BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS

AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY; BIDEN VS TRUMP

October 05, 2020 Dana Lewis Season 2 Episode 12
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY; BIDEN VS TRUMP
Chapters
0:58
Joseph Williams/ Washington Reporter
15:37
Anar Bata / Chatham House
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY; BIDEN VS TRUMP
Oct 05, 2020 Season 2 Episode 12
Dana Lewis

President Trump has undermined Int. efforts to fight Covid 19.  Clearly a Biden Presidency would be much different on the issue of cooperation on the pandemic.

What about Biden's policies on Russia? China? Afghanistan?  Would Joe Biden be so different than President Obama was before Trump?

On The Paris Climate Accords certainly Trump has withdrawn from them. Biden would rejoin and recognize global warming emergencies. 

On this Back Story Host Dana Lewis talks to Joseph Williams, in Washington.  Joe is a reporter for U.S. News and World Report.   And in London, Anar Bata is the Coordinator of The U.S. and America's Program at Chatham House Think Tank.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

President Trump has undermined Int. efforts to fight Covid 19.  Clearly a Biden Presidency would be much different on the issue of cooperation on the pandemic.

What about Biden's policies on Russia? China? Afghanistan?  Would Joe Biden be so different than President Obama was before Trump?

On The Paris Climate Accords certainly Trump has withdrawn from them. Biden would rejoin and recognize global warming emergencies. 

On this Back Story Host Dana Lewis talks to Joseph Williams, in Washington.  Joe is a reporter for U.S. News and World Report.   And in London, Anar Bata is the Coordinator of The U.S. and America's Program at Chatham House Think Tank.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I learned a lot about covet . I learned it by really going to school.

Speaker 2:

This is the real school.

Speaker 1:

Hi everyone. And welcome to this backstory on America and its presidency. I'm Dana Lewis. We want to focus as much as we can on foreign policy, as Biden and Trump five for the presidency in November. What will change America and NATO, the U S and the Paris climate Accords, Syria, Afghanistan, China, but perhaps nothing is more troubling than Trump undercutting American democracy. And how does that play in places like fellow routes where thousands are being arrested and freedom is in a choke hold by a dictator. Oh yes. And we can't forget Russia on this backstory us foreign policy and how it could look completely

Speaker 2:

In just a few months.

Speaker 1:

Joseph Williams is in Washington, a reporter with us news and world report. He covers the white house national politics. Hi Joseph. Thanks for doing it.

Speaker 2:

Hi, good to see you, Donald Trump riding her in a hermetically sealed car, pumped up on stage ,

Speaker 1:

Exposing secret service agents and others. Uh, you know, to just to say hi to people and campaign a little bit

Speaker 2:

Outside Walter Reed medical center. I mean, everybody's head is spinning at this point. It's , it's pretty remarkable. Uh , and I think from a medical point of view, it's pretty outrageous, at least the way we see it from here in London. Um, well, it's, there are a couple of things that , uh, take the outreach view . The first and foremost is the fact that we're here at all, right. I mean, this is a president who abjectly denied the fact that this virus was harmful, took great pains to , to avoid wearing masks and saw anyone who wore a mask as somebody , uh, evidencing weakness. Right? So number one, you know , the fact that we're here in the first place is just , uh, it's, it's even hard to overstate how absurd and ridiculous that is. So that's number one, number two. Uh, this man has the best medical advice and medical teams at his disposal yet for years. Well, not years , but ever since the virus took place , uh , six months ago, he is refused. He feels like, yeah, don't want , feels like you're exactly, but he's refused the advice of medical professionals and had tried to downplay the virus, even though in private, he admitted how horrible and how deadly this potentially deadly this virus is. So that's, that's the second part that has people's heads spinning. But third part is that we can't get a straight answer from the white house about what his condition was, how bad it was. What's his condition. Now what the general prognosis he's on steroids. Now, the steroids are good. He's on an experimental drug. He's on another drug that they're using only for the most extreme patients, but he could walk out of here tomorrow. You know, we think he's doing so well, that , that he could he's half , he's got the strength of 10 minutes . So there's there, there's a bunch of factors at work here that lead us to question whether or not we as Americans being told the whole truth, whether or not the president has actually learned a lesson here and whether or not , uh , this is going to be a , a situation of bears watching if he's going to relapse because the virus, the virus happens very suddenly a lot of times. And if he's going to be in the clear, and if he's going to be able to exercise the judgment that a president of the United States needs to exercise.

