What if Biden wins?

Ahmed Mustafa
Thursday 29 Feb 2024

With many commentators now predicting a win for Trump in November’s US presidential elections, fewer are asking about the likely consequences of a second term for Biden.


An overwhelming amount of focus from commentators and analysts alike has been on answering a hypothetical question: what if Donald Trump wins the US presidential elections in November?

The world is right to ask the question and to try to ponder the answer. The US elections are decided by US voters, and their results primarily concern the American people. Yet, the US and who leads it matters for the whole world.

Voters in the US, like in almost all the other Western democracies, vote based on local economic issues and those that affect their daily lives and prospects. This applies to all elections: local, general, or presidential. But even though the world will be impacted by who wins the US elections, non-Americans have no right to choose the leader whose policies will affect their lives when he enters the White House.

Trump’s four years in the White House as US president were indicative of what the world expects from Trump 2.0 if he wins again in November. Some think that he might be concerned to take revenge, targeting all those who did not agree with his previous term in office. Any vendetta would definitely hurt the so-called US establishment.

Trump and his die-hard supporters still believe that he won the 2020 vote and that the establishment used fraud in the elections to get rid of him. Even the many legal cases he faces now are being blamed on the establishment, and almost half of US voters believe such unfounded claims.

Irrespective of the rights or wrongs of the matter, their votes will determine the results in November. Readers will remember that almost half of British voters voted for Brexit in 2016 based on flagrant lies.

Trump has begun to announce some of the policies he will implement if he returns to power. He intends to impose a ten per cent levy on all imports to the US, not only from China, but also from anywhere else around the world including Europe and other partners. He will also aim to slash US support for NATO, leaving the Europeans with concerns about their security as they rely heavily on their alliance with the US.

Moreover, Trump has promised to end the Ukraine war in his second day in office if he wins the elections. Many in Europe and elsewhere are concerned that this will mean abandoning Kyiv and giving in to Russia and its President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions. But others will welcome Trump 2.0, namely Israeli right wingers and others in the region and beyond who consider Trump to be their friend.

Some in the US and the West think that Trump 2.0 will be less chaotic than before, as he will have learnt from his previous time in office. They perceive him to be a man who came to power from outside traditional politics. As a result, his second term in office might take a more moderate approach than the one taken by his first term. In any case, the world is right to prepare for a Trump win in November.

However, this should not mean completely abandoning the possibility of present US President Joe Biden winning a second term in office. The world should consider the impact of such a win. It might not be right to think that if Biden wins, he will continue with more of the same in terms of policies. On the contrary, these are likely to change, with traditional wisdom telling us that this happens with any US president in his second term.

The world needs also to pitch the question in a different way: what if the Democrats win the November elections? Rising concerns about Biden’s age may lead to the Democrats putting forward another candidate before the elections. Whether it is Biden or another Democrat who will be in the White House in January 2025, the prospect is still significant, both to the American people and to people around the world.

For some around the world, it makes no difference if a Republican or a Democrat wins or if it is Biden or Trump. There are hardliners who could not care less about any change in Washington’s foreign policy. They will likely see the election results from one perspective: whether the winner is weaker or stronger than the loser.

Those who oppose Trump should not automatically be content with a Democrat win. Biden 2.0 will not be the best option for Europe, despite European concerns about a possible Trump win. Though Biden might not tax European exports to the US, he is moving along the path of isolationism in a different way.

The US Inflation Reduction Act introduced by the Biden administration angered the Europeans, for example. It includes subsidies for US companies in the field of advanced technologies that puts America’s European counterparts in an awkward position. Even the green policies of the Democrats are causing discontent in Europe.

Biden 2.0 might increase the pressure on US allies, including the EU, to decouple from China. The Europeans have been resisting that pressure for some time now, but with a Democrat in the White House next year they might find themselves obliged to succumb to it.

For those of us in the Middle East, a second term for Biden might see Washington being a little bit more active in the region. However, in its foreign policy dealings, a more-of-the-same rule will likely prevail. The Democrats will likely keep on pushing for integrating Israel into the region, with less interest in addressing Palestinian rights. Ultimately, the region will find itself losing out on four years of real change.


The writer is a London-based seasoned journalist.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 29 February, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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