Many global players are showing their true colors as coronavirus pandemic rages on worldwide. The global situation at present has shown that the United States is seemingly not very keen on cooperating with other nations even if to win the battle against COVID-19. The country is staying true to the motto promoted by Donald Trump before and during his presidency: “America first!”.
The USA does not even deem it necessary to conduct any form of negotiations with its partners on issues to do with “US strategic interests” in order to find solutions acceptable to all. And nowadays, “US strategic interests” promoted by the White House are affecting the entire world. There is an “oil price war”, a “trade war”, a joint fight against the Coronavirus and an executive order signed by Trump granting “American individuals and corporations the right to engage in the commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space”.
In light of all the above, the policies pursued by the current US leader seem completely incomprehensible and unacceptable to Washington’s trans-Atlantic partners and the global community.
Still, it is important to admit that much of this had started before Donald Trump came to power. But no one had wished to raise these issues and instead chose to stay in their “Big Brother’s” good graces in the hopes of “picking up the leftovers off his table”. After World War II, the United States managed to quickly gain a foothold in Europe by introducing the Marshall Plan, actively supported by British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin and France’s Foreign Minister Georges Bidault in 1948. Its aim was to grant financial aid to 17 nations in post-war Europe (including West Germany). As a result, once the United States had provided the Old Continent with over $12 billion, Washington was able to establish its own rules in Western Europe, to push it towards “fortifying” the Iron Curtain and joining NATO, and to essentially purchase “support” of its subsequent policies. The funds transferred to European nations, as part of the Marshall Plan, allowed certain political forces and members of corresponding elite circles to be guided by the United States, and to gain political influence in most Western countries and remain in power to this day.
All of this explains why even today most European countries continue to diligently follow Washington’s lead while pursuing their “own” policies and promoting “their” political propaganda. Even the European Union that boasts of its independence of external influence was created under Washington’s “supervision”.
US and EU leaders said many beautiful words about trans-Atlantic solidarity and commitment to democratic values before the Coronavirus pandemic. There had been political declarations, embraces and handshakes among leaders of the Western world. But none of this is relevant today!
For Washington, words about solidarity were never truly sincere. It was all a sham. After all, American hegemony is driven only by the US desire to fill its own coffers and to consolidate its power at the expense of others, and is best described by the following saying: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.
And those who had been partners just yesterday did not turn into enemies per se, but they certainly did not become friends whose loyalty is tested by misfortune.
Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundestag Waldemar Herdt told Russian media outlets that the “presence of US bases in Europe” was a “covert occupation”. He also said that the United States refused to withdraw its troops from Germany when requested to do so because it was unrealistic to expect that Washington would give up its influence on Germany voluntarily. Waldemar Herdt also claimed that American nuclear weapons were located in Germany, because the latter was “still actually in the state of an occupied country”. The German politician believes that “the world is on the verge of re-division of influence spheres” and the United States is unlikely to lose its interest in Europe.
During the ongoing COVID-19 crisis worldwide, the USA has not been actively collaborating with others on fighting the spread of the Coronavirus. Americans are not the ones providing humanitarian aid in various parts of the world. Russia and China are, and so are a number of other nations that certainly do not have the financial or military clout of the United States. And God only knows how many COVID-19 cases there would be in Europe if Moscow and Beijing had not come to its aid.
Nowadays, the trans-Atlantic divide is noticeable in every way, even within the G20. Its members held online crisis talks on battling the Coronavirus pandemic but, they were not very productive due to the aforementioned rift. The United States has closed itself off from the rest of the world, while EU nations are finding it difficult to find common ground. European countries seem to have forgotten about unity, the core value at the heart of the EU. Member states are not being open with one another, which has exacerbated problems within the EU. Italians are unlikely to forget that Germany initially banned most exports of protective medical equipment to EU member states, including Italy, just as deaths due to the Coronavirus started to mount in the Lombardy region.
Politicians are not the only ones who now see the United States for what this nations really is. And in many ways, the battle against the Coronavirus helped open their eyes.
Recently, a German politician accused Washington of “modern piracy”. It would appear that Berlin’s State Interior Ministry “blamed the US for confiscating 200,000 masks” ordered by the state of Berlin for its police officers “from a US producer when they were in transit through Bangkok”. Andreas Geisel, the State Minister of the Interior of Berlin, referred to the incident as “an act of modern piracy”. He also said: “You cannot act in such a way among transatlantic partners. Such wild west methods can’t dominate, even in a time of global crisis”.
But then again, Germany cannot expect Donald Trump to behave any differently towards it. After all, according to news publisher The Independent, the President suggested “the United States should treat Germany more like an enemy because the two countries were adversaries in World War II”.
The aforementioned incident is not the only time when Donald Trump’s administration has used its power and financial resources to the detriment of the interests of its strategic partners in NATO in order to outbid them and purchase medical equipment that the United States needs. Since Washington is willing to pay top dollar for medical equipment that is in short supply, such goods tend to end up in the United States. Valérie Pécresse, President of the Île-de-France Regional Council, told broadcaster LCI that Americans paid cash upfront for the supplies rather than on delivery, which was more attractive for those just seeking “to turn a profit on the back of the world’s distress”.
French media outlets, such as daily newspaper Libération, have reported on the “war for masks” waged by the United States that has been using underhand tactics reminiscent of the Wild West era. The USA has been outbidding its NATO partners for scarce medical equipment. Relations between the allies really do appear to lack their former “luster”. The United States, with its vast financial resources, is at liberty, at present, to decide who lives and who dies.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took great pains to make a favorable impressions on Donald Trump during his recent visit to the United States. The former referred to Brazil’s relationship with the USA as strategic. But in the end, it was all for show. Recently, Brazil’s Minister of Health Luiz Henrique Mandetta admitted that the nation’s recent attempts to buy ventilators from China failed because of “intense competition for medical supplies” including from the United States.
Political etiquette is a thing of the past in the age of the Coronavirus. The United States is buying up all the scarce medical supplies. Donald Trump has been taking advantage of USA’s vast resources: its fleet of large military aircraft, unlimited amounts of money and the power of the government and private sectors.
Recently, former Senior US State Department Official Heather A. Conley, who currently works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank, called “Mr Trump’s Coronavirus foreign policy approach personality-driven and blame-driven and devastating”. She also said that it would have “great real-world implications for America’s leadership in the world and our allies and partners”.
Vladimir Platov, Middle East expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.