Speaker 1:

Well , I can tell you, after living through prime minister, Boris Johnson's experience here, because he got COVID-19 after being pretty casual about the whole thing and Britain as a result had the worst number of deaths in Europe. I mean, he, he originally got it. And then , uh, he didn't go into hospital for about nine days and then it became very serious. And then he was that close to being put on a ventilator, but he wasn't, he was on oxygen. And he said, he came very close to losing his life there. So, I mean, there is, there is still a road to, to pay for your, in terms of Trump's recovery back. Maybe he goes home now, maybe he doesn't, but has it shifted the election debate now completely back probably to where it should be to COVID-19 and his handling of it.

Speaker 2:

There is no doubt that it has. I mean, before then we were talking about Supreme court justices before then we were talking about whether or not , uh, our tough guy president has what it takes to get the country back to where it was , uh , before he took office. Uh, but now COVID-19 is, is his word one , uh , you can't have a sitting president who was running for reelection hospitalized and not talk about that. So certainly the , the, the virus has, has reclaimed center state . The open question is whether or not his message is going to remain the same, that this is all in the past and that the worst of it is behind us. And that I am strong and I am in control, even though I got a virus that , that I was trying to tell everybody didn't exist and didn't matter. So his messaging on that almost certainly has to change

Speaker 1:

Over the weekend. He said he learned a lot. He's learned more about the virus and he's going to be sharing some of that. Any idea what on earth to learn that he wouldn't already know?

Speaker 2:

You know, it's hard to tell because if you learn a lot about the virus, that means his, his starting place was really not in a good place to begin with. If, if the leader of the free world, the leader of the country, that's leading the world in the number of Corona virus , cases and deaths. If he is only now learning about the virus that speaks very ill of him, the second thing is, did he really learn a lesson? Because he's out parading around in his car gathering, you know, soaking up some love from some of his fans, putting secret service agents at risk unnecessarily. There was no need for him to do that. Yeah, granted they're wearing hazmat suits. Granted they were wearing masks , but still, why do this, why do this

Speaker 1:

We're of the same mind here? We both, I think we both considered a pretty dumb thing to do, but there are probably his followers who think that that was a great thing to do that he came out and thanked people and showed that he's strong and that he's with them. And it plays very differently to Republicans.

Speaker 2:

Well, it plays very differently . Republicans and also plays very well in States like Argentina States like Venezuela, where you have a strong man leader and we're the United States. We're not supposed to be that way. And if the Republicans are cheered by this, that says something very simple , it's very significant. I believe about their party and where it is in the United States, body politics. I mean ,

Speaker 1:

You just helped me switch a little bit to foreign affairs in a , in a , an American foreign policy when you start talking about overseas, because when you talk about countries like Belarus, which are right now, you know, ignited in accusations of fraudulent elections, and there are sanctions against the strong man , president Lucas , Shanko , who is jailing his opposition, and, you know, America is one of those, not one of those countries. It is the country that normally wades in here and speaks with moral authority about democracy and freedom of speech and free and fair elections. But how can you expect America to do that? Now when Donald Trump is undermining the democratic process in November saying that he may accept the result, or he may not, he may, it's, it's full of these mail in ballots. He's saying that that that's, that that's a stacked election. Um , and he's not committing themselves to a peaceful transition of power. It's difficult

Speaker 2:

