“When people see these pictures of New York City they say, ‘How can this happen? How is this possible?’” said Henrik Enderlein, president of the Berlin-based Hertie School, a university focused on public policy. “We are all stunned. Look at the jobless lines. Twenty-two million,” he added.
The pandemic sweeping the globe has done more than take lives and livelihoods from New Delhi to New York. It is shaking fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism — the special role the United States played for decades after World War II as the reach of its values and power made it a global leader and example to the world.
And in the United States, it has exposed two great weaknesses that, in the eyes of many Europeans, have compounded one another: the erratic leadership of Mr. Trump, who has devalued expertise and often refused to follow the advice of his scientific advisers, and the absence of a robust public health care system and social safety net.
The country that defeated fascism in Europe 75 years ago next month, and defended democracy on the continent in the decades that followed, is doing a worse job of protecting its own citizens than many autocracies and democracies.
Ms. Merkel, like everyone, would like to find a way out, too, but this week she warned Germans to remain cautious. She is listening to the advice of a multidisciplinary panel of 26 academics from Germany’s national academy of science. The panel includes not just medical experts and economists but also behavioral psychologists, education experts, sociologists, philosophers and constitutional experts.
A pandemic is a very specific kind of stress test for political systems, said Mr. Garton Ash, the history professor. The military balance of power has not shifted at all. The United States remains the world’s largest economy. And it was entirely unclear what global region would be best equipped to kick-start growth after a deep recession.
This content was originally published here.