Since World War II, and arguably earlier, America has been the world’s leader. Until the Trump administration came along that is. Trump singlehandedly destroyed our world leadership position under the banner of America First which in his application meant America alone. Unilaterally giving up the number one slot only played into Vladimir Putin’s hands. Russia can only “advance in the standings” if the leaders come back to it. You have to wonder if that was an accident or an arrangement. All that aside the pandemic has presented the Biden administration for an opportunity to regain a position of global leadership.
Any way you slice it America will have more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine than it needs. It is in both our health and diplomatic interests to help vaccine the world.
From the health perspective it is both simple and abundantly apparent. A pandemic is by definition global. America is not and never will be hermetically sealed. If you do not control the virus everywhere sooner or later it will reappear everywhere. Mexico and Canada sharing large borders with America are obvious. If you consider trade are Europe, China or India any less important? I won’t even get into the moral discussion today.
Many of our allies are no longer as trusting of America as they had been for decades prior to 2017. NATO has been the cornerstone of western military defense since the end of World War II and under Trump there was serious reason to wonder if America would live up to its obligations under the pact if the need arose. While there is no doubt America is the power player in the pact interestingly the only time Article Five (the mutual defense article) of the pact was invoked was after 9/11 and America was the beneficiary.
It appears that our allies trust Joe Biden personally. Why wouldn’t they; they have dealt with him for decades. What they are still apprehensive about (and with good cause) is what if America takes a huge swing on its political pendulum and elects another Trump in 2024? Our allies can’t run their foreign and defense policies on “short term contracts”.
Under Biden’s management and leadership (both of which were AWOL and/or non-existent under Trump) we are well on the road to getting the pandemic under control at home. Now it is time to help the rest of the world.
To date American emergency authorization – and if a global pandemic that has claimed well over 500,000 American lives isn’t an emergency, then I don’t know what is – has been granted to three vaccines. Other vaccines have been approved for use in other countries. We either have some of them in stock or are contracted to receive them. Since we have an adequate supply to meet American demand why wouldn’t we distribute them around the world. If you want to make friends saving their lives and economy is a good place to start.
This is similar to the instructions a parent gets on an airplane. In the event of the oxygen masks dropping from the ceiling get your mask on first and then secure your child’s. You can’t help anyone else until you have relatively secured yourself. America first but certainly not alone! The pandemic has been a global disaster but for the Biden administration it has an opportunity within it.
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