[inaudible] to have any moral authority when we're that way. And you might've noticed that we have not talked all that much. At least he hasn't talked all that much publicly about Bellaruse about Argentina, about Venezuela, and about all the , uh , States around the world that are struggling to maintain democracy. Uh, he is an on the contrary, he's cozied up to people like , uh, deter Duterte in the Philippines. He's talked admiringly of Vladimir Putin. He's talked a lot about how he wishes. He were able to throw a military parade like , uh, like , uh, McCrone biz and France, because these are all signals . These are all , all indications in his mind of strong authority and , and bold leadership, but it plays very differently in the United States. And, and it's very question is very puzzling why he's gotten as far as he has with this kind of a underlying tone to his message.

Speaker 1:

And he didn't speak out on, I mean, it's shocking that he didn't speak out in Nevada County , the main opposition member who was poisoned with nerve agent in Russia. But, you know, again, that's an example if I'm not willing to criticize Putin in any way or criticize the Kremlin , um, can you, can you talk to me about Biden? I mean, his Biden on foreign policy, like Russia, for instance, since we're talking about that, do you expect him to be much tougher than Trump has been,

Speaker 2:

Expect him to be much tougher than Trump has been on Russia? Um , are we going to head towards the brink of war? No. Is he going to be fondly , uh, talking about , uh, his pal Vladimir ? No, I don't think he is. We're going to go back to a conventional foreign policy, I believe , uh, trying to maintain and enhance democracy, the world , uh, doing a few things that people don't really notice that might raise the hackles of some human rights , uh, advocates , uh, but it's going to be very much more conventional, very much in the mold of Obama. However, there are things where a Biden split with Obama , uh, including , uh, Iraq , uh, very famously , uh, Joe Biden wanted Iraq to be divvied up into three States , uh, and , uh, not have the U S may be , uh , maintain a presence there for long. Uh, people said, well, no, that's insane. We can't do that. There'll be ethnic violence, you know, from here to kingdom come, and his view did not prevail, but there were some who remind us of that. Uh, and there are some of us who remind us that, that Joe Biden knows a lot of the world leaders, but his is a very centrist foreign policy. So I would not expect anything beyond a boilerplate United States , uh, talking points about human rights and about , uh , advancing democracy, which while turning a blind eye to some abuses , uh, among allies like the Saudis and , uh, uh , the , uh, middle East and the , uh, uh, not Iranians , but the , um , Israelis. Um, we're probably have a more hawkish stance on Iran, although we'll probably go back into the nuclear deal because that only makes sense, but it's going to Trump . It has less hawkish than Trump, but it is going to raise some hackles on the right. There are going to be some, some complaints about him, a seeding tour ran when everybody, including the Iranians believe that this field makes sense.

Speaker 1:

Carbon emissions, the Paris Accords, I mean, Biden is basically articulated that would America resign.

Speaker 2:

I believe they would. Um , mainly because , uh , he is being forced to recognize he's his, his left flank is forcing him to recognize that , uh , climate change is a thing. Uh, and the wildfires in California only underscore that we've had significant weather events. We've had significant fires that speak to the need to get back into the Paris accord and the Paris accord might not be enough. We might be there too late . So , uh , we're definitely going to be hearing more about climate change in a post Trump presidency. But the question is whether or not we're able to do anything about it in time to save lives and property

Speaker 1:

Afghanistan really quickly, Donald Trump has tweeted among many tweets from the hospital, peace through strength, bring our soldiers home. Now he didn't say home from where , uh, but I, he's probably talking about Afghanistan and there's not very many left. Anyway. I think there's 5,500. They were going to bring them down to 3,500 by the November election. There are peace negotiations with the Taliban fat chance in my personal opinion, that that's going to bring about real peace in Afghanistan. But again on Afghanistan, he's probably wants to get out. And

Speaker 2:

Yeah , absolutely. Um, Biden probably will maintain some kind of a presence mainly because it is in our best interest to do that. I mean, the Taliban negotiations with the Afghan government, they haven't been going really very well. And as soon as the U S leaves all hell could potentially break loose. So I don't think he's going to hit the exit ramp quite as quickly as, as Trump is. Uh , but I do think there's going to be some discussion about maintaining a minimal footprint in the U S because this is the longest war that the us has ever had. So I would expect if Biden continues on the centrist track, I would expect him to talk about removing fruits . I just don't think that he would do it abjectly and do it in a way that could cause a very fragile government to collapse.

