The international implications of the US Presidential elections tend to be seen through the lens of the People’s Republic of China and Russia. Democrats have no love lost for Russia, and Trump hates China. Therefore, China wants Joe Biden to win and Russia wants Trump to win. But there is someone else who is just as interested in the US Presidential polls. We are talking about the German Chancellor and de facto EU leader, Angela Merkel, who shares a rather unsavoury relationship with Donald Trump.
The Brussels-based European Union led by Berlin wants to live off the nostalgia of its trans-Atlantic relationship with the United States of America. Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden too is one of those anachronistic leaders who still thinks that the EU is one of Washington’s core allies. But Trump knows the world is changing and has made it clear that Brussels’ days of free-riding are over. Therefore, as the US elections approach closer, the EU seems to be unequivocally backing Biden over Trump.
US President Donald Trump’s ongoing tenure has witnessed the relationship between the United States and Germany-led European Union getting irreparably bruised. Trump has been making demands of Germany from balancing the US-Germany trade equations that are highly tilted in Berlin’s favour to shouldering the burden of NATO– a military alliance which itself seems to be losing relevance.
Germany itself remains, by far, the biggest power within the European Union. The US-European Union relationship thus tends to mirror the US-Germany relationship. Therefore, developments like Trump administration’s historic decision to reduce troops in Germany, a key NATO ally made it clear that the US is pulling itself away from the European Union.
Trump isn’t just distancing itself from the EU, but also adding insult to EU’s injury by warming up to the United Kingdom. While the US-European Union trade relations are deteriorating, the Trump administration is warming up to a post-Brexit United Kingdom.
Berlin itself has made Trump angry. Angela Merkel had an opportunity of warming up to the White House when the US President started decoupling the free world from China. But the German Chancellor sought to preserve Berlin’s strong business ties with the Communist-authoritarian nation. She rejected American leadership on China and in fact, started dragging the European Union closer to Beijing.
Only very recently, Berlin embarked on a course correction and started criticising the paper dragon. This was, of course, an attempt by Merkel to correct Germany’s blatantly pro-China image. Merkel knows that in the likely case of Trump coming back to power for a second term, Berlin’s closeness to China would boomerang in her or her successor’s face. Therefore, she is trying to tone down Germany’s pro-China narrative.
However, her past proximity to China won’t let her get rid of this image, and if Donald Trump comes back to power, he will start punishing Berlin even more severely for hobnobbing with the paper dragon.
On the other hand, the Joe Biden-led Democrats in the United States have shown that they still fall for the nostalgia of past US-EU bond. Joe Biden’s Tony Blinken has gone as far as saying that Biden would end Trump’s “artificial trade war” trade war against Europe if he comes to power.
Blinken, who was the Deputy National Security Adviser to former US President Obama, said, “The EU is the largest market in the world. We need to improve our economic relations.” He also said that there are many areas of common interest between the US and the EU. Blinken added, “This really goes to the heart of Vice President Biden’s thinking: reaffirming our core alliances.”
MAKE EU-US BONDS STRONG AGAIN! pic.twitter.com/vXbhijDpZi
— Donald Tusk (@donaldtuskEPP) October 17, 2020
And then the Democrats have also proved that just like the European Union, they are also obsessed with Russia. Blinken, for example, said that Biden believes in counteracting Russian aggression, including through coordinated sanctions, if necessary.
Also, while Democrats try to generally criticise China, it is now becoming clear that Biden will go soft on China if elected to power. The Germany-led EU wants a leader which goes soft on China and doesn’t frown upon the Brussels-based organisation for warming up to Beijing.
Lastly, the Democrats have also shown the willingness of choosing the European Union over the United Kingdom. Recently, the US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, threatened to torpedo a US-UK trade deal, if London doesn’t abide by the Northern Island Protocol and “imperils,” the Good Friday Agreement.
The Democrats and the EU are therefore finding themselves on the same page. Donald Trump is becoming a common enemy for them. German Chancellor Angela who is still in control of the Brussels-based international bloc, therefore, wants Trump to lose because she believes that a second tenure for Trump in the White House would lead to Berlin and Brussels becoming irrelevant.
Trump is fast moving the US away from the trans-Atlantic past to the present-day realities of an Indo-Pacific led world, which is why the EU is pinning its hopes against a Trump victory on November 3.