One Big Thing: Is the United States losing its global leadership role due to COVID-19?
Join the conversation and take our poll
What is it?
- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have global effects, questions have been raised about how the outbreak has affected the United States’ place in the world order.
- Many experts have called for a global response to the outbreak as many global health organizations have struggled to juggle medical, logistical, and political issues when dealing with the crisis.
- Prior to the pandemic, global approval of U.S. leadership, according to Gallup, had been on the decline.
Why is it important?
- In times of crisis for the past 75+ years, the United States been the global leader, extending a helping hand to countries and people that needed it most. The best example, of course, is the Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild Western Europe after WWII.
- Turning our backs to global crises is not in our best interest as it allows for authoritarian countries to fill the void where the U.S. has traditionally led.
- Despite several early public missteps in dealing with the outbreak, China has made efforts to restore its international reputation and expand its global influence while the U.S. is perceived to have turned away in favor of an isolationist strategy. China’s new best asset in its pursuit of global leadership is the assumed inward focus of U.S. policy.
- Criticizing China might be a distraction and disadvantageous from the goal of finding a cure for COVID-19 as cooperation between the U.S. and China is needed to fight the pandemic. However, the fact remains, China has one of the worst human rights records in the world and praising a country with one of the worst human rights records should be done with extreme caution.
- The United States is at its best when it confronts global issues with an open hand, whether it was President Kennedy’s establishment of the Peace Corp and USAID or President George W. Bush’s response to combatting the AIDS pandemic through PEPFAR. American leadership for global good should remain strong.
What can you do?
- Find out how the United States leads around the globe to support a better world:
- United States Agency for International Development
- Peace Corps
- U.S. International Development Finance Corporation
- Millennium Challenge Corporation
- Learn more about how COVID-19 may have lasting effects on U.S. global power from Foreign Policy.
- Keep track of the virus’s spread from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and Facebook and Carnegie Melon University’s new COVID-19 Tracker.
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