Speaker 1:

The biggest one I left for last and that's China. So, I mean, it's really been Trump's punching bag on everything from trade to , to security Taiwan. I mean, they've been overtly supportive of Taiwan. What do you think the Biden is going to change on , on China? Should he become the next presence ?

Speaker 2:

Interestingly, I don't think that much will change as least as far as , uh, as far as , uh, uh, Taiwan and Hong Kong are concerned. I think that they will keep a very close watch on what happens over there. I think the Biden ministration will do that. Uh, we're probably going to see a Susan Rice as , uh , secretary of state. She very much is in the mold of , of Obama and , uh, the Obama years where there will be some, a lot of talk about , uh , democracy. There'll be a lot of talk about protection from the Chinese, but Biden himself has also been using the Chinese . The Chinese is a punching bag. Uh, as a matter of fact on the debate, one of those points that Trump tried to score is maintaining that China has eaten Biden's lunch. Uh, we don't necessarily think that that's true. We do know that Obama was not , uh , conciliatory towards China, but nor was he declaring them as a fear ally. As a matter of fact, on Obama's watch the South China sea , uh, basis started popping up. So expect Biden to , to draw a stricter line on China. He's probably not going to go hard at least not to the brink of war, but he certainly will not let them , uh , go unchecked , uh , in their request to expand power,

Speaker 1:

Shifting back to the U S I want to leave it there with you, but do you think election night, a lot of people predicting chaos, a lot of people predicting that Trump will call his people to the street and to polling stations. And they'll say, don't allow those ballots, those, those mailing ballots to be counted, that there could be violence. I mean, depending on where you stack up on this, you think you're going to have a result on election night. Are you going to have months of court battles

Speaker 2:

And maybe well, I mean, the , the , the , um , I think that what will happen is going to be determined by how the vote goes early. I mean, so far early votes have been at record numbers in order to avoid that thing , uh , to avoid any kind of unrest or questions there's going to have to be a decisive victory or a decisive defeat by either one of the candidates. That's the only way I think that there will be a unrest not taking place. I think that the violence, the , the potential for violence seems to be a lot more , uh , a lot more likely on the right, mainly because , uh, they are pro gun they're pro uh , second amendment, and we've seen , uh , people on the right

Speaker 1:

Bring guns to peaceful rallies. So I think that that's going , uh , that's more likely in that instance, however, I don't think you could argue in because he's called them out. He is, I was going to say that he has actually called them out and has issued a Clarion call and he's kind of walked it back, but not especially vigorously. So I think that if we have a decisive result, he may try to challenge it in the court, but there may be some people will talk them out of it. If it's a divided election with many votes left on, counted through the mail, I think that will, that will hike the potential for chaos. And I think that if it's anything but a decisive victory, there will be potential for unrest, at least violence add most Joe Williams, a reporter with us news and world report. Joe . Thanks a lot. My pleasure. Alright . And then our about , uh , is also in London where I am and she's with the U S and America's program at Chatham house, a think tank in London. Hi, Anna , how are you?

Speaker 3:

Hi, Dana. Thanks so much for having me today. I'm good . How are you?

