(CSIS) What do Texas and Sverdlovsk have in common? Remarkably, quite a bit. They’re both large, diverse, economically vital areas of their countries just emerging from a completely avoidable second wave of coronavirus infection that has ripped through society, imposed special cruelties upon racial minorities and the poor, bent health systems to the breaking point, and exposed failures of leadership. And they are case studies of the ways the U.S. and Russian responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have been eerily, and disastrously, similar.
Russian president Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump share a playbook that has led each country into deep turmoil. But Trump has also travelled well beyond the commonalities—in terms of his abdication of leadership, generating chaos and incoherence; the assault upon science and U.S. public health institutions; and the politicization of the pandemic response. As a consequence, the scale, scope, and velocity of the U.S. outbreak far outstrips Russia’s (and the rest of the world’s), as does the staggering loss of life. U.S. prestige and influence have suffered. The United States has entered a world of trouble far beyond anything Russia faces today. […]
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