Irish Examiner View: No one is thanking America

Blame is Trump’s favourite game and this is another attempt to deflect from his gross ineptitude and, in particular, his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Irish Examiner View: No one is thanking America
Trump’s petty description of the crisis as “the Chinese virus” is another blame-shifting tactic bound to fail.

The decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw US funding to the World Health Organisation is a crime against humanity that has shocked right-thinking people around the world.

In an unusually angry tweet, Tánaiste Simon Coveney describes it as “indefensible” and shocking in the midst of a global pandemic.

“Now is a time for global leadership & unity to save lives, not division and blame!” he wrote.

But blame is Trump’s favourite game and this is another attempt to deflect from his gross ineptitude and, in particular, his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is also further proof that bombast is no substitute for brains. Trump is brilliant at self-promotion but useless at giving leadership in a crisis, a rare political savant on the world stage.

Unlike China, the US had advance warning that the virus was coming, but, rather than take action, Trump downplayed the threat, declaring that it would be over within a few weeks.

He and his fellow Americans are now reaping the catastrophic results of his dithering as the virus is likely to claim as many American lives as the Vietnam War.

Trump’s petty description of the crisis as “the Chinese virus” is another blame-shifting tactic bound to fail as it ignores the fact that for most of the world what matters is not where or how the pandemic started, but how it will end.

His increasingly unhinged pronouncements about China also exemplify his obsession with winning some kind of global power-play, echoing his 2016 election campaign pledge to “make America great again”.

In fact, he has diminished a great country and shamed a great nation. All he has achieved is to make America look like a villain and give the Chinese a unique opportunity to gain geopolitical currency and be seen as a humanitarian world power.

Even before the crisis, his pathological dislike of the EU extended to encouraging Brexiteers in the UK. There was no longer any doubt the EU could not trust the US, let alone depend on it. That allowed China to move into the global vacuum left by the US, offering leadership, advice, and practical assistance.

It was the Chinese who, by instituting a draconian lockdown in the province of Wuhan, showed Europeans how to contain the virus.

It was Chinese, not American, doctors who flew to Rome and Tehran to help those cities during the crisis; it was Chinese, not American, medical aids that were sent to Ireland and other European countries.

Critics will deride Chinese help as a cynical effort to gain global influence while many will rightly complain about the poor quality of some material sent from Chinese factories.

But they could have refused to help altogether, citing concerns of a second wave of the virus.

Therefore, it was China, not the US, that was thanked by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, and it was Xi Jinping who Leo Varadkar rang to thank, not Donald Trump.

No European nation asked, let alone thanked the Americans for help.

When this crisis finally passes, it will be China, not America, that will emerge as the geopolitical superpower. When that happens, Trump will only have himself to blame.

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