Global Opinion Plunges: 2024 Outcome Unlikely to Salvage U.S. Reputation 

fizkes /
fizkes /

Allies have increasingly worried about the United States’ commitment and reliability throughout the Biden presidency. It’s a trend that is unlikely to change regardless of the outcome of the 2024 election, with some expressing concern over Biden’s weakness if reelected and others fearing that former President Donald Trump will continue his first-term America-first agenda to the detriment of other countries worldwide if he regains the White House. 

Trump has never been quiet about NATO, frequently expressing his frustration over the billions the U.S. spends in the alliance while other countries refuse to pay their share. Funding for NATO primarily comes from its member countries, with the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom being the most significant contributors in total dollars. However, NATO also sets a target for each member to allocate at least 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) toward defense. As of the latest estimates, only eight countries meet or exceed this target in 2024. The remaining 22 countries spend less than 2% of their GDP on defense. 

Trump, being Trump, took his frustration to the next level at a rally, saying that he had cautioned NATO allies that he would “support Russia’s actions” against countries failing to meet their financial commitments to the alliance. Additionally, Trump advocated for the cessation of all foreign aid contributions by the U.S., proposing loans as an alternative in the future. 

President Biden isn’t faring much better. As U.S. enemies make their moves unchallenged by a president considered weak on global policy, Biden has emphasized backing Ukraine as the nation’s most significant priority and moral obligation. Despite his proclamation post-election in 2020 that “America is back” on the global stage, America is anywhere but “back” under his leadership unless the intended stage was set for a tragedy or a comedy. 

Whatever America’s allies think, their leaders know they must collaborate with the winner of the 2024 election, regardless of who it is. Behind the scenes, governments are engaged in the discreet process of establishing connections with the political teams of the contenders. 

According to Thomas Gift, director of the Centre on U.S. Politics at University College London, the direction of global dynamics will continue regardless of who wins in 2024. He predicts a multipolar world where the United States no longer maintains its position as the unequivocal global superpower. 

A world where the United States is no longer “in charge” is frightening, as highlighted by the fast-moving backroom deals being made worldwide. Some discussions have emerged about NATO members’ need to increase military expenditure and prepare for an alliance without the United States. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been actively encouraging his counterparts to provide more support to Ukraine, acknowledging Germany’s significant contribution to military aid but highlighting its inability to fill the void if the U.S. withdraws support.  

Meanwhile, Russia is strengthening its relations with China, Iran, and North Korea while attempting to diminish Ukraine’s international backing. French President Macron has emphasized that American attention seems directed elsewhere, identifying the U.S.’s priorities as focused primarily on domestic affairs and China. In response, Macron advocates for a more self-reliant Europe capable of defending itself. 

The potential rematch isn’t appealing for China, either. Zhao Minghao, a professor of international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai, said that China considers the two candidates “two bowls of poison.”  

In January, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that relations between Russia and the United States have deteriorated since the George W. Bush administration and expressed skepticism about any significant difference between a Trump and a Biden presidency. 

But some nations would prefer a Trump presidency over a continued Biden reign. Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s far-right national security minister, recently criticized Biden, claiming that the U.S. isn’t fully backing Israel and that under Trump’s leadership, American actions would have been markedly different. 

And even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently suggested that “a Trump presidency could be just what the world needs.”  

As the possibility of a Joe Biden-Donald Trump rematch looms, America’s allies are preparing for uncertainty. With a divided electorate and Congressional gridlock, the next president faces numerous domestic challenges even before tackling global flashpoints like Ukraine and the Middle East. 

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the United States, insisting that America’s “first priority is itself.” That isn’t true now, but if Trump regains the White House, his “America first” agenda will remove all doubt about the nation’s priorities. That’s not the insult Macron intended – it’s a promise.