Pompeo, Trump won't help fill international leadership void

The very idea of international leadership during a pandemic is daunting, but what's striking is the degree to which the White House isn't trying.

Over the weekend, Politico had a good piece on how previous American presidents took on global leadership roles, helping rally international partners against common threats. Donald Trump, the article added, "has chosen a different path" in the midst of a global pandemic.

[T]he United States, led by President Donald Trump and his America First vision, is focused more on the virus' internal challenge than its global impact. Instead of rallying the world, as it has in the past on major challenges, the U.S. is brawling with other countries affected by the crisis.... [P]oliticians are insulting one another, and no country is taking charge.

To be sure, the very idea of international leadership during a pandemic is daunting, but what's striking is the degree to which the White House isn't trying.

For example, there was a G-7 video conference yesterday, where diplomatic leaders from the world's largest industrialized democracies discussed coordinated efforts to address the coronavirus crisis. The discussion did not go as well as it could have.

The Associated Press reported, "U.S. and European diplomats said the [foreign] ministers were unable to agree on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's call for the virus to be identified by name as the 'Wuhan virus.' As a result, just a day after G-7 finance ministers and central bankers issued a joint communique referring to the COVID-19 virus, the foreign ministers opted against releasing a group statement."

A Washington Post report added that the other members of the international organization balked at the U.S. rhetorical effort "because they viewed it as needlessly divisive at a time when international cooperation is required to slow the global pandemic and deal with the scarcity of medical supplies."

What's more, it's not just the G-7. NBC News reported soon after on developments at the U.N. Security Council, where the Trump administration's delegation has "triggered a stalemate as the global body seeks to cobble together a response to the pandemic." The report added, "Talks among U.N. Security Council nations over a joint declaration or resolution on the coronavirus have stalled over U.S. insistence that it explicitly state that the virus originated in Wuhan, China, as well as exactly when it started there."

Failed leadership, alienated allies, and misplaced priorities are the opposite of what's needed right now.