1. Resistance to Biden is likely
The result of the election made it clear America has not rejected ‘Trumpism’ and remains deeply polarized. Donald Trump remains an important figure within the Republican Party, and perhaps even its leader.
Some senior figures in the party support his efforts to convey the impression the election was ‘stolen’ from them, and analysts such as Max Boot and Timothy Snyder are even comparing this to the Dolchstosslegende (myth of a stab in the back) in Germany after World War I.
Assuming Joe Biden does take over as president on 20 January, the question is what form any ‘resistance’ to his administration takes.… Seguir leyendo »
The authors of this collection consider the most pressing foreign policy challenges for the next US president, and examine how the outcome of the 2020 election will affect these.
The president will determine how the US’s diplomatic, economic and military resources are invested, and what value the administration will attach to existing alliances and multilateral institutions.
Whoever sits in the White House will shape the trajectory of the US–China relationship and the global economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as international cooperation on climate action, international trade and technology policy, and health.
- The last four years have confirmed that the choices the US makes are highly consequential for international politics.
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Experts across Chatham House shared their views on Trump and Biden’s performance and their key takeaways from the last debate. More than 47 million Americans have already cast their vote and few voters are undecided, but the debates still provide a good lens into these two very different candidates.
Throughout the presidential race, there have been concerns regarding foreign interference in the election. How did candidates respond to this threat?
Leslie Vinjamuri: The candidates deflected the question, but it could not have been more timely. Only two days ago, John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, and Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, announced that Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration data and used this to send threatening emails to voters.… Seguir leyendo »
What role do the presidential debates serve in encouraging voter turnout?
Leslie Vinjamuri: Going into the debates, 74% of Americans were set to tune in and watch according to a new Monmouth Poll. This is striking since more than 90% have already decided who their candidate will be, and many have already cast their ballots.
During President Donald Trump’s time in office, Americans have been far more politically engaged than in previous periods. A record 49.3% of the voting eligible population turned out to vote in the 2018 midterm elections, according to the United States Election Project. This was the highest voter turnout since 1914, and it also reversed a downward trend.… Seguir leyendo »
Despite being such a historic selection, in certain aspects, Kamala Harris does not actually signal change. She is a moderate in the Democratic Party, an insider more than an outsider, and a highly experienced leader with national, state level and city level credentials. She worked as a district attorney in San Francisco for several years before being elected attorney general for the state of California, and then to the US Senate in 2016. Harris also stood as a candidate against Biden in the contest to become the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.
Like Joe Biden, she is a highly experienced leader with strong credentials.… Seguir leyendo »
Harder Line Could Accelerate Animosity with China
Coronavirus has dramatically reshaped the political and economic context for the US foreign policy debate. With more than 20 million Americans unemployed – and an unemployment rate above 13% – more than 125,000 deaths and the rate of infections continuing to climb across the south and south-west, and President Donald Trump polling more than 8% behind Joe Biden, it is hardly surprising that China and its role both in the pandemic and in the US economy continues to dominate foreign policy discussions.
In both the United States and Europe, the severity of the health and economic crisis driven by the pandemic has raised the stakes for policy on China and – especially in the UK, Germany, France and the wider EU – is tipping the balance towards those who advocate for a harder line on China.… Seguir leyendo »
The demand for national leadership to unite a clearly passionate and divided United States could not be higher, but President Donald Trump is instead adopting tactics that are inflaming division and risk greater instability and violence.
The president’s demand that governors ‘dominate’ protesters was shored up by the use of tear gas by police to disperse lawful protesters outside the White House, and his decision to deploy US military troops across the United States all signal a dangerous embrace of law and order tactics that mimic the authoritarian leaders Trump has long admired.
But in a nation defined by a well-honed expectation of the right to civil disobedience and political protest, and an unparalleled embrace of individual freedoms, the president’s tactics could backfire, triggering an escalation of violence and furthering America’s domestic political and economic crisis.… Seguir leyendo »
Although there are plenty of signs that strongmen leaders have used the crisis to try to tighten their grip on power, the coronavirus has revealed the underlying vulnerabilities of autocracies rather than their strength. In contrast, democracies are showing their capacity for innovation and adaptation, as one would expect, and signs of renewal, as one would hope.
At first look, the situation is not positive for democracies. The countries worst-hit by COVID-19 as measured in deaths per capita are mostly democracies, including Britain, Belgium, Italy, Spain and the United States. In most cases, erroneous or slow decision-making proved fatal when combined with stressed health systems and pockets of high social inequality.… Seguir leyendo »
As the US surgeon general warns Americans to brace for ‘our Pearl Harbor moment’, the US faces a week in which it may see the worst of the global pandemic. The absence of US leadership at the global level has enabled the Security Council’s inaction. And at the G7, President Trump actively obstructed efforts to agree a joint statement.
US efforts to increase its support of international aid to the tune of $274million are minimal, not least in light of a 50% reduction in its support for the World Health Organization (WHO) and radically diminished support for other global health programmes as well.… Seguir leyendo »
As coronavirus spreads across the globe, states grapple to find the ideal strategy for coping with the global pandemic. And, in China, Singapore, South Korea, the US, the UK, and Europe, divergent policies are a product of state capacity and legal authority, but they also reveal competing views about the optimal role of centralised state authority, federalism, and the private sector.
