Changing Equations Globally
Joe Biden’s win will have a definite impact on America’s relationship with other countries across the globe.
By Asad Mirza
Twenty years after the nail biting Bush-Al Gore electoral fight in 2000, the recent Trump-Biden presidential contest was perhaps the most watched and nerves wracking electoral fight till the victor was declared.
It was not only the Americans who had a lot at stake in this year’s presidential election. During the last four years many American values were eroded or were given a completely new shape, with lies and subterfuge taking the centre stage. Countries around the world were keenly watching the race and trying to determine what the outcome may mean for them.
For some, Trump ushered in a new type of politics, which they fully supported, including many in India, besides a large number of Indian-origin voters back in the US. For others, a Joe Biden victory would be warmly welcomed. Let’s have a quick look at what the Biden victory may mean for different countries across the globe
Apart from the personal Trump-Modi equation, realistically the U.S.-India relationship is centred around trade and defence. For its part, India is concerned with the U.S. stance toward Pakistan and China, with whom it has border disputes. In recent skirmishes on the India-China border, both the White House and Joe Biden’s campaign indicated support for India. For many Indians, Biden may be more popular because of his promises to allow more work visas, compared to Trump who has taken a harder line on non-Americans working in the U.S.
During Trump’s four-year tenure, relations between the US and Pakistan were greatly affected, Trump repeatedly lambasted Pakistan through public forums. After Biden’s victory, relations with USA’s closest ally in Asia are expected to improve. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in his congratulatory message expressed hope to work with the United States on a range of issues, including illegal tax evasion. In his tweet, Imran said that we would continue to work with the United States for peace in other regions, especially in Afghanistan.
While China-U.S. relations hit a low under President Donald Trump, it is not certain that Beijing would automatically support his Democratic rival, Joe Biden. Under Trump, the world’s two largest economies have plunged into a costly trade war. The U.S. condemned Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and criticised the treatment of minority Uyghurs and Hong Kong demonstrators.
Biden, meanwhile, has vowed to stand up to Beijing, called President Xi Jinping a “thug” and has also criticised the country’s treatment of the Uyghurs. Chinese political commentators however describe Trump’s disruptive style as a golden opportunity for China’s rise and thus it may welcome four more years of Trump.
Even though President Donald Trump’s policies have not always aligned with Moscow’s interests, most Russians see him as friendly to Russia. In August, Trump told aides he’d like to hold an in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the election.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, is viewed as having more hawkish attitudes toward Moscow. With Biden, there is concern he would take a greater interest in Russia’s activities on the international stage. He is known as being sympathetic to Ukraine, and Putin himself most likely isn’t a fan, some experts say.
For the British government, the U.S. presidential election presents a dilemma.
Unlike European leaders who have lambasted Trump, the U.K.’s leaders have been keen to please him. Desperate to strike a post-Brexit U.S. trade deal, they have in Trump a Brexit supporter who calls Prime Minister Boris Johnson “Britain’s Trump.”
However, Biden may present other challenges. He’s pro-EU, anti-Brexit and once called Boris Johnson, a Trump’s “physical and emotional clone.” Biden has vowed to back his Irish ancestral homeland if Brexit threatens its peace and economy. Some fear a Europe-allied, China-focused Biden might see Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States — honed through decades of war, diplomacy and intelligence sharing — as increasingly irrelevant. The British public was more decisive, with 81 percent of those polled by Pew in September saying that they have no confidence in Trump.
There cannot be many countries watching the election more closely than Iran.
In 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that eased sanctions on the country in return for limits on its nuclear program. Trump then imposed a wave of crippling economic sanctions on the country of 83 million. In contrast, if challenger Joe Biden is elected, “he would seek to build on the nuclear deal to make it longer and stronger if Iran returns to strict compliance,” according to Antony Blinken, a Biden foreign policy adviser. This could also mean the removal of U.S. sanctions and an end to Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign.
If the U.S. election were held in Israel, President Donald Trump would most likely win in a landslide. In Israel, Trump will be remembered as the U.S. president who recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, breaking with decades of American precedent. His administration will also be remembered for pulling out of a nuclear deal with Israel’s arch enemy, Iran; recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights; brokering agreements to normalise ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and presenting a plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Biden has said his commitment to Israel is “unshakable.” However, some are concerned about the pressure he may come under from members of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, some of whom are outspoken critics of Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. Israelis also believe that Biden, if elected, would revive the nuclear deal with Tehran.
Few countries have more at stake in November’s election than Saudi Arabia, the U.S.’s closest Arab ally, a major customer of American weapons and a bulwark against Iranian ambitions in the Middle East. Since his tour of Saudi Arabia in 2017 on the first foreign trip of his presidency, Trump has proven to be a boon for Riyadh: He ditched a nuclear deal with the kingdom’s main rival, Iran; sent troops to the country after accusing Iran of attacking its oil facilities; and dismissed U.S. intelligence accusing Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Prince Mohammed bin Salman of ordering the killing of a prominent critic, journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump’s White House has also helped the oil-rich nation proceed with a disastrous war in Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries where millions of children face hunger and malnutrition.
In contrast, Joe Biden has said he will take a different approach. A top campaign adviser has also said that, as president, Biden would likely revive a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear development. However, Salman al-Ansari of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee opines that Saudi leadership is also practical, realistic and ready to adjust to any global changes, including America’s political landscape, and thus may changes its stand with the new president.
Trump and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have enjoyed a warm personal relationship since they met first at the White House in November 2019. On the other hand Joe Biden views Ankara with suspicion. Earlier this year in an interview with The New York Times Biden had said he was “very concerned” about Erdogan’s approach to the Kurds in Turkey, military cooperation with Russia, and access to US airfields in the country, as a NATO ally. Despite Trump’s warmer personal relationship with Erdogan, diplomatic relations have been strained over Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defence systems and policy in the Syrian civil war, and they may not change with the new president.
President Donald Trump is more unpopular in Germany than almost anywhere else, so it’s no surprise that many Germans would prefer Joe Biden to win in November. Trump has repeatedly insulted Chancellor Angela Merkel. So a Biden win would most likely be an improvement in US-Germany ties. That’s not to say Biden would provide an instant elixir for the Germans.
When it comes to the U.S. election, the only winner most Afghans care about is whoever can bring peace to the country nearly 20 years after the U.S. invasion. On paper it may appear as if President Donald Trump has accomplished more in this regard than his predecessors. In February, his administration signed a landmark deal with the Taliban, which calls for peace talks between the militants and an Afghan delegation that includes Kabul government officials. And in September, both sides agreed to come to the table in a diplomatic breakthrough that raised the prospects for peace. Still, most Afghans see Democrat Joe Biden as a safer choice.
Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi.
He was also associated with BBC Urdu Service and Khaleej Times of Dubai.
He writes on Muslims, educational, international affairs, interfaith and current affairs.