The Global Impact of US Elections By Talat Masood

The world anxiously awaits the outcome of the US presidential elections. Although America does not enjoy the level of supremacy as it did until a few years ago, it is still very clearly the dominating centre of strategic, economic and technological power and commands considerable influence in majority of the countries of the world. The policies that it pursues and the strategic direction that it takes especially in respect to the regional countries has a strong bearing on others. And Pakistan is no stranger to this experience.

Whereas historically US presidents have been generally close to India, but President Trump in collaboration with Israel has raised the level of this relationship to new heights. In essence he considers India a convenient partner against China at the regional level and is assisting it in strengthening its military and economic capacity. But this policy has adverse consequences for Pakistan that are being overlooked by the Trump administration.

It is expected that the Democrat candidate, Joe Biden, whose chances of winning the presidential race are more favourable would be relatively more mature and balanced in dealing with foreign countries and faithfully adhere to international and regional commitments. More importantly, while keeping pressure on China to take measures to adhere to correct trade practices, the Biden administration is expected to be less raucous. And would promote globalisation.

He would strengthen US relations with NATO countries and Japan and South Korea and intensify pressure on North Korea. President Trump’s contention that NATO and its Western and other global allies have exploited US largesse and it is time to end this benevolence, not realising that America benefited as much even more by this co-operation.

The US leadership’s main challenge remains to heal the internal divisions that have reached a level not witnessed in the recent past. And pursue foreign policy that is defined by the demands of globalisation. Its military at land, sea, or air, however, still remains the most dominant and in space has made huge strides to stay in the front. Its soft power is unparalleled.

Despite that, America’s lofty position is clearly under challenge. Whereas, its defence budget remains the highest in the world and China may not be close to that level of spending but is developing an effective deterrence and modernising it forces at a fast pace. Russian military power, defence technology and weapon systems also are cutting edge although its economy remains weak.

A major concern among European allies is that Washington is only interested in promoting its own interest and is least concerned about them. This has been repeatedly demonstrated during Trump’s current term. Germany and France along with the other European Union countries now play a more prominent role at the UN and other international institutions aimed to constrain America’s hard power.

The more significant outcome is that US influence worldwide has decreased along with its power. This was only natural as there was a lack of convergence in national interests between Washington and other major allies.

Moreover, Trump’s presidency operated in a moral vacuum that has promoted a value-bereft global society. His contempt for culture and accepted norms of social behaviour has been equally damaging. It is very likely that in the event Joe Biden became president, he would make a serious effort at resorting to American influence globally in a constructive way and resetting moral values. And ensuring that American foreign and economic policies serve the best interest of the world at large.

In foreign policy, a major expectation from Joe Biden would be that he works toward reducing the tension with China and Russia and develop a sustainable working relationship with them. President Trump has literary promoted a cold war with China that has had serious consequences for the rest of the world and especially for countries like Pakistan. Whereas, Pakistan would like to have a balanced relationship with the US despite its strong and mutually beneficial strategic partnership with China in CPEC and other defence and economic projects.

On Kashmir, Biden and the vice-president nominee are expected to be more vocal on human rights issues and to take a constructive and balanced position on Palestine. Biden has expressed his opposition to Israel’s annexation of the West Bank land. But will he be able to prevent Israel from annexing West Bank is questionable.

On the economic front, President Trump has shown scant regard for IMF and the World Bank. Most worrisome has been his attitude toward the World Health Organization, at a time when the world caught in the Covid-19 pandemic desperately needs its services for guidance and support.

Even globalisation suffered during Trump’s presidency. According to respected economists his inward-looking economic policies may have benefited the US in the short-term but would have long-term adverse consequences for America and the world.

President Trump has been truly contemptuous of international treaties and obligations. During his presidency, the US pulled out of the Paris Agreement, unilaterally left the Human Rights Council, and the United Nations Education and Scientific and Cultural Organization, and also cancelled the nuclear deal with Iran. President Trump has shown little regard for NATO and has decided to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty. Although both US and Russia have decided to extend it by one year, meanwhile they would try to negotiate a new treaty.

There was absence of any discussion on terrorism in presidential debates and for this the credit would go to President Trump as mentioned in one of the recent Op-eds in The New York Times. This is in sharp contrast to the situation that existed four years back.

Undoubtedly, President Trump showed no respect for human values that Americans and the world in general would like to adhere to. His re-election would reinforce this trend and erode the moral foundations of not only broad segments of society in the US but in other parts of the world as well. President Trump seemed more comfortable with despots and authoritarian rulers than with democrats. This only emboldened them to tighten their grip on the masses.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2020.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/2270923/1

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