With around 800,000 infections and approximately 45,000 deaths, there is no doubt that the U.S. has failed to properly respond to the coronavirus pandemic – thinking that everything could be back to normal by Easter that has already come and gone. As the 162-year-old prestigious The Atlantic magazine said, “the crisis demanded a response that was swift, rational, and collective.” This however did not occur, and instead “The United States reacted instead like Pakistan or Belarus—like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.”
The columnist used the word corruption four times in his article to describe U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, as well as other blistering terms like nepotism, amateurism and stupid. These are thunderous comments from a well-respected magazine and something we would expect in an anti-American publication in Iran or another country. And if calling Trump corrupt and stupid was not enough, the author even compared the American president to the docile Philippe Petain who led the Vichy pro-Nazi government in occupied France.
However, The Atlantic is not a lone voice in criticizing Trump’s inept coronavirus response with CNN even refusing to broadcast the president’s press conferences directly, as they claim his comments actually endanger public safety. Surprisingly though, ignoring Trump’s broadcasts were first done by the U.S. Public Radio, specifically by Seattle’s KUOW radio station, which accused the president of falsities in a tweet, saying “We will not be airing the briefings live due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.”
Whether one supposes a president’s press conference should be broadcast by the media or not, the true question is whether the pandemic has turned the U.S. into a failed state. With coronavirus out of control in the U.S., 22 million people claiming unemployment and the media turning against the president in such an aggressive manner, a case can certainly be made.
Well respected journalist Patrick Cockburn writing for the British publication The Independent questioned the U.S’ global dominance and said “the inability of Washington to respond adequately to Covid-19 shows that this is no longer the case and crystallises a perception that American competence is vanishing.” He continues by claiming that “the US is no longer a country that the rest of the world wants to emulate or, if they do, the emulators tend to be authoritarian nativist demagogues or despots.”
We also cannot forget that earlier this month Germany accused the U.S. of “modern piracy” for redirecting masks for their own use, demonstrating a country that is in desperation and not one that is supposedly the “leader of the free world.” This is just the icing on top of the cake when we consider the student debt of $1.6 trillion, the addiction to opiate drugs which kills at least 200 people a day, the reluctance or inability to maintain basic infrastructure like bridges and dams – these are just some of the signs of American decline.
The coronavirus and the failure of Western liberal societies like those in the European Union, as well as the U.S., has demonstrated that they are in a decline. No matter your opinion of China, it cannot be denied that it will emerge far stronger in the post-coronavirus world and the West far weaker. Under these conditions, the structural weaknesses of the U.S. may come to the surface in a tragic way.
As the American share of the global economy shrinks it will be very difficult for the U.S. to continue to play the difficult role of the authoritarian central bank of the entire planet. U.S. hegemony has been in a period of economic decline for years, which it only offsets with the Pentagon’s military might and exploitation of weaker states. The question is whether the coronavirus will make the fall quicker?
It certainly will as the U.S. has maintained its global dominance through military means, something that it is continuing unabated despite the pandemic. With tens of thousands of American soldiers in South Korea and Japan alone, there is still no discussion of withdrawing them back home, let alone all the other tens of thousands in Australia, South America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. These costly exercises with the massive slowdown in the U.S. economy due to coronavirus will see the world no longer ruled by a unipolar system, but rather an ever increasing balanced multipolarity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.