The coronavirus pandemic has already wreaked havoc in all the nations. And one of the key problems faced by many of them has been the inability of the recently elected political elites to effectively deal with the threat that had emerged. As a result, starting from the very first days of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, a lot of people died; nations’ economies lay in ruins; faith in unity in the face of a common threat dissipated, and the possibility of further impoverishment of populations and famine even in countries with only recently strong economies and financial sectors loomed large. Many enterprises did not simply close but went bankrupt, which has led to mass unemployment.
Therefore, it is not surprising that in such a climate, recently, many countries and individuals looked to the United States (a nation that has portrayed itself as a “world leader and guarantor of global security”) in the hopes of receiving at least some aid and a bit of advice on what to do and how to do it from the world power in these hard times.
However, the White House has once again shown the world that America comes first, and started feverishly depriving other countries of face masks and other medical equipment. Instead of leading the united fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington began politicizing it by levelling baseless accusations against China or WHO and blaming them for the outbreak.
Such unprecedented behavior by the “world leader” cannot simply be attributed to shock caused by all the misfortunes that befell the USA because of the pandemic. After all, many of these problems had existed beforehand, but the nation’s leadership deliberately diverted its citizens’ attention from them, and focused instead on enriching themselves, first and foremost, and not on making America great.
Photographs, published by US media outlets, showing seven bodies that were transported in the open back of a pick-up truck “from a local hospital to the medical examiner’s office” in Philadelphia on April 19 have elicited shock at the blatantly disrespectful manner in which these common men who had died in the USA were treated. But how could the US leadership, hiding from its own people behind the walls of expensive houses and elite medical centers, not have known about the state of the nation’s healthcare system and the conditions that an average American lives in?
US media outlets, such as The New York Times, have pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic has once again highlighted the long-standing structural inequalities in American society that have plagued this nation for decades (if not an entire century!). The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has also criticized the USA for the racial wealth divide that still exists in the nation. The BBC report has emphasized that, based on currently available statistics, the numbers of African-Americans who were infected with the coronavirus or who died due to COVID-19 were disproportionately higher than the corresponding figures for white Americans. According to Fox News, the US Congress struggled to pass the coronavirus bill because, apparently, the Democrats had “crammed” it with “totally unrelated political priorities: identity politics, stoking racial divisions,” etc. For instance, their version of the bill required every corporation that received coronavirus aid “to have officers and budget, dedicated to diversity and inclusion initiatives for a minimum of 5 years” after they got the money. CBS and the Los Angeles Times have written about the fact that the number of reports of anti-Asian assaults, harassment and hate crimes increased because perpetrators believed rumors saying Asians were responsible for spreading the coronavirus.
According to Business Insider, thousands of Americans have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a result, charity organizations that deliver food to the needy are facing mounting pressure. CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank Eric Cooper said that he had never seen a line for food that long. A record ten thousand cars waited hours for emergency food aid from his organization recently. Feeding America estimates that an additional 17.1 million people will experience food insecurity in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a much greater and more wide-spread impact on the US economy than originally forecast by many experts. The coronavirus outbreak has become a real “stress test” for the American economy. In fact, White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett has openly admitted that the unemployment rate in the country could reach Great Depression levels (seen 90 years ago).
A 4.8 % reduction in USA’s GDP during the first quarter in 2020 is simply a foreshadow of worst to come. Kyle Shostak, the Managing Director at Navigator Principal Investors (an investment advisory company), has apparently said that the decrease could be almost 10 times higher in the second quarter of this year.
Recently, US national debt has reached a record high, and countries that are dependent on the dollar are already panicking because they are at a greater risk of falling into debt distress, and this would deal a massive blow to the global economy. The ability to print US dollars “non-stop” has seemingly become USA’s trump card. Whenever the nation needs extra funds, it starts issuing more and more money, which can lead to inflation. Experts from Sohu, a Chinese internet services company, have opined that if the United States continues to “print” money, the US dollar may potentially collapse by the end of the year. Apparently, they have also said that if more countries were to start realizing this and abandoning the dollar, the effect the American currency has on the global economy would weaken.
According to CNN, on April 22, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a hard line” “against more funding for state and local governments in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak”. In a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, he said: “I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route”.
Although the Trump administration, with its virtually unlimited financial tools, is taking serious measures to save the country’s economy, at this stage, these steps seem inadequate and long overdue owing to the unwieldiness of the government’s bureaucracy, thus turning, in reality, into a strategic factor of the presidential election campaign.
It would, therefore, be unreasonable, at present, to expect the situation in the United States to improve unless, of course, Washington, in pursuit of its “America first!” policies, starts using other countries, as it usually does, to achieve its own goals. In fact, a harsher tone was used by the White House during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s press briefing on April 29. He said that if any nations or individual(s) were wrongfully detaining Americans during the current crisis and they became infected and died, the US would hold the government in question strictly responsible for their deaths.
Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.