External Perceptions Of The Next US Presidential Election – Analysis

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There is no doubt that foreign observers are looking at the US and wondering what will come next. On the foreign front, both Russia and Gaza are key vectors of further international attention. Having just completed Super Tuesday, the US is moving toward its presidential election in November 2024. What type of America will international observers see, as both foreign policy challenges and internal discontent and political jockeying continue?

First, a quick notation: Although a new Trump administration is a possibility, there are still many legal steps that could derail former President Donald Trump’s candidacy, but not stop his political machine or base from operating. So, the prospect of President Joe Biden winning also brings with it many pros and cons. Both leaders are seen as being at a unique stage of their older life. Some in Washington feel that at the end of the day Biden and the Democrats will win because of Trump’s criminal convictions and doubts over his financial affairs.

To be sure, outside observers see American society is divided across a number of different planes that are becoming more complex and creating very sharp divisions. Never has there been such breakdown in family and personal relationships, especially between generations. Polarization runs rampant in the halls of the US Congress all the way down to what’s left of the family dinner table.

Four years ago, in the run-up to the presidential election, there were predictions of major problems on a US local or regional level. Trump-era laws help to complicate local politics, such as abortion, in the US, and the current administration seems to counterbalance gender identity and, consequently, there are urban and state divides over halting current trend lines in these two issues and others. Here polarization takes a whole new level of stress as a factor in the inability to communicate on key policy questions. Issues regarding Texas stand as a case in point. Many outside observers view this behavior as “strange” for America.

The international scene is no less divisive for the US presidential election. A major war in Europe and the tragedy of Palestine and Israel means that US domestic issues will become highly inflamed via rhetoric and information warfare. American universities are exploding from the hatred that is rising, affecting the quality of the education received. Universities today are not learning environments but incubators of narrative hatred. We are seeing now in universities and in workplaces across the US greater divisions leading to major lawsuits, and dismissals of university personnel and suspension of students. 

Naturally, many are looking at the possibility of Trump returning to office based on the fact that Biden has fudged America’s foreign policy to the point of failure at a key moment in regional history in the Middle East. Outside observers note this moment frequently in their analyzes, and many different actors are expanding their influence, such as Iran. Concepts such as strategic failure begin to arise and the discourse regarding what is ongoing with America and what will come next.

Consequently there are two key questions: Is a Trump administration really going to restore Washington’s wrecked moral standing? Do outside observers see Trump as better suited to fix regional issues because of previous and ongoing relationships? The answer is not easy. Policymakers and stakeholders who were observing the situation in Washington are increasingly seeing the pluses of a change in administration and would welcome it because continuation of the current phase and what comes next with both Russia and Gaza is a key determinant.

On top of this break in continuity between the administrations is how the next leader will deal with accusations of human rights violations and genocide. How a new Trump administration would use this as a potential political tool is an interesting question. A rules-based order does not seem to be on the cards, so how will the International Court of Justice contend with such an America? The next administration, whether Biden or Trump, is going to have to deal with the legalities surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and radical settler actions as well as accusations against US government officials.

The presidential election is also showing to the rest of the world that the US has no fresh blood for a political renewal or thinking. Many joke about the Soviet-like nature of the age of America’s leaders, and they do have a point. But Trump would be more willing to use a hammer instead of Biden’s light touch on major policy issues. That fact makes some foreign observers curious, and nervous, about what comes next from the US.

A US election is supposed to be a renewal. Current events preclude more immediate credibility problems. What the morning of Nov. 6, 2024 brings will be seen in the following years.

Dr. Theodore Karasik

Dr. Theodore Karasik is a senior advisor to Gulf State Analytics and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Lexington Institute in Washington, D.C. He is a former Advisor and Director of Research for a number of UAE institutions. Dr. Karasik was a Lecturer at the Dubai School of Government, Middlesex University Dubai, and the University of Wollongong Dubai where he taught “Labor and Migration” and “Global Political Economy” at the graduate level. Dr. Karasik was a Senior Political Scientist in the International Policy and Security Group at RAND Corporation. From 2002-2003, he served as Director of Research for the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy. Throughout Dr. Karasik’s career, he has worked for numerous U.S. agencies involved in researching and analyzing defense acquisition, the use of military power, and religio-political issues across the Middle East, North Africa, and Eurasia, including the evolution of violent extremism. Dr. Karasik lived in the UAE for 10 years and is currently based in Washington, D.C. Dr. Karasik received his PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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