Photo Illustration: Axios Visuals. Getty Images photos: Benjamin Lowy

"I'm disappointed," Madeleine Albright says when asked about the lack of collective action on the pandemic, including at the UN this week. "Am I surprised? No."

What she's saying: "Given the kind of atmosphere that is out there by virtue of America's lack of interest — more than lack of interest, undermining — of an international system, it's hard."

Albright represented the U.S. as ambassador to the UN (1993-1997) and as secretary of state (1997-2001) when American power was near its apex.

  • She says that power is still there to be exerted to spur global action on issues like the pandemic, climate change and nuclear proliferation.
  • "There is nothing better than representing the United States, but you have to decide how you are going to use that power in terms of getting others to cooperate and be a part of a common solution."
  • "It requires a kind of diplomacy that is in many ways built on day-to-day relationships — putting ourselves in another country's shoes," she says.

The other side: President Trump made much the opposite argument in his address to the General Assembly, contending that the world would be better off if countries followed his lead and focused on their own populations.

  • Albright, who has endorsed Joe Biden, contends that there's still time for a course correction — but that if Trump is reelected, the "U.S.-led" global system may be impossible to put back together.
  • "Another four years of this, and it really is going to be increasingly difficult to persuade anybody that we are going to be dependable partners," she says.

Her bottom line: "After a while, I think people will say, 'If you don't want to be a partner, then go do your thing and we'll do ours.'"

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Oct 26, 2020 - Energy & Environment
Column / Harder Line

How Trump’s energy endgame could go

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Expect President Trump to redouble his efforts loosening regulations and questioning climate-change science should he win re-election next month.

Driving the news: A second Trump administration would supercharge efforts by certain states, countries and companies to address global warming. But some wildcards could have a greener tinge.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Oct 26, 2020 - Health

Rockefeller Foundation commits $1 billion for COVID-19 recovery

A health worker performs a COVID-19 test in New Delhi. Photo: Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The Rockefeller Foundation announced on Monday that it will allocate $1 billion over the next three years to address the pandemic and its aftermath.

Why it matters: The mishandled pandemic and the effects of climate change threaten to reverse global progress and push more than 100 million people into poverty around the world. Governments and big NGOs need to ensure that the COVID-19 recovery reaches everyone who needs it.

Pre-bunking rises ahead of the 2020 election

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Tech platforms are no longer satisfied with debunking falsehoods — now they're starting to invest in efforts that preemptively show users accurate information to help them counter falsehoods later on.

Why it matters: Experts argue that pre-bunking can be a more effective strategy for combative misinformation than fact-checking. It's also a less polarizing way to address misinformation than trying to apply judgements to posts after they've been shared.