When I interviewed Joe Biden on CNN recently, says Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post, I asked why he was seeking another term as president, rather than letting a younger generation of Democrats take over. He responded by speaking “solely about foreign policy”, saying he wanted to continue tackling the challenge to the world order from autocracies like China, Russia and Iran. The stakes are certainly high: for the first time since World War II, the “basic issue” of America’s leading role in geopolitics is becoming a partisan one. Polls show that support for Ukraine and Nato is far higher among Democrat voters than Republicans; 60% of Democrats think the US should be “active in world affairs” compared to just 29% of Republicans. Many of the American right’s most powerful figures, among them Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Tucker Carlson, are noted isolationists.
In a way, the Republican Party is “returning to its roots”. It bitterly opposed America’s entry into World War II until Pearl Harbor. And even after the war, Dwight Eisenhower offered not to run against Robert Taft, “the leading Republican of his day”, for the 1952 GOP presidential nomination – as long as Taft endorsed Nato. Taft refused, so Eisenhower ran, and went on to be president, to preserve US engagement with the world. Alas, “there is no Eisenhower to redirect the Republican Party today”, and the biggest risk to the international order may lie not in Ukraine or the Taiwan Strait, “but rather on the campaign trail in the United States”.
🇺🇸 Rarely has a US presidential election contained such “divergent possible outcomes for the state of the world”, says Edward Luce in the FT. If Biden is re-elected, the world can expect some continuity in US foreign policy until 2028. If Trump, the likely Republican nominee, returns to power in 2025, it could “destroy Western unity”.