Although it is too soon to know the longer-term effects, the apparent capacity of centralised state authority in China, South Korea and Singapore to respond effectively and rapidly is making headlines. In the United States, the opposite has been true.… Seguir leyendo »
In the face of multiple competing pressures, most especially intense pressure by the US president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the UK government has carved out an independent choice on the role that Huawei will play in its 5G mobile networks. Announced just days before the UK exited the European Union, a move designed to allow the UK to reclaim its sovereignty, this was a model example of a sovereign decision, but one that carries risk and will create ongoing uncertainty.
The government’s assessment is that this will bolster Britain’s economic competitiveness through a rapid rollout of its 5G mobile network while staving off pressure from the United States and economic retaliation from China.… Seguir leyendo »
On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution affirming its authority under the War Powers Resolution Act, and reminding the president, the American people and the world that when it comes to the use of military force, Congress must be taken into account.
President Donald Trump replied by retweeting John Bolton, his former national security advisor, who tweeted that the War Powers Act was ‘unconstitutional’, effectively dismissing Congressional efforts to rein in the president.
This round of legal Twitter diplomacy came days after the president tweeted that ‘legal notice (to Congress) is not required, but it is given nevertheless’ and that ‘should Iran strike any US person or target, the United States will quickly and fully strike back, and perhaps in a disproportionate manner.’… Seguir leyendo »
A tactical approach to Turkey has failed
The US approach to Turkey under President Donald Trump has been tactical, consisting of a series of mixed signals.
In August 2018, the US imposed sanctions on several Turkish officials to pressure for the release of detained American pastor Andrew Brunson. With the Turkish lira plummeting, Brunson was released in October of that year.
In a separate incident, after squeezing Turkey economically, the US offered to work with Turkey in the investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But later, the White House considered reopening the case of the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, long sought by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a bid to convince Turkey to reduce pressure on Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi killing.… Seguir leyendo »
In the wake of a whistleblower’s report that alleged Donald Trump linked military aid to Ukraine to the latter’s willingness to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential elections, and his son, Hunter, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has initiated a formal impeachment inquiry. Chatham House experts explore the impact of this latest turn of events.
Questions abound for Congress and for foreign allies
For more than a year, Democrats worked to investigate President Donald Trump’s potential involvement in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Now, in the span of a week, they appear to have decided that the subject of a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi and alleged subsequent efforts by the Trump administration to prevent the release of a related whistleblower report constitute clear, impeachable offences.… Seguir leyendo »
A shared agenda: strengthening democracy at home
As Britain is set to leave the EU, many have argued that the US–UK relationship is bound to suffer a lasting setback, since a UK outside the EU cannot possibly be as important or helpful to the United States as one that is in.
To make matters worse, Trump’s policies on Iran, trade and climate are making it hard for the UK to align with its American ally. And Trump’s popularity among the UK electorate is reported to be as low as 21%, so the UK’s candidates for prime minister are likely to be cautious when considering how to engage this American president.… Seguir leyendo »
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which concludes his investigation into US President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia and Moscow’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 US presidential elections, has not yet been released. But there have already been strong reactions to Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of its major findings, published on Sunday afternoon, reactions fuelled by the partisan divisions that are driving politics in the United States today.
The fact that the attorney general was appointed by Trump has also intensified suspicions that his summary of the Mueller report is not wholly independent. This makes it even more important to release the fuller report into the public domain.… Seguir leyendo »
Given the partisan state of US politics, how can discussion on climate change be depoliticized? Is there a path forward for bipartisan action on the climate without major changes in US politics?
Donald Trump has taken an active interest in combating the basic facts of climate science. But it hasn’t worked. Indeed Trump’s rhetorical attacks on climate science appear to have backfired. The percentage of Americans that believe in climate science has increased 3 per cent since last March, bringing the total to roughly 73 per cent, and 7 in 10 Americans take this issue personally.
Trump’s attacks on internationalism also seem to be failing at least when it comes to the environment.… Seguir leyendo »
Americans are divided – but no longer complacent
The 2018 US midterm elections were a referendum on President Trump and in the aftermath, only one truth is crystal clear. America is divided. Americans have voted against Trump, and Americans have voted for Trump.
This division is likely to infect US politics for the next two years. Some of this division will now be given actual political expression in Congress. But it will also be played out across America.
Two areas stand out. One is trade. Americans may well experience a deepening trade war and suffer its costs very differently.… Seguir leyendo »
The Senate confirmation of US Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh by a vote of 50 to 48 was the final episode in a drama that has divided America. It has also gripped foreign audiences. The midterm elections promise to do the same.
Historically, Supreme Court nominees and midterm elections have garnered little attention abroad. Today, the rest of the world looks to America’s domestic politics as a barometer of where America is heading.
Beyond the Twitter feed
In year one of the Trump presidency, the news media and many of the world’s diplomats spent countless hours trying to decipher the significance of the president’s tweets.… Seguir leyendo »
Contrary to the worst fears, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the two controllers of 92% of the world’s nuclear weapons, did not fall out badly and Trump did not concede a Soviet-era sphere of influence to Russia. But their unprecedented meeting in Helsinki has still given a win to the Kremlin and sent shockwaves through the United States, with effects on American foreign and domestic policy that will play out over the coming weeks and months.
Just by getting the summit held, the Kremlin scored a post-World Cup goal – the event, at least for a while, puts Russia on a par with the United States in terms of political weight, a key Russian objective.… Seguir leyendo »