The United States is in uncharted territory, on an exponential path to becoming a Covid-19 pariah and an unreliable ally to its friends.
America’s fall in global esteem is turning into an international horror show as the world watches the superpower struggle to match the efforts of many poorer nations to get the coronavirus pandemic under control.
Three-and-a-half years of President Donald Trump in office has changed America’s international reputation and perhaps its future role in a way that seemed unimaginable when he took the oath of office on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial on January 20, 2017.
He set the tone in the drizzle that day: “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.”
Trump’s early decisions were deliberate, turbulent and at times seemed giddy.
Three days after his inauguration, he abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potentially lucrative 12-nation Pacific trade deal. Executive Order 13769 swiftly followed, banning citizens of seven Muslim nations from travel to the US.
So when European Union leaders gathered in Malta for an emergency summit in February 2017, “America First” was very much on their minds. EU Council President Donald Tusk wrote to the bloc’s leaders: “The change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.”
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