Speaker 1:

My head is spinning today because I'm watching drive by a coverage of Donald Trump who left the hospital at the Walter Reed medical center. And then , uh, you know, in a hermetically sealed vehicle , uh, you know , drove around with secret service agents , uh , waving at his supporters outside the hospital. And I'm just, I'm like everybody else, a little breathless over it . I can't believe that he did it. And , uh, so many medical people are condemning him for it. Um , how do you feel about it?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean, I think you you've raised some really good points. I think at this point in time, it's hard to be surprised by what Trump will do next. Um, as you say, you know, yesterday on , on the 4th of October, he took , um, a joy ride outside of his hospital. Um, he's gotten a lot of criticism for that recently for endangering the secret service agents that were in the car with him, apparently the way that the car was sealed, made it even more likely for the coated particles to get passed to secret service agents. But I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that, you know, Trump, he likes the unfair, he likes the attention. Um, you know, he's very concerned about his image and I think he wants to show voters that he's very tough. Um, he's not getting get overcome by this virus. Um, you know, we're less than a month to go until the election. So engaging with voters, especially in swing States is very essential right now. Um, and he's not going to have the opportunity to meet with them in person anymore, or to stage, you know, his big rallies that were so popular in 2016. So I think that was his attempt at engaging with the voters, however, reckless it was. And, you know, the backlash that he's he's facing his core supporters are , are still there defending him. So I'm not sure despite the criticism, whether or not that move really hurt him.

Speaker 1:

Well , blame it on the steroids, the view from overseas on, on America's handling of COVID , um, and specifically Trump's handling of it. I mean, when you're sitting here in London, the, the, the view is a lot different than when you're in the U S I think. And so how do Europeans, and even here in Britain where, you know, there's been some, maybe 65,000 excess deaths due to COVID-19 Britain has been hit hardest in Europe. Um, how do you think people view what's going on in America?

Speaker 3:

So I think America's global image has really suffered quite dramatically, especially with coronavirus. I think, you know, that was already starting to take a hit when Trump became president in 2017 and it has just dropped significantly since , uh, the COVID pandemic has had started. I do think there is a difference between how it's perceived on the ground here and how it's perceived in America. So, you know, his handling a bit over here seems very chaotic, very mismanaged , um, you know, not listening to science, not listening to PACS , ignoring his advisers . I think, you know, the European partners definitely will , are hoping for a change in administration.

Speaker 1:

Let's be honest about it. Do you think that people look at Trump? I mean, we've seen world leaders from Trudeau to Macron, to Merkel. I mean, rolling their eyes when they're around him. I mean, is he, is he laughed at, in Europe, do you think?

Speaker 3:

I definitely don't think he's taken as seriously as a presidential candidate should be. Um, I don't know if they're laughing so much as, you know , recoiling fear because the U S does play a very important role as you know , the leader of democracy and the defender of freedom. And I think European partners are getting a bit worried by recent U S actions that seem to be undermining , uh , these values that the U S custard for and European partners stand for. So I think, you know, there is criticism of Trump interpret whether or not he is a capable leader, but it's more so what does this mean for our region? How does this impact our interests? Another four years?

Speaker 1:

I know a lot of different nuts and people based in different countries for the U S who have worked on human rights, who have worked on free speech. Um, and I think that they are, you know , deeply alarmed that America has either withdrawn internationally , um , or just as lost a lot of credibility. So, you know, how does this play internationally , uh , when you have Trump , um, on issues like the election where he's undermining the , the American election, where he's saying that the mail in ballots , uh, amount to election fraud , um, that maybe he's not going to accept the result. Maybe there's not going to be a peaceful transition of power. I mean, and how does that play when you're watching things in Eastern Europe like Belarus right now, where there are demonstrators out every weekend demonstrating against widespread election fraud carried out by the, the ex president , uh , Lucas Shenko .

