U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to go it alone in responding to the coronavirus pandemic is but the latest manifestation of the United States’ waning global leadership. Even before the virus struck, there was broad bipartisan agreement that Washington should reduce its commitments abroad and focus on problems at home. The economic and social toll of the pandemic will only reinforce that position. Many Americans—and not just the president’s supporters—believe that the United States’ allies have taken advantage of the country. They think that the costs associated with international leadership have been too high. They have lost patience with endless wars and foreign interventions.
The United States remains the most powerful country in the world, in both economic and military terms. Yet nearly three decades since its victory in the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, it faces challenges on multiple fronts. China and Russia are strengthening their militaries and seeking to extend their influence globally. North Korea poses an increasingly sophisticated nuclear threat in East Asia, and Iran remains a determined adversary in the Middle East. After 19 years of war, thousands of U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan and Iraq, and
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