How America Lost its Leadership during the Pandemic

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Unlike Hollywood movies where Americans have the lead in saving the world, the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic has shown the opposite. The first major test showed that the American health care system was inferior to the Russian one, created during the Cold War. And while the Kremlin has managed to provide real assistance to a number of European countries, certainly using it for propaganda purposes, Washington’s actions can be characterized as a sign of weakness. In the race for a quality vaccine, Moscow has shown that it is ahead of its competitors, and despite the rigorous blockade, more and more European countries want the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, which proved to be better than Pfizer and Modern.

The United States and Britain have experienced a major slap in the field of science, but from their perspective even more on propaganda. Attempts by Western countries to maintain a monopoly on vaccines in Europe, despite the fact that citizens are dying in large numbers because of that policy, showed how far American diplomacy is ready in sacrificing people in the Western Hemisphere due to the conflict with Russia. Unlike Western vaccines, which cause numerous complications, Sputnik vaccine was rated as far better, which resulted in large agreements between Russia and foreign countries regarding sales and joint production. At the same time, there are simply no reports about similar complications caused by the Russian vaccine, even though the European Commission and Brussels have been keeping a close eye on the effects of its use in European countries, including Serbia and Hungary, which have already taken the first deliveries of the Sputnik V vaccine.

What is the reason for the US demonstrating its weakness? How come that in the midst of the epidemic Washington was unable to find the resources to demonstrate its readiness to lend a helping hand to its European allies? Unfortunately, one of the reasons was that the Americans simply freaked out. The truth is, the US healthcare system is rather decentralized and unorganized. People with good health insurance have little to worry about. However, in a situation of a pandemic, the US medical facilities are pretty hard to manage, so one has to do it manually. Compounded by the general atmosphere of panic and the fact that the poorest strata of society, who have no health insurance and constitute the main risk zone (obesity due to malnutrition, advanced chronic diseases, and other COVID-inducing conditions), the system simply collapsed. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Trump administration tried to keep maximum resources at home. Moreover, the businessman-turned-president, who had openly spoken about “exporting security,” never missed a chance to make it clear to his allies that US assistance is never free. As a result, he was replaced by Biden, a Democrat who advocates maximum support for all democratic forces.

However, Democrats usually provide moral or military support, but they have proved equally unprepared to line up any serious assistance to the countries hit the hardest by the pandemic. Moreover, it was actually at the suggestion of the United States and the UK that the COVAX system, a global initiative aimed at providing equitable (but not free) access to COVID-19 vaccines for countries in need, stalled. It turned out (who might have guessed?) that both the US-developed Moderna and the British AstraZeneca vaccines are primarily needed by their own electorates, and only then by countries that need them but are unable to produce their own vaccine.

Meanwhile, India with a population of over 1 billion, managed to fulfill its obligations, and Russia is ready to launch the production of vaccines in Europe. However, bending under Washington’s pressure, the European Union has banned the import of Russian, Indian and Chinese vaccines, without bothering to explain the reasons for this ban. A country, claiming world domination cannot lead in everything, of course.  Therefore, it is not surprising that the healthcare systems of many European countries, like Sweden and Switzerland, are way better than what they now have in the United States. That being said, the world leader still bears full responsibility for its allies and cannot leave them to their own devices, not only in the event of a military conflict but also in the midst of a pandemic. However, this is exactly what it did…


About the author: Slavisha Batko Milacic is an independent analyst who lives in Podgorica (capital of Montenegro). He is 30 years old and graduated in history at the University of Montenegro. His specialist graduate thesis was: “Foreign Policy of Russia from 1905 to 1917”. Mr. Milacic has been doing analytics for years, writing in English and Serbian about the situation in the Balkans and Europe.  He participated in several seminars for young journalists, organized in the Balkans.

Note: The article originally appears on this webpage and is released in exchange for the donation from the author.

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