How will the US Presidential election affect the international stage? – Ellie Hewes

It is not challenging to realise that the US Presidential election will have a remarkable impact on international relations and even domestic politics. The fight to become the leader of the most powerful superpower in the world is a decision which will undoubtably bring change to the international arena. One just needs to look at the policies Trump has imposed over his past four years of presidency to see how much of an impact such a leader can have on global affairs.

Firstly, it will be interesting to observe how the relationship between the US and the rising/resurgent powers will evolve, namely Russia and China. Currently, the relationship between China and the US has hit rock bottom and there have been various speculations about the creation of a new Cold War. Issues ranging from the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the autonomy of Taiwan and Hong Kong, the closure of their various consulates, the ban of certain media platforms in each country and the ongoing trade wars, have occupied the news. However, it seems that this angst and tension will continue, even if Biden is elected. This seems to be a similar story in relation to their traditional enemy Russia, who have recently seen a resurgence on the international stage. Trump has tried to maintain amiable relations with Russia, despite the rumoured interference of Russia in various elections, such as his election in 2016. In contrast, Biden issued an aggressive rhetoric, which stated he would not hesitate in taking the necessary actions if he heard such reports of interference in the elections. Therefore, it seems that America’s relations with China and Russia will largely stay the same, with a continuation of tension and angst.

Left to right: Vladimir Putin (Russia’s leader), Donald Trump (current US President) and Xi Jinping (China’s leader)

One of the areas which may see more change if Biden becomes President, will be in America’s relations with Iran. Trump has been shown to take an aggressive rhetoric towards Iran, which was particularly shown in 2018 when he removed the ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’, a deal which had been signed by his predecessor, Obama. As Biden was Obama’s Vice President, I think one can be certain that he may re-engage with the allies who have actively opposed Trump’s policy, such as his blacklisting of Iran’s financial sector.

Another area which may also see change regards America’s relationship with the European Union (EU). Trump’s previous decisions to ban European citizens from America and his constant depiction of the virus as “Chinese” has caused tension with the EU. This now means that the world’s two greatest economies are divided, leaving the West divided too. Many believe that the relations will continue to get worse if Trump is elected for a second term, which may further lead to America’s isolation. Perhaps China and Russia could fill the void the US have left, strengthening their relations with the EU. Many believe that under Biden, the relationship with the EU would improve, however are worried that Biden may disappoint, meaning many of the current transatlantic tensions would remain. Such a relationship is needed in order to find a vaccine for the pandemic which is still claiming yet more lives. The international coordination will be integral in containing the virus and with America’s help and funding, the pandemic’s impacts would be lessened.

Furthermore, Biden also takes a different stance on Trump’s visits to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and his proclamations that the US troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of the year. There seems to be no indication that Biden would call any more summits with North Korea and he has also proclaimed that he believes troops should be withdrawn responsibly, leaving behind a residual force to combat extremism.

It will certainly be interesting to see what the result is. As I am writing this article, Biden only has to gain six more electoral college votes, which looked sustainable with Nevada. Looking at the possible differences between the two potential administrations is intriguing as their policies could alter the stage of international relations fundamentally, particularly with the events occurring regarding COVID-19 and China. What they choose to implement, could change the course of history and our lives substantially.

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