Foreign Policy for America Statement on Addressing COVID-19 as a Global Threat

March 12, 2020

Foreign Policy for America Statement on Addressing COVID-19 as a Global Threat

Washington, DC – During a global pandemic, we need our allies more than ever. The keyword here is global – the entire world is attempting to limit the spread of COVID-19 and it only makes sense that we should work together. This is a challenge we cannot and should not face alone. Last night President Trump addressed the nation, but failed to reassure us; it was apparent that instead of working with our partners around the world, the administration is taking steps to isolate us from the global community.

During last night’s remarks, the president announced a travel ban from Europe, without first consulting or even notifying our European allies. Europeans woke this morning shocked to hear about the ban and the European Union immediately condemned the president’s announcement and confirmed they had no advance notice.

The president’s statement required immediate clarification following the speech, with DHS saying the travel ban only applies to foreign nationals, and not U.S. citizens of permanent residents. The UK, where Trump’s buddy Boris Johnson is Prime Minister, was also not included in the ban, even though they have more confirmed cases than many of the countries included.

The president’s actions also kicked off severe economic impact – stock markets across Europe immediately plunged and Wall Street also plummeted upon opening. And while China is offering medical aid to Italy and other countries are working across borders, the U.S. is siloing itself.

“Imagine watching your neighbor’s house catch on fire, and responding by building a fence. That’s not American – it’s small and cowardly, completely out of step with our history as a country,” said FP4A Executive Director Andrew Albertson. “We’re already seeing the consequences – broken coordination with our European allies, confusion for Americans traveling abroad, utter breakdown in trust from Wall Street, and distraction from real solutions to this crisis.”

“COVID-19 is not a ‘foreign virus.’ It is a global threat that can only be resolved by working with, and not against, all the other nations of the world,” said Ambassador Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. “Missing in President Trump’s speech last night was any responsibility to work with other countries to limit the twin crises, health and economic, from COVID-19. He should close ranks to work with China, Japan, South Korea, Europe, and Iran. Instead, he thinks we can dig a moat around America.”

“Setting our political and economic relationship with Europe on fire is the new ‘build that wall’ — a charlatan’s effort to dupe people into thinking Trump is solving a complex problem, while in fact inflicting damage,” said Ambassador Dan Baer, former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.