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06/06/2020

Goodbye American Dream

Goodbye American Dream

The chaos that was unleashed following the murder of George Floyd quickly spread across all 50 US states. The country has been left in a whirl-wind. Protesters in Washington DC marched towards the White House, where American flags were burnt in the yard. Everyone seems to agree that this is the end of whatever was left of the ‘American dream’.

In the United States, the new center of the Coronavirus pandemic in the world, the number of cases has now surpassed 1.9 million, while the number of coronavirus deaths has reached 111,000. While the country is struggling with the pandemic crisis and an economic crisis, it now must also contend with the firestorm unleashed in response to the video of Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police.

Across Minnesota, Detroit, New York, California, Kentucky, Texas, Oregon, Florida, Georgia, Washington DC and many other cities, thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand ‘justice’. In some states, police stations were set on fire. In Atlanta, protestors stormed CNN headquarters. In Washington, thousands of protestors gathered in front of the White House and knocked down the barricades while clashing with the police forces, some burning American flags. The White House was put under lock-down as the protests intensified. Curfews have been declared in a total of 40 cities. The Pentagon announced that it had ordered the Military to stay alert in case they are called in to deal with the protests.

The image of burnt flags in front of the White House brought many to the conclusion that the ‘American Dream’ has come to an end. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a profound and global psychological crisis, bringing the stability of the current world order itself into question: it has also led many to make predictions about the next world order. The destruction caused by the pandemic, especially in the West, has shaken the system constructed on neo-liberal economic policies, the imperialist-capitalist system and the cultural-moral values it entails. The EU spokesperson has described the current period as “the dawn of the Asian century”, some American thinkers are making assertions that “the global hegemony of the United States” is over.

The protests sparked by Floyd’s murder that quickly spread across the nation are in actuality the result of the collapse of the American system and its global hegemony. The coronavirus pandemic has brought to light the US’ crisis in healthcare, economics, politics, the military, etc. The New York Times published an article entitled “This pandemic did not create a crisis in the US system, it has revealed the already-existing crisis” which succinctly expressed this point.

THE HEALTHCARE CRISIS

While the Coronavirus pandemic has tested the limits of the health systems around the world, the United States was the least successful in this aspect and has ‘failed’, as many in the American media have put it. The nation has become the new center of the pandemic in the world and is likely to hold this position. Across the United States, the number of cases have surpassed 1.9 million, leaving more than 111,000 people dead.

The US healthcare system collapsed at the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government unable to distribute aid. In New York State, the center of the pandemic within the United States, pictures of the excavation for mass graves for victims shocked the world. Another terrifying picture that was stuck in everyone’s mind was that of a morgue reaching its full capacity and bodies being held in the hallways of the building. Later on, some supplementary tents were set up for the bodies while mobile morgues were shipped from abroad. As the impacts of the pandemic went on, a billboard was set up by the filmmaker Eugene Jarecki in Times Square, the city’s world-famous landmark, broadcasting the “Trump Death Clock”.

Healthcare professionals could not obtain proper medical supplies such as protective aprons, forcing some to craft handmade aprons from the plastic bags. Nurses protested in front of the White House to little avail, and the photograph of an 18-year-old who couldn’t afford to go to the hospital and subsequently died is still fresh in our minds.

According to Department of Health and Human Services data, 62,690 healthcare professionals in the country were diagnosed with the virus, 294 of which died. Keep in mind that these are only the official numbers, and most believe the actual numbers to have been much higher. National Nurses United, the country’s largest union of nurses, using only public data, found that 530 healthcare professionals died. Also, 87% of the total 23,000 nurses reported having to use single-use equipment over and over while treating the Covid-19 patients, and 72% reported that they had to be in direct contact with patients because of the lack of equipment, according to data cited by the National Nurses Association. Healthcare professionals note that no alternative has been put forward despite the obvious crisis.

THE ECONOMIC CRISIS

According to data released by the US Department of Labor, applications for unemployment benefits on May 23 had reached 2.123 million, while in the last 10 weeks, this number reached a total of 40.746 million.

Yearly housing sales dropped 33.8% in April, the largest decline since the January 2001, when this data was announced.

The Chair of the US Federal Reserve Jerome Powell said that a recession has been predicted up to 30% in the second quarter of this year. Powell also said that a decrease of the US gross domestic product (GDP) could be seen between 20 and 30%. The chair of the FED said that a vaccine against the virus must be found for the American economy to completely recover from this crisis.

Meanwhile, the Former Chair of the FED Ben Bernanke said it was going to be “a very bad year”. According to Bernanke, it will take many years for the US economy to reach its former level.

THE POLITICAL CRISIS

The deepening crisis has led to a public reaction against the government in every region of the country. There is a high level of disapproval of the government, which has been unable to find a solution to the crisis, unable to take the necessary measures, and is more worried about companies maintaining profits than the mass deaths.

