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Enemies See a Weak and Divided U.S.
President Donald Trump makes remarks as he participates in a roundtable with law enforcement officials in the State Dining Room of the White House, June, 8, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Enemies See a Weak and Divided U.S.

Walter Russell Mead

As the White House fumbles with its response to the country’s most disruptive mass movement since the Vietnam War and U.S. society reflects on the agonizing problems of race relations, many overseas observers will interpret these events as a further sign of American decline. They likely expect an introspective and divided U.S. to withdraw from world affairs. This is a mistake.

There are, of course, the old, familiar questions about Donald Trump—but for many world leaders they’re not the ones on most Americans’ minds. Men like Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping don’t particularly care about the president’s views on minorities or the fine points of American democracy. They don’t see the U.S. as a global avatar of democracy on whose success or failure rest the hopes of suffering humanity, nor do they measure Mr. Trump by his success or failure at bringing the U.S. closer to its deepest values and its highest ideals. They and many others want to know what the president wants, how effective he will be at getting it, how long he will last, and what will come after him.

Similarly, they are less interested in whether these protests mark a new, higher stage in America’s long struggle to overcome the racial legacy of an unhappy past than in how the turmoil will affect U.S. actions abroad.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

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