It’s Biden vs. Trump in the rest of the world, too
For the last 70 years, the United States has sought to shape events in much of the world. We reward countries we favor with aid and other largesse. Those we dislike are isolated, sanctioned, and sometimes made to suffer, Boston Globe writes in the article It’s Biden vs. Trump in the rest of the world, too.
That’s why foreign governments and entire populations watch our elections with shifting combinations of hope and trepidation. As Americans head to the polls, who in the wider world is rooting for President Trump? Who hopes for Joe Biden?
Perhaps the only country from which there is reliable polling data on this question is Israel. A recent opinion survey showed more than 60 percent of Israelis favoring Trump, with less than 20 percent for Biden. That makes sense. Trump has made Israel’s security agenda his own, abandoning the Iran nuclear deal and moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Biden has insisted, as is expected of presidential candidates, that he too supports Israel without reservation. It’s not enough. No one could please Israel’s nationalist majority better than Trump.
Saudi Arabia is also solidly in the Trump camp, and with just as much reason. Trump is endlessly generous and forgiving to the Saudis. Biden, on the other hand, has sharply criticized their autocratic rule. Relations between the two countries could turn frosty if he reaches the White House. The Saudis correctly see Trump as better for their interests.
Yemenis who are victims of Saudi Arabia’s US-backed bombing of their country, on the other hand, would hope for a Biden victory because he might push to end that war.
Which countries are most strongly anti-Trump? Germany is at or near the top of the list. Germans value order and predictability and are appalled by Trump’s crude recklessness. Almost the entire German political class, along with much of the population, hopes desperately to be rid of him. The same is true in Spain, France, and Scandinavia.
Biden may have quiet supporters in another, far different country: Cuba. His association with Obama suggests that he might support a loosening of Trump’s sanctions and better relations with Havana. He dares not say it now for fear of losing votes in Florida, but a second Caribbean thaw could come if he is elected.
With his relentless sanctioning of Russia and support for military maneuvers close to Russia’s borders, Trump had reason to assert, “Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than I have.” Biden, however, might be. He is a strong supporter of the American military presence in Europe and believes that the United States must systematically confront Russia. In a nightmare scenario for the Kremlin, he might even try to bring Ukraine or Georgia into the US-dominated NATO alliance.
Figuring out China’s position is more difficult. Trump relentlessly denounces, threatens, and sanctions China. Nonetheless, if I were sitting on Beijing’s central committee, I’d be rooting for him. He is methodically wrecking America’s global image, and thereby sapping American power. Four more years of this self-destructive rampage could lead people around the world to begin seeing China as a preferable partner. What more could the Chinese ask?
Some peoples’ national hopes seem bleak no matter which candidate wins, among them Venezuelans and Palestinians. Then there are countries where the leadership is sharply divided. Iran is the most striking example. Reformists root for Biden in the hope that he will restart diplomacy. Hard-liners favor Trump because they agree with him that compromise between Iran and the United States is unthinkable.
People on every continent admire what Americans have accomplished and take inspiration from our example. They wish us well, because our success suggests that democratic life is a realistic aspiration. Today they lament our decline toward instability. Trump has his quota of admirers abroad, but I suspect that if given the chance, the world would vote him out.