Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd slammed President Donald Trump in an opinion piece in Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, arguing that the world has “watched in horror” at his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rudd says that Trump’s handling of the crisis has been “chaotic” and has damaged the reputation of the U.S. around the world. He says that the U.S. appears to not be able to handle its own crises and is unlikely able to assist with other issues around the world.
His blistering commentary went on, attacking Trump for his musings about whether or not COVID-19 could be destroyed by injecting disinfectants into the human body or using strong light to fight the virus inside people.
While Trump walked back his comments about injecting products like bleach and isopropyl alcohol during his disastrous White House press conference, and later said that he meant the comments to be sarcastic, Rudd argues that Trump damaged the reputation of the U.S. globally.
“The world has watched in horror as an American president acts not as the leader of the free world but as a quack apothecary recommending unproven ‘treatments.’ It has seen what ‘America First’ means in practice: don’t look to the United States for help in a genuine global crisis, because it can’t even look after itself,” he wrote.
Rudd, who led Australia from 2007 to 2010, and returned for a second term in 2013, went on to say that the U.S. was once respected for its part in helping the world’s conflicts, as with the Berlin airlift during World War II.
“Now there is the image of the USS Theodore Roosevelt crippled by the virus, reports of the administration trying to take exclusive control of a vaccine being developed in Germany, and federal intervention to stop the commercial sale of personal protective equipment to Canada. The world has been turned on its head,” he wrote.
The former PM went on to say that the relationship between the U.S. and China has been damaged in such a way that could lead to a sort of “cold war” between the two countries. He went on to predict that if things continue as they are, the U.S. would emerge more divided than unified and that the country could be facing a financial crisis to come.
Trump has faced criticism at home, as well as abroad, for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Amidst his push to see states re-open their economies, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Trump is undermining science and increasing the risk that people could die from the virus if he doesn’t help to ramp up nationwide virus testing.