'The world is watching': Why people across the globe are on edge waiting for Nov. 3

'The world is watching': Why people across the globe are on edge waiting for Nov. 3
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, joined by the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and his wife, Mrs. Akie Abe, greet families of people abducted by North Korea Monday, May 27, 2019, at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)
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Americans aren't the only ones who will be anxiously awaiting the results of the United States' 2020 presidential election this Tuesday, November 3. People all over the world, from Germany to Chile to Australia to Japan, will be checking the vote count in Florida and Pennsylvania to see whether President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden is ahead. And as journalist David Ignatius stresses in his Washington Post column, many countries realize that they also have a major stake in the election's outcome.

"Talking with foreign officials in recent weeks, I've been struck by the intensity of their interest in what happens on November 3," Ignatius writes. "They have studied up on the Electoral College, the quirks of mail-in voting, the prospect of post-election violence in the streets and disputes in the courts. To say the world is watching does not begin to describe the global focus on the United States."

What happens in the U.S. on Election Day, Ignatius notes, will affect countries around the world.

"Among America's traditional allies — Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Australia — there's a yearning for renewed collaboration and coordinated policy," Ignatius observes. "Foreign leaders miss U.S. leadership, despite our occasional past arrogance and mistakes. Diplomats tell me the prospect of a second Trump term is as puzzling and unsettling to them as it is to many Americans."

One foreign leader who is obviously hoping that Trump wins a second term is Russian President Vladimir Putin — not because he believes that a second Trump term would be beneficial for the U.S., but because he believes that chaos in the U.S. benefits Russia.

"Nobody made a bigger bet on Trump in 2016 than Russian President Vladimir Putin," Ignatius argues. "Trump, for whatever mysterious reasons, has let Putin run full throttle. He doesn't challenge Putin's election interference, his reported bounties on American troops in Afghanistan, or even what U.S. and foreign officials tell me is Russia's willingness to attack its enemies anywhere — even on U.S. soil, much as intelligence defector Sergei Skripal was poisoned in Britain in March 2018…. If Trump is on the way out, how does Putin consolidate the gains he's made during the Trump years?"

Another authoritarian who stands to benefit from Trump winning a second term, according to Ignatius, is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"When it comes to mutual back-scratching," Ignatius explains, "Trump's relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may top the list. Trump boasted that after the murder of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, 'I saved his ass' by maintaining congressional support for the kingdom, according to Bob Woodward's book, 'Rage.' Supporters of MBS, as the Saudi leader is known, have recently spun a fanciful theory that Democrats plotted a coup against him; perhaps they wanted to mobilize Saudis against pressure from a Biden Administration."

While authoritarians like Putin and MBC have had a very friendly relationship with Trump, countless officials in liberal democracies are hoping and praying for a Biden victory.

"As Election Day approaches, there's a reckoning ahead for countries that placed big bets, pro and con, on President Trump," Ignatius writes. "For foreign leaders who stroked Trump and prospered during his presidency, there's potential danger if he loses to former Vice President Joe Biden. For those who defied Trump, there's opportunity."

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