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North America

March Brief: Implications of a Trump Re-Election – A Global Outlook

A Trump re-election has strong foreign policy implications: an insecure NATO, US isolationism, and a reinforced Israel.

March Brief: Implications of a Trump Re-Election – A Global Outlook

Montag, 12. Februar 2024

March Brief: Implications of a Trump Re-Election – A Global Outlook


As the prospect of Donald Trump winning the 2024 US presidential elections grows large, it is critical to foresee the effects of his possible re-election on global events. This brief examines the implications of important aspects of Trump's foreign policy agenda, by focusing on the potential US withdrawal from NATO, his authoritarian and isolationist tendencies, and the influence of his Middle East policies as illustrated by the Abraham Accords. Understanding these factors is crucial to navigate the changing geopolitical scene in future years. 


Donald Trump's claims regarding a possible US withdrawal from NATO during his second term in office carry significant consequences. Analysing his track record, particularly the execution of his threat to quit the Paris Agreement, reveals a pattern of turning campaign rhetoric into policy action. Trump's growing popularity strengthens the possibility of an American exit from NATO. This raises doubts on the reliability of the military alliance’s defense mechanisms and in itself puts European security at risk. With his rhetoric, Trump may encourage Russia to escalate tensions, thus raising the possibility of further armed conflicts. Without US commitments to NATO, European countries’ defense posture may deteriorate, which jeopardizes regional stability and calls transatlantic connections into question. Overall, this has the potential to transform the geopolitical landscape unfavourably for Europe.


Moreover, Trump is openly plotting to overthrow the American democracy and translate his authoritarian views onto foreign policy. While he already shares ideological and organisational ties with neoliberal authoritarian politicians like Argentina's President Milei, e.g. through the Atlas Network, Trump’s re-election would equip him with executive power to support his authoritarian connections. Furthermore, Trump is threatening to cut funding or withdraw the US entirely from international agreements and institutions. His willingness to put his campaign rhetoric into practice was exemplified by the US’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords in 2020. Evaluations of Trump’s political companions and associated think tanks indicate that during a second term, he would pull out the US from the World Health Organization and further obstruct the work of the World Trade Organization.


In 2022, the Abraham Accords marked a major breakthrough for the Trump administration in achieving normalisation of relations between several Arab nations and Israel. The agreement came at the price of conceding the spirit of the Arab Peace Initiative, which had conditioned normalisation of relations on concessions to Palestinian statehood. While the Abraham Accords were internationally acclaimed at the time, the catastrophic Gaza war demonstrates that lasting peace in the Middle East is an illusion without taking Palestinian interests into account. Trump heavily profits from an evangelical voting base, which overwhelmingly believes that God gave Israel to the Jewish people. If he gets re-elected, he is expected to boldly reaffirm his support for Israel, breaching more political taboos than just the embassy transfer to Jerusalem. 


In February 2021, newly inaugurated President Biden proclaimed: “America is back. Diplomacy is back at the centre of our foreign policy”. Despite the fact that America has neither reliably complied to international law nor demonstrated exemplary diplomacy prior to Trump, the prospect of his re-election demonstrates that the US’ role in the international system hangs in the balance every four years. Many international partners, especially in Europe, are realising that they depend on the leadership of a country whose democratic institutions are teetering on the brink of collapse. However, this gives Europe the unprecedented chance to develop an independent foreign policy agenda. For example, this offers the opportunity to cease militaristic approaches and focus on humanitarian policy, e.g. regarding the wars in Gaza and Yemen. 

Authors

Talha Afzal

Talha Afzal

Theo Kaiser

Theo Kaiser

North America

About this working group

North America is a continent in the Northern and Western Hemispheres. North America is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea, and to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean. Greater North America includes the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Île Clipperton, Greenland, México, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States of America.

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