What Did More Damage to the World: COVID-19 or Trump?
Out of all the hot topics in international life over recent times, there are most likely two that vie with each other for primacy: COVID-19 and Trump.
The website Worldometers.info reports that in one year of the pandemic, more than 2 million people have already passed away because of COVID-19.
Now the United States is experiencing a severe outbreak of the coronavirus infection: the average daily mortality rate in the country has exceeded 3,000 people. However, it is expected that the situation will become even more exacerbated, and due to that the holidays, hospitals, and doctors are preparing for an influx of patients, which is only increasing, as a consequence of the holidays. In this situation, American medical workers who served in the military recall their missions to Iraq and the horrors of the war there, reports ABC News.
As the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic has shown, American capitalism no longer serves most Americans. At the same time, the well-educated elite live longer and more prosperous lives, while less educated Americans (and that is two-thirds of the population!) die at younger ages, and experience hardships physically, economically, and socially, Project Syndicate emphasizes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has depleted the capacity of medical centers, in particular in Los Angeles County, where they have decided not to hospitalize people if their chances of survival are low. Los Angeles ambulance crews were even advised to limit the quantities of supplemental oxygen that they provide to patients with the coronavirus to save money, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing the local authorities.
Besides the overall significant losses incurred by the American economy during the pandemic, passenger traffic in the New York subway has decreased by 70%, leading to losses of 3.4 billion USD, writes Die Welt The city’s subway administration stated that every second subway line is under the threat of being shut down. For comparison, during the financial crisis of 2008, the metro incurred losses that amounted to 400 million USD. The pandemic hit all economic spheres in New York, and across the United States as a whole. New York’s budget is sorely lacking in funds, so the authorities have to cut costs on everything.
“The pandemic entails a stronger, more universal shock than the 2008 financial crisis and September 11, 2001, which only gave a good scare to part of the world. For the first time, all of humanity fears that same thing – and at the same time! It seems to me that there have been massive clashes and trauma, whose long-term consequences could be enormous,” said Hubert Vedrine, who used to be France’s foreign minister from 1997 to 2002 and is the head of a geostrategic consulting company, in an interview with Le Figaro.
The charity organization Save the Children has called for assistance to return children from poor countries back to schools that have been closed due to the pandemic – otherwise these children risk becoming a lost generation. Children who are not currently attending school could become future doctors, scientists, or drivers. According to estimates from this NGO, reopening schools for 136 million of these children would cost 300 EUR per student, and the total cost would be 50 billion USD.
The coronavirus pandemic disrupted the previous trajectory the course of world development was taking, paving the way for radical change and ushering in remote work, distance learning, and an explosive growth in online commerce. In 2019, for example, it was believed that only by 2050 China would become impervious to the United States, and that in 2035 China’s GDP would equal that in the United States in absolute terms. But even by the end of 2020 it had become clear that China’s GDP would equal the United States’ much earlier (possibly by 2025-2028), and would become impervious to it by 2030.
However, according to the conclusion reached by many inhabitants on the planet, not only has the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the previous trajectory taken by world development, but so did the “Trump presidency”, which was a terrifying tornado that passed through not only the United States, but throughout the world.
The assessment given by Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth was that Donald Trump’s presidency has been a disaster for human rights. As HRW experts report, the list of humanitarian violations that the organization charges the outgoing American president with is very extensive. According to this organization, at home the American president has neglected his duty to provide protection to people fleeing violence and danger, and his policies have destroyed refugee families, and separated children from their parents. Donald Trump is also accused of helping reinforce right-wing radicals in the United States, inciting hatred against minorities while disregarding the incidents of systematic racism on the part of the police, which specifically resulted in incidents such as the death of African-American George Floyd, and other similar cases that have led to the largest protests against racism in the United States over the past few decades. Moreover, besides the blame for the deaths of more than 300,000 Americans from COVID-19 (which is 1.82% of the country’s population, and more than the losses suffered by the United States during WWII), fundamental inequality manifested itself through the fault of Trump during this pandemic, and black people and members of other minorities have been affected by this.
Even the US Department of Defense has been hit by the “Trump tornado”. As Politico points out, the Pentagon has faced a rise in extremism in its ranks, accompanied in particular by the growing popularity of ideas concerning the supremacy of the white race. In this regard, the Department of Defense is currently trying to understand how acute this problem has become specifically during the years of Trump’s presidency. This issue has been especially high on the agenda following recent reports that former military personnel were involved in the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill.
“Donald Trump has committed a series of actions that hit international institutions and America itself, but it will not be possible to simply hit the rewind button and return everything to the state before Trump,” believes international diplomat and expert Lakhdar Brahimi. For example, the fact that he announced the US withdrawal from the WHO in the midst of a pandemic, breaking the “nuclear deal” with Iran, and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. To date, only one disarmament treaty remains between Russia and the United States: he signed off on many sanctions imposed on Russia, withdrew from the ABM Treaty, the Treaty on Open Skies, and the INF Treaty – and was apparently ready to withdraw from the START Treaty. In brief, to find at least something positive for the Russian Federation during the Trump presidency is, to put it mildly, a difficult task. Through the fault of Donald Trump, today the United States has strained relations with China, the UN, and according to Brahimi nowadays it can no longer manage conflicts, or help resolve them – and many of its mechanisms no longer function.
Ultimately, America is divided now, and President Biden will not be able to reassemble it over the next four years, nor will he be able to raise from the dead the more the than 300,000 Americans who have already died from COVID-19, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Middle East that have perished owing to prolonged armed aggression that Trump never did put a halt to.
Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
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