By Arab News
By Maria Maalouf*
In order to adequately estimate how much the coronavirus has impacted the US and its different political and strategic implications, there is a need to look at the overall discourse and wide range of views on this medical dilemma. Some suggested that President Donald Trump would fail miserably in responding to this epidemic. Others believe that Trump is cherishing this drama to assert his tenure as being that of a wartime president. Others are warning of a banking collapse, a severe dysfunction of many government services, a cash shortage for the average American family, and an unemployment rate that could reach as high as 30 percent. Yes, America has been hurt badly by the coronavirus. But this is not the end of everything good. The US can recover, and the whole world will overcome this crisis.
Trump and other leading officials were able to present the coronavirus epidemic to the American people as a problem that relates directly to their daily lives, and as something that will change many things in their living conditions. But Trump also conveyed that Americans’ forcefulness and energy would soon restore their ordinary circumstances. There is an advantage for the US in taking the lead in trying to resolve this global public health crisis. The US’ treatment of the coronavirus as a menace threatening its people and all humankind has restored a degree of confidence and respect in its ability to do good in the world.
Trump himself has been able to garner a degree of self-mastery and show the nation that he is working hard to right the wrongs of this virus. His critics, the American left in particular, assumed that he would stumble and be careless about the virus. But he reached out to the Democrats and struck a deal with his arch-enemy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for the government to provide a very generous recovery package worth more than $2 trillion.
The American people, and the whole world, know that the US is managing the coronavirus crisis. People are watching TV and seeing the shutdown in American states and cities, the Dow Jones falling, and Trump making many statements about fighting the virus.
As a scholar of international relations once said, “Every global development invites an American response.” Because the coronavirus is a serious quandary for the world, any success in ending it will be considerable. The crisis is moving within the normal outlines of relations between nations. Even Trump’s designation of the disease as the “Chinese virus” is not too much of a departure from the usual language of rivalry among nations. There is a code of conduct in US-China relations whereby they each engage in propaganda campaigns against the other, but still Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping can call each other, as happened last week, and pledge to cooperate in the fight against coronavirus and ease the tensions between the two countries.
Ultimately, there is one particularly good quality in the speeches coming from the US amid the world’s coronavirus worries — simplicity. The virus is as harmful to us in the US as it is to everyone on the planet. While a number of analysts are trying to project American-Chinese competition on the issue, what matters most to Trump and his team now is a prompt remedy to stop the domestic malaise. Trump himself may even have changed a little bit. While he is still a firm believer in his “America First” political slogan, this is now also grounded in the unity of all nations as the world attempts to terminate a global health threat. Trump and the US are determined to overcome the virus threat. The US recognizes that the coronavirus has started a new page in history; one which is based on treating serious universal threats as sufficient diplomatic grounds for narrowing the differences between nations.
Overall, in handling the coronavirus epidemic, the US is searching for majorities. It wants the majority of countries in the world to appreciate its efforts to defeat this virus, and it desires that the majority of the world’s population acknowledges its sincerity and seriousness. Perhaps America will succeed in these two goals. In the end, the US wants the world and its people to know the truth about the coronavirus. And the truth coming from America can be a little bit more effective if it is persuasive enough and important enough to people’s health and interests, regardless of their nationalities.
- Maria Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist, broadcaster, publisher, and writer. She holds an MA in Political Sociology from the University of Lyon. Twitter: @bilarakib