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean, it's very concerning. I think, you know, European partners definitely want to see America as a defender of democracy. Um , as you've mentioned, the peaceful transition of power, that's a cornerstone of any democratic nation. Trump has already made it very clear that he's not going to accept whatever results come out, if they're not in his super , um, you know, he's are the stroking flames of, of directions and voter fraud and things like that. So, I mean, I think there are a number of different tactics that Trump has used to undermine different democratic institutions within the States and internationally , um, which is very concerning as populism. And our authoritarianism is on the right . And, you know, by being distracted with these internal divisions that gaze external actors like Russia, more leverage in terms of manipulating what's happening in Bella ruse in their own favor. So it is worrying about what the future of democracies globally will be like if Trump gets reelected,

Speaker 1:

I think it sends a message. Anything goes, I mean, if you could, if it can go on in American , it can go on anywhere. And leaders like Lucas Shanko . And I mean, Putin does what he wants anyway, but I mean leaders like Lucas Schenkel , think, you know, if Trump's doing and I can do what I want and not only is America distracted , uh , but their president is not going to stand up and criticize me, look what he's doing in his own country.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I mean, I definitely think it emboldens authoritarian actors, you know, in the past the U S would be considered the bulwark against these nefarious influences or these negative influences. I don't think that's going to be the case anymore. Trump has, you know, CoSIDA to authoritarians leaders, he as a , uh , reportedly very close relationship with Erewhon and Turkey , um, he's, you know, not taking very aggressive measures against Russia. He didn't impose sanctions after reports came out that the bounties on us soldiers heads in Afghanistan. So there are a lot of different factors. Um ,

Speaker 1:

Probably the poisoning Novotny . They may not position candidate in Russia where he's asked to over Trump was asked over and over again about it. And he, I mean, basically danced around it and avoided answering. And we'll see about that later. And he didn't condemn it. I mean, there are other members of the government that have condemned it, but Trump specifically has not come out and condemned it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And that's, you know, also worrying for European partners who want to have a United Western front against Russia. So we're seeing Germany and France is very critical of Russia over the Navalny poisoning. Um, you know, but they don't have the backing of, of the U S and they might not trust the U S to partner with them.

Speaker 1:

Do you think Joe, Biden's going to be a tiger. Do you think Joe, Biden's going to be a tiger for Putin to deal with that? I mean, Biden will be much tougher.

Speaker 3:

I think Biden will definitely be much tougher. Um , he's already opened the called , uh , Russia and opponent. He's already said that P's elected president in 2020, and there is evidence of , um, Russia interfering in U S election, which there is that he would take a much harder line of action against them than Trump data. Um, so, you know, I think , uh , Trump a second Trump term , um, bit of a tongue twister, sorry about that. A second Trump term would be , um, in Putin's favor very much. So , um, Trump has, you know, caused a lot of divisions within his European partners. He's constantly undervalue the role of NATO. He has given Russia a huge strategic victory within the middle East. Um, Brighton has also said that he would have been much tougher in that area. He would not have abandoned the Kurdish allies as an and pulled out the U S troops as Trump did. So there are multiple different areas where we can see that Biden would operate a much tougher stance against Russia, including imposing sanctions and working with like my department.

Speaker 1:

Generally, when you take a look at his report card at the end of his term, a lot of people thought he was soft in foreign policy areas. You think Biden will be tougher?

Speaker 3:

I do think so. I think the fact that Obama was soft kind of empowered poop into , you know, go a little bit further in terms of information campaigns that we were seeing in 2016 had Obama been a bit tougher on Russia. He might not have been as willing to do that. So I think, you know, the Democrats have learned their lesson in a certain way and know that they now need to be a little bit tougher. The digital era has given Russia a lot more powers than they had before. A lot more influence than , you know, they would have had 20 years ago. And those factors really need to be accounted for.

Speaker 1:

Talk to me about Biden and his , uh, you know, the Paris Accords and the reduction of carbon emissions. I mean, Trump basically is a , is a global warming denier. And , uh , Barb Biden has , has articulated some pretty clear goals, including , uh , you know , carbon neutrality by 2050, which is like 10 years before China has come up with its plan. Now for 2060, do you need Biden right away in the Paris Accords will reassign America up and realign America with a lot of the, you know , countries who believe that global warming is, is rapidly taking place. Uh , and then America's got to get on board.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I definitely think , um , Trump will resign up to the Paris accord. I think that will send a very clear signal to European partners that the last four years were just an aberration of , of us policy and us global leadership , um, you know, Biden. I think it's very important for him to commit to a multilateral agenda to combat these major challenges that are affecting the entire world. Um, you know, one country can't go at it alone, but you do need major power in order to facilitate cooperation amongst other nations and what they're not that symbolic or actually hard power. Um, either way Biden's commitment to the Paris Accords will show the U S commitment to climate change and influence other powers to take them seriously as well.

