“It feels like an era setting moment,” said David O’Sullivan, former EU ambassador to the US. “America is facing a choice between two very different visions of self-consciousness and its place in the world.”
Over the past four years, President Trump has changed the principles that have shaped US foreign policy for decades, preferring a personality-driven, transactional approach to world affairs. at times angering some of the closest US allies.
Under the Trump administration, the image of the United States in the world has deteriorated. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that in the UK, Canada, and Japan, the percentage of people expressing favorable views toward the United States has dropped to its lowest level since the survey began. almost two decades ago.
Trump knows the world is watching as he tries to win his second term. “China wants me out, Iran wants me out, Germany wants me out, they all want me out,”; he said at a rally on Saturday. “But here we are, right?”
If Joe Biden wins, the election will mark a major turning point for US policy. The Biden administration will adopt a different approach to countries including China, Iran, Russia, Israel, Canada and Mexico. It will also renew US participation in global efforts to address challenges such as climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden has promised to restore a more traditional strategy in foreign policy. He said that one of his first acts as president was “to call the heads of state and say, ‘America is back, you can count on us.’ “
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wrote in a recent essay: “We are rooted in Donald Trump’s victory, because we know well the foreign policy of American Democratic governments, built on moral empire ”. “We’ve been forced to sample before, we don’t like it, we don’t want seconds.”
Such outright endorsements by the second Trump administration are rare. Most world leaders have limited commentary on the vote to avoid being impressed by the interference in the electoral process.
Cautious expectation has prevailed across Asia Pacific, a region that has been heavily shaped in the past two years by the Trump administration’s confrontation against China and its far-reaching influences. .
Many influential Chinese analysts and consulting organizations argue that victory in Biden is more likely but rather bleak in terms of long-term prospects. Economic competition from the US may become even more fierce under the leadership of Democrats, but if Trump loses, he will leave his mark by basically positioning Washington and Beijing as rivals. together.
China’s two most authoritative state media, the Xinhua News Agency and the People’s Daily, have explicitly limited favor with a candidate even when they run “serial commentaries”. the past week shows that the United States is retreating from a global leadership position.
Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday described the 2020 election as “non-traditional, irregular, troublesome, and exhausting” and a historic moment marked by division and threats of violence. politic. But it avoids criticizing the American democratic system itself, a more conservative approach than Chinese officials say about the effectiveness of their one-party system in containing Covid-19.
In Hong Kong, which has been stirred by protests and a controversial new national security law promoted by Beijing, chief executive Carrie Lam told reporters on Tuesday she had primary hope. The new US rights will “take a comprehensive look at relations with Hong Kong, taking into account the interests of many Hong Kong-based US companies and their employees. “Political upheaval in Hong Kong last year and security laws prompted the United States under Trump to dramatically change its treatment of the territory, through legislation in favor of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and impose sanctions on some Hong Kong and Beijing officials.
Ms. Lam added that her government hopes the new US administration “will not arbitrarily impose it [impacts in] Hong Kong due to political persecution ”.
American policies toward the Middle East are also in balance.
According to recent polls, how the next administration is dealing with Iran is one of the top considerations for the Arab World. Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE’s influential ambassador to Washington, said in a recent interview that different approaches to Iran are the main distinguishing feature between the two candidates. “The biggest mistake right now is how to deal with Iran. Not that Iran is a challenge or not. There is a consensus on that. There is a disagreement over how to deal with it, ”he told Abu Dhabi-based The National, without specifying which candidate preference.
While the Iranian government said the outcome of the election was not important to it, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told CBS News in an interview that “the Biden camp statements are more promising but we will have to wait and see, what makes sense of their behavior. “He also denied the FBI’s accusations that Iran is seeking to interfere in the election, asserting that” the most important effective front to help the US electoral system is President Trump himself “.
In Israel, observers say the victory in Biden – after four years of close cooperation between Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – could accelerate the end of the current compromise government in Jerusalem and lead to the election. within the next few months.
“Netanyahu made his relationship with President Trump a key highlight for Israeli voters,” said Jason Pearlman, a media strategist. “If Biden wins, it will be seen as a real dent in Netanyahu’s influence, this could also be the straw that breaks this alliance’s back.”
Some experts have urged world leaders to avoid saying anything until the results of the election are final, with the possibility that the outcome will not be known on Tuesday night. Timothy Garten Ash, an historian and commentator, writes: “Clarity, measured from other democracies, may contribute to a more civilized American process, and essentially, soften. The international environment surrounding this thrilling competition.
Not only leaders and diplomats around the world are watching the elections with intense interest, but regular citizens as well. Some have ties with the United States, while others argue that the next US president will have a direct effect on their lives.
In a way, “it’s the world’s election,” said Shivshankar Menon, India’s former national security advisor. Menon said his 94-year-old mother in New Delhi – who had never shown interest in the US presidential election before – told him on Monday that she was worried about the results of the vote.
Her great-grandchildren live in the United States, and she worries about what country they will grow up in, Menon said. “The contrast between the two candidates is too great,” he said. “I don’t think it has ever been that serious.”
In Iran, a musical costume called Dasandaz Band posted a hilarious song on Twitter urging ordinary Americans to remember that their vote has a global impact. “Know that the person you vote will change our lives,” they sing. “We really don’t know why it affects us more than you do.”
Iran is one of a number of countries where the election can have profound consequences. Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration and implemented a harsh sanctions regime aimed at exerting “maximum pressure” on the Iranian government.
Biden said Trump’s policy toward Iran represented a “dangerous failure” that left the United States isolated from its allies while removing ties to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “There is a smart way to be tough on Iran, and that’s the Trump way,” wrote Biden, who said he would rejoin the nuclear deal if Iran returned to comply with it.
Much of Asia is keen on monitoring the results of the election to see if the United States will manage growing friction with China, the rising regional power. Trump started a trade war with China and blamed the country for the coronavirus pandemic, raising fears that the United States and China are heading towards a sort of cold war.
Mr O’Sullivan, a former EU ambassador, said Trump has fulfilled his promise in reshaping the US role in the world. The way the United States implemented foreign policy “changed completely” under this administration. “America is more respected internationally because of that? I would say no. “
What was decided in the election was “obviously going to have a big impact, not only for the US but also globally in the near future,” said O’Sullivan. “We’re all waiting with our breath to see what happens.”