There is an ongoing argument between the Democrats and the Republicans about who is responsible for the crisis. This argument has turned into a fight between the federal government and state administrations. Some states have loosened their pandemic measures and have opened up their economies, while others were in favor of continuation of the quarantine. In the past month, in Michigan, several gunmen have raided the Statehouse, demanding the measures be lifted.

One strategy American politicians have employed to escape responsibility before the election is to blame China and the World Health Organization (WHO). In an article published by the New York Times on April 18, the headline descriptively read “The American election strategy to blame China”. The article stated that American politicians want to channel public anger caused by the loss of lives and the economic sufferings of the coronavirus pandemic towards China, and away from themselves.

A study shows that 42% of participants say that chaos has taken over the White House, and that their trust for it has weakened. Only 11% of participants approved of the administration’s efforts.

On the other hand, the political crisis has also led to institutional infighting. A high-level flame war has sparked between Trump and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the country’s major instruments of media hegemony. Trump signed a bill calling for more intensive restrictions on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, while saying “I would shut down Twitter, if it were able to be legally shut down.” Twitter, on the other hand, suspended some of Trump’s posts from the previous day.

THE GLOBAL CRISIS

The United States, which has proven unable to deal with its internal crises, is also having a lot of issues conducting its regular program of blatantly intervening in the affairs of sovereign states around the globe. It is more or less a fact that the United States has lost its global hegemony. Having lost its former global influence, the US is becoming verbally aggressive, while its relations with European nations are gradually collapsing.

At the 73rd World Health Assembly, a decision of cooperation and solidarity among the 140 countries was concluded, while the US was left isolated. The Secretary General of the European Union, the Secretary General of the United Nations and various European leaders criticized the aggressive and hostile attitude of the United States individually. Two days ago, German Chancellor Merkel said that the EU’s relations with the United States are experiencing a great deal of difficulty, while urging Europe to take responsibility. Merkel also announced that she would not attend the G7 summit at the White House.

EU High Representative Borrell admitted that the dawning “Asian century” is the end of the global system led by the United States, and that Europe is facing a pressure to choose sides between Washington and Beijing.

Foreign Policy, the mouth-piece of US foreign policy, wrote that “In the post-pandemic Cold War, the United States is losing Europe”.

The United States is also losing its closest allies and influence on important institutions such as the World Health Organization. Donald Trump said that the World Health Organization had not fulfilled American demands for a “major substantial reform”, adding, “Today we are ending our relations with the World Health Organization.”

THE US HAS LOST EVERY WAR IT FOUGHT FOR OVER 20 YEARS

The internal crisis in the United States has a direct connection to its failures in the foreign policy. The US economy, which is fed via constant wars, is now unable to get a grip. The United States was the sole superpower in the world after 1991, but was not fated to hold its position for long. After the September 11 attack, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq proved to be little more than an effort to further delay the inevitable collapse. The United States carried out these invasions not to establish a new world order, but to prevent any powers from emerging that might stand in the way. However, it did not achieve its goals in Afghanistan and in Iraq. It was forced to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and in Iraq, a new trend emerged in which the Eurasian forces have gained influence. The US policy of rapprochement with Russia against China, and rapprochement with China against Russia have also collapsed, as has the strategy of using Turkey against Iran, and using Syria against Turkey before 2011, and vise-versa afterward.

Most importantly, the US’s project to create a second Israel, which is at the center of all the US strategy, has resulted in a disappointment. The dreams of a puppet state, from the north of Iraq, to the Mediterranean coast of Syria and then to the southeastern part of Turkey, has fallen apart thanks to Turkey’s military determination and its alliances with the powers of West Asia. The Astana Process, which was the key step in Turkey’s split from the Atlantic camp and rapprochement to Eurasia, changed the balance of power throughout the world. Russia and China, which Turkey has begun to shift toward economically, have also become allies for its interests in national security. The US’ plans to partition Syria have been suspended. The aggressive policies of the US against Russia and Iran have led to controversy among European countries. US-European relations are experiencing their most serious difficulties since the Second World War.

These did not begin with the Trump administration, and will not end with it. European leaders have also argued about NATO. A separate structure for the European security has long been on the agenda. The United States has made a fool of itself in the eyes of the world with its recent coup attempt in Venezuela. Its military interventions in South America, which was once called America’s backyard, are now being repelled. Their recent attempts to prevent Iranian oil tankers from reaching Venezuela also failed.

The US cannot manage its own country and cannot interfere with global developments. Its complete collapse seems inevitable.

 

Elif İlhamoğlu
Elif İlhamoğlu is political scientist and  journalist (Turkey). She is studying for PHD on the political science and international relations department at Istanbul University (Middle East studies). She visited Middle East countries, Syria, Lebanon, Iran several times and did interviews with the leaders as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hilal al-Hilal Secretary General of the Syrian Ba'ath Party.

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