Donald Trump’s behavior during the coronavirus crisis has been exactly what we have come to expect. Because of his ego, he refused to acknowledge that this was also America’s war and did in fact affect the U.S. At the same time, Trump imagined that the power of the United States would allow him to defeat the coronavirus without issue.
Like other world leaders, Trump’s failure to take the coronavirus and its potential seriously allowed the virus to fly under the radar of the United States’ political, social and economic institutions. Only when this bubble finally popped did Trump understand what he was really facing. When confronted with a human opponent, Trump meticulously plans out how to bully the opponent into defeat, without ever considering any possibility other than victory. The U.S. national security strategy has always included plans for how to completely defeat regional and world powers. In the event that a third world war broke out, the U.S. was confident that, just as in World War I and World War II, it could steer the outcome to its own benefit without suffering significant damage.
But the blatant oversight in this national security strategy was that it assumed the enemies and allies of World War III would resemble those of the first two world wars. They did not even consider that the enemy would instead be a microscopic virus with billions of soldiers weighing less than a total of five grams. This error in calculation has led to an agonizing loss for the United States.
Now, Trump brazenly hopes to shirk responsibility for this defeat and fend it off on others. In the past few weeks, he has variously accused China, the World Health Organization, U.S. Democrats and state governors of being responsible for this war with COVID-19. It would seem the stronger the global power, the more obvious its failures are. Although the U.S. is a hub of science and technology, it has been forced to turn to the rest of the world for help with supplying masks, gloves and ventilators. Trump has not acted responsibly in any sense, not even acting as the U.S. acted during World War II, joining with other countries to forge stronger resistance against a new enemy. Surely if Barack Obama or Bill Clinton were president, instead of only worrying about the U.S., they would be trying to treat this as a global war and take a leadership role. But Trump has already burned his bridges, even with his own European allies. He has not only abandoned them on the front lines, he has even taken to ridiculing them.
The result is that the United States has been left all alone in this war against the coronavirus, which has so far resulted in 800,000 U.S. cases and the loss of nearly 50,000 innocent American lives. Since first taking office, Trump has leaned on America’s military power less than previous presidents and preferred alternatives such as economic sanctions, cyber and biological warfare or trade wars to defeat America’s enemies. But these were all designed to combat human enemies, and thus, Trump was caught off guard by the coronavirus attack.
Trump calls himself a businessman who prides himself with always coming out on top in dealing with other countries. He values this principle above all else. He rose to the presidency with slogans like “America First” and by promising to end unemployment and increase income and the gross domestic product, and he was counting on success in these areas for support. By abusing the rights of other nations and dismantling international structures for two years, he was able to temporarily make America prosper domestically, seemingly achieving the lowest unemployment rate and highest domestic development rates in recent years. To accomplish this, he acted contrary to international norms, counter to the principles of international law and in violation of global peace and security.
Despite the fact that Trump believed he could escape the potential fallout, God had a different punishment in store for him. Trump imposed cruel sanctions on the Iranian people under the guise of combating the Islamic Republic’s regime. He deprived Iran, Venezuela and others access to the international oil market, to the benefit of the American shale oil market. By doing this, Trump actually tried to transfer wealth from developing nations to the U.S. and convince the American people that he was successful. Everything appeared lined up for winning a second term of his populist administration, but apparently God had a different fate in mind.
In just one month, the low unemployment figures that were among Trump’s biggest accomplishments have skyrocketed from 4% to over 15%, leaving him with nearly 25 million unemployed Americans. The price of oil has also fallen to less than $14 per barrel and American shale oil producers are facing bankruptcy. Because the production of each barrel costs $60, the U.S. has been left no choice but to pay buyers of West Texas oil by the barrel just to store it.
But COVID-19 didn’t stop there, either. It has forced the U.S. economy to deal with millions of hungry Americans. For the first time in a century, more than 50 million Americans are facing hunger and poverty, resulting in long lines for food and other basic necessities. What does Trump have to be proud of now? What does he have left to convince the people to vote for him?
Not only does Trump have no new accomplishments, in a matter of weeks he has lost all he accomplished in the last two years. The United States has lost this battle so badly because it chose to isolate itself from other countries and not to care about anyone but Americans. Luckily, day by day, Americans are realizing the con that their populist leader is pulling by trying to take advantage of the rest of the world. Perhaps through this, they will learn how important it is to respect international relations, principles of international law and the rights of other nations, and how ignoring these principles can cause irreparable damage to the U.S.
But Trump just continues bullying. In another absurd move, he encouraged the citizens of several states to rise up and liberate themselves from their own governors! Only a truly foolish leader would incite the people against his own government. This recent move by Trump, unprecedented in U.S. and world history, clearly comes from a place of desperation and is intended to help him in the upcoming election. At the same time, it directly calls into question the national security and governance of the United States, as well as the unity of the American people.
Trump may benefit from the support of those who are protesting out of fear they will go hungry, but his behavior will certainly lead to chaos and anarchy within the political, social and economic institutions in the U.S. The U.S. has become a country that is polarized between those who understand that Trump is a strategic blunder that threatens national security, and those who either do not understand this or support his policies of civil disobedience because those policies help them earn money in the short run. But in the near future, they will see that these policies will lead to the downfall of the U.S. as a global superpower.
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