The Biden-Trump Debate

Why the Biden-Trump Debate Should Fill the World with Horror

The Biden-Trump Debate

After the disastrous performance by America’s President Joe Biden at his debate with his electoral rival, former President Donald Trump, the New York Times said in an editorial that “the greatest public service Mr. Biden can now perform is to announce that he will not continue to run for re-election”. The Times didn’t mince its words or what it thought of Biden’s suitability to run for a second term. Neither did millions of Americans who watched the debate.

Nearly universally, the reaction in the US to that near-surreal event has been of disbelief, anger, embarrassment and shame as they watched Biden, 81, dither, stutter, lose control of his sentences, whisper nonsense, forget words, and, in short, make a mess of an opportunity to demonstrate his ability to uphold the future of American democracy in the face of the threat it faces from a contender such as Trump.

Ironically, it was Biden who challenged Trump to the debate but, in the end, it was Trump who scored the points. During the debate, Trump may have lied brazenly (several post-debate fact checks have borne this out); accused his opponent falsely; and threatened him vindictively but in comparison to Biden’s performance, he astonishingly came out as the winner.

Yet, while Democrats in America are now grappling, quite belatedly, with the question of whether Biden can be persuaded to stand down in favour of a new candidate with only four months to go before the elections, his debate with Trump should send tremors of horror around the world.

Most Powerful Man in the World

The office of the US President holds significant importance on the world stage, and is often described as the most powerful elected position globally. The US President is the primary architect of US foreign policy, which has far-reaching implications for global affairs. As President, he can negotiate treaties, meet with foreign leaders, and shape international relations more effectively than any other nation in the world.

The US President is the commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful armed forces and he can deploy troops, order military actions, including nuclear weapon deployment, and significantly influence global security dynamics.

His economic influence globally is immense. The US is the world’s largest economy with a GDP of around $26 trillion, it towers above the other large economies–China’s at $17 trillion; Japan’s at $4.2 trillion; and Germany’s at $ 4 trillion. US decisions on trade, sanctions, and economic policies can have a huge impact on global markets and economies.

The US remains a dominant force in global geopolitics, wielding significant economic, military, and cultural influence. Economically, as the world’s largest economy it is a major driver of global trade and financial markets. Its currency, the US dollar, continues to be the world’s primary reserve currency, giving the US considerable leverage in international finance.

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Militarily, the US maintains the most powerful and technologically advanced armed forces globally, with a network of alliances and bases spanning the globe. This military supremacy allows the US to project power and influence events far beyond its borders.

“If the US elects one of the two potentially incompetent
candidates that we saw on Thursday’s debate,
it could hasten the change in the world order.

Culturally and technologically, American soft power remains potent. US media, entertainment, and tech companies have a global reach, shaping narratives and influencing consumer behavior worldwide.

Neither Biden Nor Trump Make A Pretty Picture 

Last Thursday’s debate showed in whose hands this enormous power could vest–the incumbent President Biden or the former President Trump. Neither makes for a pretty picture. Biden, at 81 is clearly past his expiry date; and Trump, at 78, is no spring chicken. At the debate, it was clear that Biden had aged exponentially–he could barely finish sentences and when he did he rarely made sense. Trump can talk and he did but he too rarely made any sense and often lied. 

Unless something drastic happens, America is likely to be in the hands of either of these two men. That should spell horror for the rest of the world.

The US still dominates the current world order. In Europe, it is the leading force behind NATO, which is now faced with the threat of an aggressive Russia that has continued its war of aggression against Ukraine for well over two years. In the Middle East, where Israel and Hamas are locked in conflict, decisions made by the US have a huge bearing on the future.

Flux in the World Order

However, the current world order is in flux. The post-World War II liberal international order, largely shaped by the US and its allies, faces growing challenges. Rising powers, particularly China and to a lesser extent Russia, are increasingly assertive in reshaping global norms and institutions to better suit their interests.

If the US elects one of the two potentially incompetent candidates that we saw on Thursday’s debate, it could hasten the change in the world order. 

China’s economic rise and growing military capabilities pose the most significant challenge to US hegemony. Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative and its efforts to establish alternative international institutions reflect its ambition to reshape the global order. 

Russia, while economically weaker, leverages its military strength, energy resources, and diplomatic influence to challenge US interests, particularly in Europe and the Middle East.

Other regional powers like India, Brazil, and Turkey are also seeking greater autonomy and influence in their respective spheres, contributing to a more complex and multipolar international system.

This shift is leading to increased competition and tension in various domains–from trade and technology to military and ideological spheres. The result is a more uncertain and potentially volatile global landscape, where the rules-based international order is under strain and great power competition is intensifying.

The moderators from CNN who organised Thursday’s debate did not focus much on the challenges that the world order faced and what the two candidates thought of that. Probably a good thing that they didn’t. One shudders to think what either Biden or Trump would have had to say. 

In fact, both candidates seemed most enthusiastic at the fag end of the debate when they bickered like elementary school kids over who had a better golf handicap. The world needs divine intervention. Amen!

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