"No More 'America No. 1'"

That KBS, South Korea's public broadcaster, put out this report makes the harshness of the assessment more salient.

"No More 'America No. 1'"

Credit: Public domain.

This was the title of a shockingly blunt, two-part report by journalist Kim Won-jang 김원장 for KBS. In the report, Kim delivered a blistering criticism of the decline of the United States during the Donald Trump administration: “[The United States] cannot even manage its presidential election, the nation’s biggest event. When things get out of control, it summons the police to fire at its citizens, like they might do in Zimbabwe. The president denies the result of the election; social trust is at rock bottom. The bureaucracy cannot even set a valid deadline for the mail-in ballots, waiting helplessly instead for the court’s directives. Behind the proliferation of fake news is the illiteracy rate that is several times higher than Korea’s. One third of the population lacks proper health insurance as they succumb to the new virus. A country with the most advanced financial system in the world cannot manufacture enough test kits, PPEs, or even simple masks. Unable to handle the rush of patients, it had to import ventilators from Russia.”

In the second part of the report, Kim noted that China’s economy recovered quickly following a relatively successful containment of the coronavirus, and raised the possibility that the US dollar may lose its status as the reserve currency because of profligate money-printing as a way to boost the US economy in response to the pandemic. Kim concluded ominously: “China, the factory of the world, is now becoming the market of the world. For Joe Biden, the Great Wall awaits. More missteps, and there will be no more America Number One. Thus disappeared every empire into history.”

The harsh tone of Kim’s report is somewhat excessive, although the substance of the report raises several valid points. But perhaps most important is the fact that this report - written by a veteran journalist with strong language and a hefty word count - appeared on KBS, South Korea’s largest TV station and public broadcaster comparable to England’s BBC or Japan’s NHK. Not too long ago, this type of report would have been considered beyond the pale - a major sign of how low the United States has fallen in the eyes of one of its most critical allies in East Asia.

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