Opinion: World Distances from U.S. Amidst Pandemic

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

What was once deemed the most powerful and one of the most developed countries in the modern world now suffers a brutal new reality — the world is distancing itself from the United States.

Travel Bans

Being one of the most apparent consequences of the pandemic, the vast amount of travel bans on civilian travelers originating from the U.S. due to its struggle to contain the coronavirus has been an embarrassment for America. Considering that the U.S. boasted one of the most powerful passports prior to the age of COVID-19, it is clear that the U.S.’s place in the global view is plummeting from that of a superior nation and role model to nearly that of a struggling developing country.

As of September 2020, a mere seven countries are open without restriction to American travelers: Albania, Belarus, Brazil, Mexico, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and Zambia.

However, the hope for American travelers devastated by the restrictions remains. As the world cautiously opens up to tourism while closely examining the health threats that each country’s citizens could impose, several countries are beginning to sanction entry by American travelers and tourists, albeit with certain restrictions in place. Such restrictions include mandatory 14-day isolation, entry fees, and required documentation proving negative coronavirus tests a certain number of days before arrival. Even so, the vast majority of countries remain closed to American tourists at this time, with several countries — including India and Russia — remaining closed to all foreign travelers in light of their own struggles with containing the virus.

Political & Economic Distrust

By far, one of the most detrimental effects on the U.S. concerning international politics, the growing distrust of the U.S. and its government as a result of the pandemic, has proved consequential.

Recent studies by the Pew Research Center indicate that world leaders such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of Communist China are now more trusted than President Trump. This places the U.S. in a critical situation, seeing as its international image of strength and superiority was maintained rather consistently throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. American pundits and politicians alike can simply hope that the U.S.’s plummet in its international image is temporary.

Questions with respect to what would occur should this trend of the U.S.’s descent in the global view continue can be answered with various potential consequences. First and foremost, the U.S. has been the conflict mediator for almost every large-scale international conflict in modern history. Examples across the years include its intervention in conflicts in Vietnam, Korea, Europe, Africa, and, in particular, the Middle East. This reputation of being the leader and conflict mediator of the world could expire should it continue this path of being recognized in the “bad books” of the international political community.

Furthermore, while the U.S.’s economic status as the most developed and wealthy country in the world could decline alongside its image, such a phenomenon would likely occur due to its increasing as mentioned above distrust in the world view.

Additionally, the simultaneous increasing distrust of countries such as China was condemned by the international community for being secretive about the looming pandemic in January, when the virus was mostly contained to China and other parts of East and Southeast Asia. As distrust of such countries simultaneously grows, countries who were behind in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the current economic giants of the world — China and the U.S. — have a reasonable opportunity to grow their GDPs and surpass China and the U.S.

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