When Donald Trump, who came to power in January 2017, began to voice notions about “exporting security” and “American interests above all else”, many in Europe and other countries breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed as if the global “export of democracy” was over, and a pragmatic business professional had come to Washington in order to establish a balanced and rational dialogue between both allies and opponents.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the US “pragmatism” goes hand in hand with unprofessionalism. In the course of the fight against the disease, Washington at first announced a withdrawal from the World Health Organization and then demonstrated a markedly inadequate ability to mobilize its own resources to counter the pandemic. In addition, there was nothing done to dilute the rumour which was spread all around the world: a number of American politicians may have been quite right about the imperfections of the US health care system. After all, all the attempts at rescuing American medical institutions, like the Obama’s health care insurance program, has not been not a success.
Evidently, the pandemic turned out to be a very harsh challenge for the global economy. In addition, there is now the “vaccine race” and the associated information war. Meanwhile, the position of the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, turned out to be quite weak in this race.
Washington and London effectively sabotaged all agreements on the COVAX system, which provides for the distribution of vaccines to countries which cannot produce them on their own. But there is a logical explanation: the longer it takes for countries’ authorities to vaccinate their population, the more the pandemic and closed borders and the consequences will ripen into a full-blown economic recession.
Interestingly, the change of administration in the United States did not particularly affect their policy regarding the pandemic. The US-developed vaccine Moderna is being pushed hard by its lobby – at the expense of other vaccines, much more effective and cheaper than the US-developed one. However, medical assistance on a large scale to the countries most in need still has not been provided, while the American politicians adore selling the image of the US as the “global saviour”. But the “saviour” is apparently not in any hurry to save the world.
Moreover, there has been a message from Biden’s entourage that the “export of democracy” would continue. But for once American officials should seriously consider the existence of other global players, Russia being one the most vivid examples – with its Sputnik vaccine.
The worldwide production and distribution of Sputnik from the Russian Federation could become a serious obstacle for American geopolitical plans. In fact, the US’s obvious weakness in the fight against the pandemic is not a pervasive problem. Elite medicine in North America is quite good. At the same time, the Americans themselves, unlike the Europeans, are not used to free social health care. In that sense, both Trump and Biden provided a minimum to those most in need – the poorest classes of the American society received $1500 as a social grant.
But the White House, unlike Russia, has not done a single thing to support foreign nations in their struggle against the Coronavirus. Naturally, Washington has its reasons for such inactivity. First of all, the European health care system is historically much better than the American one, while coming to the aid of Africa and Latin America has never been a big priority for the US. Secondly, even if the United States had wanted to send scores of military doctors to Europe, the pandemic would have not been stopped. Also, the risk of a national outrage would have been quite high. And, finally, even the distribution of the American vaccine in huge batches would not have changed the US geopolitical position much. Washington has spent decades building an obedient and controlled political establishment across Europe, and it is not going anywhere. It is much more convenient for the White House to “improve” its image by calling military manoeuvres and confronting the “common enemy” anyway.
Thus, selfishness which is based on rigid calculation, has guided the White House’s policy in the international fight against the pandemic so far, regardless of who happens to sit in the Oval Office.