Pandemic: The First Great Crisis of the Post-American Era

Medical staff treat patients suffering from the COVID-19 coronavirus in an intensive care unit at the Oglio Po Hospital in Cremona, Italy, March 19, 2020. (Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)
The absence of American leadership in the current crisis is not an aberration, and it is not temporary.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE F aced with the great challenge of his time — the thermonuclear menace of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics — Jack Kennedy famously laid out the American position: “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge — and more.”

That was heady stuff — but exhausting, too, and expensive. Americans tire of heroism pretty quickly. We are the weary kind,  and the weariness is thoroughly bipartisan: Kennedy’s determination to fight the Cold War was met with opposition


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