Speaker 1:

You want to take a run at Iranian American foreign policy with regard to Iran. I'm not familiar

Speaker 3:

With Iran . I'm , I'm being entirely honest. Um, my assumption would be that Biden would attempt to come negotiate with Iran and convince them to rejoin the JCPO way . Um, I'm not sure how successful he would be. It would be hard to convince them that , um, you know, something stock going to happen again with, with Biden's predecessor in terms of the U S pulling out of the agreement. Um, there have been claims that Iran has also been involved in misinformation campaigns within the U S uh, in favor of Biden.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And then they're pretty substantial claims including from intelligence agencies.

Speaker 3:

Yes, yes, exactly. And, you know, I do think Iranians are concerned about what a second Trump term of maximum pressure would do to their economy in terms of how Biden would proceed , uh, for China

Speaker 1:

And is going to be softer. I mean, Trump always accuses him of being softer on China. Do you think that that's fair?

Speaker 3:

I don't think that's fair. I do think that Biden will probably operate on a very tough on China approach, similar to Trump. I think he will attempt , um , more engagement and more cooperation. Now , China, with certain issues, for example, potentially working with them to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 or, you know, sharing resources for, for something like a global pandemic. Um, but he has made clear that his main priority is recurrent infrastructure at home. Um, so it's not likely that he would take a softer approach. I think from what we saw in the debates foreign policy, wasn't a topic of the debate, but trying to continue to come up as a punching bag that each opponent would use. Um, so it's become very politicized and there has been a clear shift in the way the American public views , China. I do think they see it more as a threat , um , in terms of economically and technologically. Um, so I , I think by and recognizes that, and while understanding need for engagement and cooperation on search Jews will obtain a test stance , um , on things like trade and intellectual property theft,

Speaker 1:

You know , coming back to Europe for a moment. I mean, do you think there's been a lot of nervousness over Trump? I mean, including a NATO, you know, would Trump withdraw from NATO and was it just a, was it just a good bargaining position that he took with trying to get NATO countries to come up to the 2% of GDP contributions or was he serious? And then I've talked to other people that said, actually he's been more pro NATO now than, than maybe earlier on in his term, but in general, there is a sense in Europe, would you say , uh , with, with the big countries , certainly in the cornerstones of NATO , uh , that Trump has just not been a reliable partner and that they've had to take their own leadership, like Merkel has said, we've got to lead from Europe. We can't just rely on America to do it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I mean, I definitely think this , um, idea that Europe needs to take more responsibility for its own defense is becoming more popular over here. Um, I think Trump's, you know, claims about defending NATO are somewhat empty threats. I don't think he would actually, you know, effectively abolish the Alliance, but he has, you know, announced that he's going to be removing, I think 38,000 shoots from Germany. I wouldn't need to double check that figure, but something along those lines , um , 6,000,

Speaker 1:

Because he doesn't like Merkel. And I'll tell you this , I've talked to a lot of people in NATO and the former American commander of us forces in Europe. And it makes no sense because they've just restructured and upgraded a lot of their bases in Germany. And they say, essentially it is because of the tension he has had with Angela Merkel and that, you know, they're going to move some of those troops to Poland. So it's not, I don't want to create the impression that they're , they're bringing them all back, but a lot of it just comes down to Trump's personality and the way he engaged with Merkel .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I mean, I definitely agree with that. I think Trump puts a lot of value into his personal relationship with leaders and that really does impact his, his relationship and his policy , um, rightly or wrongly. Um, you know, as we discussed earlier, he has a, you know, not, I wouldn't say close relationship with Putin, but my excite seem , uh , see a like minded figure and

Speaker 1:

I have a serious relationship with Putin at the very least.

