By Dr. Todd J. Barry
In “Coronavirus and a new U.S.- European Marshall Plan,” Jerry M. Rosenberg make a compelling case that “actions from the United States are assuredly needed” to ensure that Covid-19 is mollified, and that steps are taken to prevent another virus from wreaking havoc in the future. As Rosenberg writes, would it not be great if America were to lead this effort globally? At the G7 Summit in the United Kingdom just recently, U.S. President Joe Biden, albeit facing numerous challenges on both domestic and foreign policy fronts, missed an excellent opportunity to convince the world’s leading nations that America, followed by its allies, can, and together, should take the front in expulsing the Coronavirus from threatening the world now, and “forever,” into the future.
The analogy that comes quickly to mind is flying on a commercial plane, where, during a crisis, one is instructed to put on the safety mask and vest first, and, after this is done, to then help others. In America, where the mood is dubiously optimistic, but nearing heard immunity, at least against the main strain of the virus, the attention should turn towards helping the rest of the world. The United States could, as soon as possible, pledge $500 billion dollars, in a Marshall Plan type effort as Rosenberg suggests, similar to that which followed World War II, towards a several year fight to make not just Europe, but the world, safe from the Coronavirus. Already, many vials of the vaccines are going unused, but Congress would need to call on Americans to sacrifice to find a way to self-fund such an effort, so as to not rely on foreign debt which, given limited resources, could take on political pressures.
In early March 2020, prior to the widespread outbreak of the Coronavirus in the U.S., I spoke to the economics class that I teach saying that the U.S. would be wise to spend several billion dollars to prevent the spread of the virus to our shores, and to invest in a vaccine. They looked at me with disbelief. I also e-mailed several Presidential candidates, one who wrote back with a plan to combat the Coronavirus by eliminating student debt, which did not resonate.
The plan proposed by Mr. Rosenberg is forward thinking and would benefit human beings everywhere, but in terms of foreign policy, it would win the hearts of and minds of peoples of other nations, like the school children who delighted in receiving candy bars from American GI’s amidst the ashes of Europe, and turned their thoughts away from socialism and instead to how much they admired the United States. Countless, similar examples exist in history, such as of U.S. aid during financial crises.
One day, one can hope, citizens, of all ages, in countries that are our allies, and countries that are our competitors, would in trust come up to American visitors and tell them their love for Americans for having helped to eradicate the Coronavirus during those dark days. In short, generosity engenders strength, and appreciation.
Viruses can start anywhere, but they require greater state transparency. Whether one believes that the Coronavirus started in a Chinese lab, a food market, or was simply a flu that mutated viciously between different biological features of humans, history books would, with hope, sanguinely note that it was America who saved the world from pandemic, like Spain in 1918, everywhere from Europe, to Southeast Asia, to Africa, to all places where American help was welcomed, ushering in a “Soaring ‘20’s” age of globalism that restarted the world economy and allowed everyone to again safely travel across a planet that, with America’s help, truly belongs to all of us together.
Dr. Todd J. Barry is an adjunct Professor at Hudson County Community College, Connecticut, United States