A sober American leader — looking at the scale of the crisis she faced at home, recognizing that she had to contend not just with a novel virus but a fractured political system, under-invested health and local government infrastructure, and a public that wants results at the speed of an iPhone — might decide now was a good time to signal firmness but calm to the world. Ideally, she would also be calling, humbly, for global partnership to fight the virus and offering other societies the opportunity to learn from what the United States has so far gotten wrong.
Instead, of course, President Trump rolled out travel sanctions on Europe — but not on all of the countries where COVID-19 is most prevalent, only the ones that have an open-border arrangement whose internationalism he and his advisers despise. (That division also, conveniently, exempts countries where he owns resort properties.) Not only is he not cooperating with our European allies, he didn’t tell them first. The next president now has the unenviable task of convincing both our allies and our potential opponents that although Washington wouldn’t take the risk of letting Europeans into our country, the U.S. really would send Americans to fight and die if, say, Russia invaded Latvia.
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