“We are all Americans,” that is how the world responded to 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Countries rallied to show support and sympathy for the victims of 9/11. Flowers piled high in front of American embassies across the world. In England, Queen Elizabeth II sang the national anthem at Buckingham Palace’s changing of the guard then observed two minutes of silence.
Gerhard Schroeder, the German Chancellor at the time said the attack “was not only on the people in the United States, our friends in America but also against the entire civilized world, against our own freedom, against our own values. Values we share with the American people.” Even countries that wouldn’t have gotten along with the US under normal circumstances, joined the voices condemning the attack on the country. Cuba offered airspace and airports to American planes. Iranian, Chinese, and Palestinian officials sent their condolences and condemned the attacks on the American people.
Well, a lot has changed since then. Here we are, years later under attack, this time from an invisible enemy and the international community that once rallied behind the United States in the past have turned their backs on us and, can we blame them?.
For the past three and a half years, the rest of the world has watched Donald Trump turn his back on them in pursuit of his ‘America first’ policy. Trump ignored the views of our allies or did not consult them at all on a number of key issues, whether it was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iranian Nuclear Deal, or more recently his sudden unilateral decision to pull out of the World Health Organisation. Our allies, especially those in Europe believe that they cannot trust this president whose entire political identity is centered around exclusion and America first.
It is the actions of Donald Trump for the past three and a half years that have led us to this point. America’s trust on the global stage has eroded and during a time when we should be leading the discussion surrounding public health, we have become a global pariah state, seen by the rest of the world as a public health hazard.
Doomed to fail from the start
Donald Trump has treated the coronavirus as being a responsibility of state and local officials. He failed to realize that when the world looks at America they see America the country. They do not see single states so, if one state fails in their response to the virus, the entire country fails. As Juliette Kayyem writes in the Atlantic: “Despite the good works of many governors and mayors, the heroic efforts of nurses and doctors, and months of dutiful hand-washing, social-distancing, and mask-wearing by millions of Americans, the U.S. is being judged by its sickest states and most reckless politicians. Becoming a global pariah isn’t just embarrassing. It could also limit Americans’ economic activity and freedom of movement in ways that citizens of the world’s leading power are unaccustomed to seeing.”
This summer, instead of Americans lazing on a beach in Mykonos or admiring the beautiful traditional architecture in Toledo, Spain, they’ll have to settle for staying home in their PJs rewatching the previous season of ‘Money Heist’ (seriously guys its a good show). Because the European Union ban all visitors from the US from entering their member countries when they reopened on July 1.
On Tuesday, the EU released a list of residents allowed to travel to their region. On that list was residents from, Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morroco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Tunisia and Uraguay. China will be included if the country reopened its borders to EU residents.
Noticeably absent from the list was the United States. It was the most stinging rebuke of the Trump administration response to the coronavirus so far, and it was entirely justified. The US still remains the hardest-hit developed nation in the world. And make no mistake, that is a huge blow to American prestige. The country is now grouped with Russia and Brazil.
America the epicenter
Also, whereas in the early days of the outbreak when China was the epicenter and countries would ban visitors from that country, we are now seeing a total reversal. Donald Trump might still see China as the bad guy in all of this but it’s clear the rest of the world does not. China was the epicenter of the first wave of the coronavirus, the US could possibly be the epicenter of the second outbreak and the European countries are trying to prevent that from happening. So, in that regard, the rest of the world is grouping the United States with China and Trump will not like that.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said he’s in no hurry to re-open his country’s southern border “too quickly” due to fears of a second wave of the coronavirus. China also stopped importing poultry products from a Tyson facility in Arkansas due to the high rate of coronavirus infections among the employees that work at the plant. Beijing may have their own agenda for taking this measure. But all of this is simply embarrassing.
The irony of this entire situation is, Donald Trump spent his entire presidency trying to build a wall to keep out foreigners. The coronavirus has proven to be a very effective wall, protecting the rest of the world from Americans. At this point, we are really alone, we are absent from the table. The rest of the world is moving on and leaving us behind in the company of Russia and Brazil.
We need a change in leadership. One that can restore America’s standing with our allies and rebuild trust, so this does not happen again. Under Donald Trump’s leadership, we went from being a world leader to a bottom feeder. We have truly become a pariah state as a consequence of Trump’s America first policy.