Speaker 3:

Yes, exactly, exactly. And that, you know, definitely influences some of his decisions in that respect , um, likely that his, you know, not so good relationship with Merkel encouraged him to relocate many of the troops that were stationed there.

Speaker 1:

You know, he's been doing a series of tweets out of the hospital, the LA vote. One of them was peace through strength, bring our soldiers home vote. I have no idea what he's talking about there. I assume it's Afghanistan where, you know, the U S has been there since nine 11 , uh , and there are peace negotiations. So-called peace negotiations that are going on with the Taliban, but in general, there aren't very many troops left there. Anyway, there's about 5,000. I think they're going to , they're done or they're down to 3,500 by the election time. And he wants to bring the rest home. A lot of people worry that Afghanistan is just going to turn around, put the Taliban back into power in those 20 years of fighting 19 years of fighting brought us what I , I don't know. I mean, w we, the U S deconstructed bases that were being used by Al Qaeda, but where does that take us in terms of security in Afghanistan, if he's just trying to do these slogans for the election, bring troops home. Do you want to comment on that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I mean, I think that there have been, there have been claims where that Trump has spoken very negatively about military families. He's been, you know, he's called them skirts and things like that. So I'm assuming that's his attempt at regaining that, that vote , um, in terms of making it clear that he does care about, you know, the troops and the families of the troops , um, whether or not that's in the U S as best strategic interest, I don't think is, but Trump has operated in the past based on impulse and not on what his advisors are telling him. So for example , um , pulling out troops from Syria in such a hasty manner , um , what's really not encouraged. And he did so anyways, Russia, a huge yes, in , in Syria , um, giving Russia huge strategic victory, and really under mining , uh , the U S has influence in the region. So like good or bad. I, I don't think that it's unlikely that Trump would do that in Afghanistan as well.

Speaker 1:

I mean, it's very interesting what's happening because you take a look at some of the international vacuums that have been left under the Trump administration, Libya, where you now have Turkey and Syria backing different warlords and potentially being adversaries and Syria. And then now also with Azerbaijan and Armenia in the caucuses. And there , there are a lot of vacuums that are left by a lack of , of American leadership. And I don't know if that will return with, with Biden. Um , you know, let's re let's leave it there. Do you think that Biden will, will refill some of those gaps and put America's presence back? Or do you think that we're giving him too much credit without really understanding , uh, you know, his stated foreign policy in those areas? Cause he hasn't said a lot and frankly, the last debate didn't really deal with any of it.

Speaker 3:

It didn't buy policy, wasn't wet at the Bay topics, but it is quite interesting to look out where different countries did come up. It was around very politicized, partisan issues within the States in terms of what was discussed at the debate. I do think Biden will make an attempt to repair relationships with allies, especially European allies and to reassert America's role as a global leader , um, by, you know , resigning up to the Paris Accords as we discussed earlier , um, by recommitting funding to the world health organizations . So doing different things along those lines, which strengthen international institutions. Um, I do think that Europe will need to do more, to come show Biden and the States that they are willing to carry their own weight. So meeting that minimum, spend for NATO taking on more of their defense capabilities, you know, I think the U S is getting increasingly more concerned about the rise of China and that will continue to be one of the major things that the next president, whoever it is, will focus on. And so, you know, Europe needs to decide if they're , they're willing to work with us on those issues or if they would prefer to, you know, just take a back seat and do their, their own thing

Speaker 1:

And our better . Thank you so much as the coordinator of the U S and America's program at Chatham house. Thank you enough. Thank you so much for having good job. Thank you so much. And that's our backstory on us foreign policy. Please subscribe to this podcast and share I'm Dana Lewis, the host and creator. And I'll talk to you again soon.

Joseph Williams/ Washington Reporter
Anar Bata / Chatham House