powerful country in the world that is so used to telling countries what to do refuses to mandate the wearing of a mask on a national level. It has become so political even if it is already a settled science that wearing a mask slows the spread of the disease.
This is perhaps the reason why the US is now the laughingstock of the world. The European Union has banned Americans from entering the EU because of the dramatic rise in US infections. If the US President refuses to lead, at least he should refrain from issuing baseless and unsubstantiated statements that tend to add to the already confusing situation like saying that 99 percent of COVID-19 infections are harmless. He does not seem to have any clue of what leadership entails or what it takes to be a leader. Whatever it is with him, he is missing an opportunity to rise to the occasion and be a unifier of his people instead of devoting his time on monuments and fanning racial division.
Trump should take this occasion to lead the American people in confronting historical misdeeds of the past like slavery and the brutal treatment of native Americans. Only then can the country really move forward and be a truly great country—not just a powerful one.