Hello, you have reached the United States of America. We’re sorry no one is here to take your call right now. We have taken leave of our senses and are unsure when they’ll return. Please try again in three-and-a-half years.”
If America had a voice-mail message to the world, this would be it. We are running an experiment in exploring the consequences of suddenly having the world’s most important power go absent without leave on the world stage.
Some of the signs of U.S. withdrawal have made international headlines. But some of the ways we are abandoning our leadership role are less visible. For example, few things are more directly associated with American leadership than our standing as a source of innovation, research, and scientific and technological expertise. Yet, President Trump — who has struggled to successfully conceive or maintain many policy initiatives — has shown remarkable steadfastness in his campaign against science.