Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which he once dismissed as a hoax, has been fiercely criticised at home as woefully inadequate to the point of irresponsibility.
Yet also thanks largely to Trump, a parallel disaster is unfolding across the world: the ruination of America’s reputation as a safe, trustworthy, competent international leader and partner.
Call it the Trump double-whammy. Diplomatically speaking, the US is on life support.
“The Trump administration’s self-centred, haphazard, and tone-deaf response [to Covid-19] will end up costing Americans trillions of dollars and thousands of otherwise preventable deaths,” wrote Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard.
“But that’s not the only damage the United States will suffer. Far from ‘making America great again’, this epic policy failure will further tarnish [its] reputation as a country that knows how to do things effectively.”
This adverse shift could be permanent, Walt warned. Since taking office in 2017, Trump has insulted America’s friends, undermined multilateral alliances and chosen confrontation over cooperation. Sanctions, embargoes and boycotts aimed at China, Iran and Europe have been globally divisive.