About three weeks ago, the Washington Post published an article titled “A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.” It is authored by Robert Kagan, one of the ideologues of the neoconservatives who claim that the US is the sole superpower and therefore it should command the world.
A few days later, The Atlantic released an online version of its January-February 2024 issue, with 24 essays under the headline “If Trump Wins”: the overarching idea is that the danger posed by the second Trump term is immediate and urgent.
Washington Post columnist Thomas Edsall polled several leading international affairs experts on the basic question, “How damaging to American foreign policy interests would a second Trump term be?” Responses ranged from very disruptive to negligible.
A number of US political analysts argue that it is highly likely that Trump may withdraw from NATO, while others fear he will pull troops out of South Korea. James Lindsay, Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations, notes that “Trump’s hostility toward alliances, skepticism about the benefits of cooperation writ large, and his belief in the power of unilateral action will lead him to make foreign policy moves that will unintentionally provide strategic windfalls to China, Russia, Iran or North Korea. The scenario in which he withdraws the United States from NATO or says he will not abide by Article 5 is the most obvious example. His intent will be to save money and/or free the United States from foreign entanglements.”
According to Edsall, “During Trump’s term in office, virtually everyone — his opponents, his allies, the media — consistently underestimated his willingness to break rules.”
Notably, the Biden administration recently inserted a clause in the US defense appropriations bill stating that a two-thirds vote in the Senate, i.e. 67 votes, is required for America to withdraw from NATO.
In mid-November, the influential English journal The Economist published an article titled “Donald Trump poses the greatest danger to the world in 2024.” Noting that Trump is dominating the Republican primary and is ahead of Biden in swing states in all polls, The Economist emphasizes that support for Democrats from black and Hispanic voters, on whom the party has traditionally relied, is clearly weakening.
Hence the conclusion: Trump 2 would be more organized than Trump 1, he would be unbound in his pursuit of retribution, economic protectionism and theatrically extravagant deals. No wonder the prospect of a second Trump term fills the world’s parliaments and boardrooms with despair.
Trump argues that for America to spend blood and treasure in Europe is a bad deal. He has therefore threatened to end the Ukraine war in a day and to wreck NATO, perhaps by reneging on America’s commitment to treat an attack on one country as an attack on all. In the Middle East Trump is likely to unquestioningly back Israel, however much that stirs up conflict in the region. In Asia he may be open to doing a deal with China’s president, Xi Jinping, to abandon Taiwan because he cannot see why America would go to war with a nuclear-armed superpower to benefit a tiny island.
By asserting that America has no global responsibility to help deal with climate change, Trump would crush efforts to slow it.
A second Trump term would be a watershed in a way the first was not. According to the magazine, a victory would confirm his most destructive instincts about power. His plans would encounter less resistance. And because America will have voted him in while knowing the worst, its moral authority would decline.
Virtually the entire American and European press, albeit in different tones, writes about the declining influence of the United States. The Foreign Policy magazine concludes that the Biden administration’s policy in Ukraine and the Middle East has failed, echoed by France’s Le Monde, pointing out that former US allies in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia and the UAE – do not support US policy.
The pro-Israel policy of the White House not only met with the widest international condemnation, but led to a noticeable split within the country, with one Parisian newspaper pointing out that the war between Israel and Hamas had torn apart even the most prestigious university, Harvard, with many employees of official institutions in Washington protesting President Biden’s actions.
Polarization in the United States is reaching such proportions that some political scientists are increasingly talking about the danger of civil conflict.
Meanwhile, America has many major unresolved problems: according to government statistics agencies, 48 million Americans are living with a “substance use disorder,” i.e., drug addiction, and 3.5 million Americans are homeless.
Very soon, the Western world will go on Christmas holidays, but all indications are that early next year the internal political war in the United States will seriously escalate and this will primarily manifest itself in the primaries, which will begin on January 15.
Vladimir Mashin, Ph.D. in History, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.