21 February 2021   Leave a comment

The image of the US declined precipitously among most countries during the Trump Administration and the decline was most obviously related to the poor management of the COVID pandemic. The Pew Research Center polled citizens in 13 nations and found that only “15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak. In contrast, most say the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis (the U.S. and UK are notable exceptions). Relatively few think China has handled the pandemic well, although it still receives considerably better reviews than the U.S. response.”

The image of the US has been further damaged by the ineptitude of Texas officials in handling the deep freeze that the state suffered last week, a situation that continues to unravel as Texas citizens deal with water shortages and high energy bills. US News and World Reports summarizes how the Texas crisis has undermined the US image abroad:

“The Kremlin early Thursday took aim at American concerns in recent years at the Russian energy pipeline known as Nord Stream 2, which runs from its territory through the Baltic Sea and into key U.S. allies, notably Germany.

“‘It probably makes sense for our American partners to be less interested in Nord Stream 2 and to a greater extent be interested in the events in Houston, Texas, [its] energy and heat supply,’ Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters Thursday morning. And, taking a dig at a state that prides itself on its energy independence, he added: ‘Of course, gas [supplies] would not be in that way here.’

“Iran, which U.S. officials privately say was behind this week’s attack on an American base in Iraq, ran an almost gleeful gallery on the home page of its state news service entitled, ‘More Than 3.5 Million Texans Are STILL Without Power, Storm Death Toll Hits 23.’ It includes pictures of the widespread devastation in Texas wrought by the historic cold temperatures and broad outages.

“And China’s state-run Global Times published an op-ed Thursday morning blasting the massive electric grid failures in the Lone Star State, which have caused two dozen deaths and left more than 3 million without power amid bone-chilling cold temperatures in an area largely unaccustomed to severe winters. The plight of its citizens shows that China and others should no longer look to the U.S. for an example of leadership, it claimed.

“‘It is a severe natural disaster after all, and we cannot say that the U.S. is an ugly country just because many Americans are also suffering from man-made calamities. But what is happening there has undoubtedly shown that the U.S. is an ordinary country with serious shortcomings,’ according to the outlet, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party but is not considered a mouthpiece for it. ‘Actually, every country has its own problems, so the U.S. should focus on solving its own woes rather than denouncing other countries.'”

It remains to be seen how the Texas crisis will change the views of Americans toward the role of government in daily affairs. The collapse of the energy sector was unquestionably related to the desire of some Texas officials to pursue deregulation of an important part of the state’s infrastructure. Rather than characterizing the role of government regulation as “socialist”, it might be better for Americans to regard the role of government as beneficial and necessary.

Posted February 21, 2021 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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