Encore America First or Patching Things with Partners: Trump and Biden Fighting Out for Leadership 2020
Currently very important event for the international scene, the election for the President of the United States, was in focus of tonights session. Speakers agreed that these elections will influence multilateral relations and international cooperation through the NATO and the UN, as well as the World Health Organization.
Panel closely considered the impact the elections will have on the world order in the future, the further rise of China and Russia, and the cooperation of the United States with allies in Europe and Asia. It was pointed out that the United States should renew close cooperation with European states, to curb the growth of the authoritarian influence of China and Russia as challengers to American policy in particular parts of the world, such as the Western Balkans.
The focus of the debate also moved to the potential differences in the policies of the two candidates and their potential administrations.
Dr. Karen Donfried, president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, highlighted several problems that the United States administration must face, whether the current one or the new one. Among these problems, she cited the Coronavirus pandemic, economic recovery, climate change, the rise of China and the security.
She stated that the Trans-Atlantic cooperation was important in solving these problems to secure faster and more successful solution. Although she claimed that there was a transatlantic rivalry between America and Europe, she was convinced that this only encouraged a partnership, which can oppose the spread of Chinese influence.
Americans and Europeans needs to demonstrate that Trans-Atlantic cooperation can offer effective solutions to almost all challenges. It is necessary to strengthen multilateralism, which is view by Europeans as ‘existential’.
She pointed out the deeper differences that were noticed during Trump’s term in relations with Europe.
Ivana Stradner, Jeane Kirkpatrick Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), commented on what could be expected from the Biden’s administration would he win the election. She thinks that one of the key changes will be the recovery of multilateralism and cooperation with international organizations.
The only way that you are going to have control of those institutions is if you are inside. So the United States must get back in the game, but the question is whether it would happen.
She pointed out that the isolationism of the Trump administration allowed for the expansion of the influence of China and Russia in international politics. She said that Biden promised a new era of international cooperation, which would imply some changes in relation to Trump’s moves, such as leaving the WHO or withdrawing from various international agreements.
She referred to the relations between America and Europe, saying that the EU expected the leadership of America. As the main problem, she pointed out the silence of America and Europe on the changes in the United Nations System, which were made possible by Trump’s ‘America First’ approach and the election year, as well as the lack of will of European leaders.
Constantine Arvanitopoulos, Professor, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tuft University, recalled America’s declining interest in Europe. Not all the guilt can be blamed on the Trump’s administration, but that the decline in cooperation with Europe and the failure to contain China and Russia have their roots in the Obama’s and Biden’s administration. He believes that certain policies, such as relations with Europe, will not be a significantly changed with the eventual coming of Biden to power.
Since George W. Bush, all American presidents have followed the policy of partial disengagement from Europe.
He also added that concern about Asia is not a new issue in American foreign policy. In his view, regardless of the election results, there will be continuity in American foreign policy when it comes to relations with other global powers. He is of the opinion that the key point of American diplomacy in the future will be Asia and not Europe.