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The Biden Effect

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has become openly hostile toward NATO and alliances in general, and is increasingly focusing on China and the rest of Asia. How might a victory for Trump’s presumptive Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, in November’s election affect Europe and the rules-based international system?

In this Big Picture, former Spanish foreign minister Ana Palacio fears for NATO’s future and expects the US drift away from the Alliance to continue regardless of the outcome in November. For that reason, says former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, renewing the transatlantic relationship will be possible only if Europe is united on key issues – not least how to deal with China.

But Alexander Soros of the Open Society Foundations thinks Biden would change US policy toward Europe significantly for the better, and – unlike Trump – would be trusted to maintain America’s commitments to partners and allies around the world.

On that score, Harvard University’s Joseph S. Nye, Jr., says a Biden administration should seek to work with core allies to promote democracy and human rights while cooperating with a broader set of states to tackle transnational threats such as climate change, pandemics, and cyberattacks. And although such US-led cooperation is unlikely to emerge soon even if Biden wins, argue Andrew Sheng of the University of Hong Kong and Xiao Geng of Peking University HSBC Business School, another four years of Trump would almost certainly mean a far bleaker outlook for America and the world.

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