If Trump wins, realism in international relations will certainly triumph (at least for a time being) over liberalism in international relations.
Trump’s realism vs Biden’s globalism
Let us consider how US elections and its result will affect the field of international politics?
First of all, let us examine the main frames of international politics vision by Trump and by Biden.
Trump stands against globalization and for the return to the politics of US nationalism. That means he is going to weaken international structures and reinforce the national defense. As result it can lead to the establishing of the factual multipolarity with the assured (as Trump himself presumes) American leadership. In his first term, Trump was hesitating between this new (in the reality very old) American nationalism and certain isolationism and neoconservative imperialism illustrated by John Bolton’s appointment and behavior. When Bolton was dismissed, he has betrayed Trump. So the interplay with neoconservatives has ended in mutual disappointment. Neoconservatives’ leader Bill Kristol has taken clearly anti-trumpist stand so we could presume that during the second term Trump will be less affected by neo-conservative imperialism and more nationalist and anti-globalist than during the first term.
That would lead to the hardening of multipolar world structure becoming more and more powerful in spite of possible US interventions in regional conflicts. Generally speaking, if Trump denies universalist “liberal-democratic” mission of US, departing from Wilsonian world politics that lasted almost 100 years and was clearly predominant above all during the last 300 years, his international politics will help to other poles to shape themselves more clearly and definitively. We have no reasons to be sure it will happen peacefully and mildly, but we can presume that the possible conflicts will be still limited. That is the logical conclusion from the abandon of universalist messianic planet scale liberalism that is the ideological frame of globalists.
So if Trump wins, realism in international relations will certainly triumph (at least for a time being) over liberalism in international relations. That means that we are going to enter in the age of the revival of sovereignties and the return of Nations. With accompanying phenomenon of international chaos and weakening of the supranational structures and institutions.
Joe Biden is quite opposite to Trump in this main line of international politics. He is classical liberal in international relations, convinced liberal and globalist. So if elected president of US, he will try to totally dismantle Trump’s politics and to return to the Clinton-Bush-Obama strategy, i.e to promoting universalist agenda – imposing human rights, liberalism, LGBT+ and so on. Biden will make efforts to reestablish the globalist frame – reinforcing NATO and US- European partnership, resort to “humanitarian interventions” and so on. We can easily imagine Biden’s foreign policy if we put in brackets 4 years of Trump’s nationalism and resume Obama’s course.
For sure Biden will destroy all signs and symbols of Trump’s epoch. The Wall with Mexico will be destroyed and all Trump’s nominees will be fired and may be prosecuted. In the eyes of democrats and globalists Trump is a kind of ideological criminal, “fascist” and his nationalism is totally unacceptable.
The liberal ideology is becoming today more and more exclusive and totalitarian, so this time there isn’t a slightest trace of the consensus between Republicans and Democrats in US. We see instead two ideological camps with divergent understanding of most essential values and goals. Trump’s age has restored in Republican party paleo-conservative “isolationist” core, earlier marginalized by globalist liberals from neocon camp. So this time we witness the real split inside of American political elites: Trump embodies nationalism, realism and consequently multipolarity, Biden – internationalism, liberalism, globalism and Western centered unipolarity disguised as pretended “concern for the good, democracy, progress and peace for all humanity” but in fact advocating the continuation of Western capitalist hegemony.
If Trump can presumably start local war despite the fact that he was trying and partly succeeded during his first term to avoid that at any price, Biden is likely to provoke global – World – war. The globalism of Democrats is a kind of totalitarian ideology and they would easily ignite nuclear Apocalypse if they felt their dominance and hegemony is really challenged and endangered.
So Trump means multipolarity. Biden means agonizing effort to save unipolarity, continuing thus unipolar (globalist) moment established after the fall of Soviet Union in 1991 replacing ended bipolarism.
This time, American elections are the testimony of the real fight between two radically opposite world visions. And that makes them so important. From their outcome depends the world order.
US and the Others: to fight or to destroy
Albeit Trump is more inclined towards multipolarity and Biden - towards unipolarity, both will be obliged to fight desperately to save American leadership – first in nationalist, second in globalist form. So the growth of alternative poles will be regarded with certain hostility from Washington. But in the cases of Trump and Biden, this hostility will be differently organized and structured.
Trump, loyal to realist tradition, will consider the rise of alternative centers of power as competition and challenge among sovereign States. For sure, he will react accordingly to any effort to infringe upon American strategical interests but that will be presented in the shape of legitimate defense of Great Nation.
On the contrary, Biden will proceed with the same concern in the ideological field: self-affirmation of the emerging multipolarity areas will be described as the challenge to “humanity”, “progress”, “human rights” and “universal peace”. So there will be the demonization and dehumanization in global media. Diplomacy and politics of all States and powers challenging liberal capitalist hegemony is equivalent in the eyes of globalists with “universal evil”.
We could find in that reading and discourse the convergence -- similar meaning with different outer shapes could emphasize the serious divergence, because in the long perspective that means two world orders – realist and liberal. Trump’s line will somehow accept multipolarity as established fact trying to secure the US leading role in multipolar world order, while Biden’s globalism will try to prevent at any price the coming of the multipolar age because that destroys the linear progress of liberal democracy that is now almost “religious” dogma of Democrats and globalists.
That brings new difference in the relation of Trump and Biden toward alternative poles of multipolarity. For Trump they are competitors and relative enemies (that can turn in certain circumstances into neutral powers or even into allies and “friends”). For Biden they are absolute enemies – the “enemies of open society” (C.Popper) that should be imperatively destroyed because otherwise they are going to destroy globalism and liberal hegemony relativizing it in space and time. Trump can accept the Other. Biden - in no way. That is the main difference.
Trump and anti-Chinese politics
When we apply these general considerations to the real politics, we immediately remark the salient difference in Trump and Biden’s attitudes to these same poles of rising multipolarity. Beyond doubt, in actual world only two world powers can pretend to play the role of alternative poles – China and Russia. China is more an economic giant with huge amount of political sovereignty granted by skillful politic and deep ideology of ruling Communist Party of China. Russia is more military power with huge amount of natural resources and possessing strategic territories. Both countries are ruled by convinced partisans of multipolar world order getting closer to each other. Xi Jinping’s China and Putin’s Russia have both clear conscious of being particular and original civilizations and not just a part of global Western-centered liberal capitalist world.
Thus the main challenge for Trump and Biden in foreign policy will be redefinition of attitude to China and Russia.
Here we see already the main difference between candidates. Trump in his realism and nationalism clearly chooses Russia as neutral player and China as main competitor and “enemy”. But by “enemy” in Trump’s case we should understand “relative enemy”. It is first of all economic rival of US that is blamed by Trump and trumpists for “invading and subverting the American national economy”. So Trump identifies China with “globalism” and “internationalism” and call the Americans to resist “the yellow peril”, first of all in economic field. Russia is in his view a secondary question, first of all because of the relatively small amount of Russian economic sector. In conservative Putin’s politics Trumps sees something rather sympathetic – Russian version of nationalism. But on the other hand Chinese communism provokes in him hostile reaction and is perceived as concrete threat to American capitalist system. That becomes keenly perceived when China is expanding its commerce outside of its national borders and above all when it reaches American soil.
So if Trump wins he will continue to compete with China on the basis of national interests in the main frame of realism in international relations.
That doesn’t mean at all that US with Trump will be kind with Russia and turn Moscow in strategical partner. It is impossible by geopolitical reason. All claims of Russian influence on Trump are fake news used by his American rivals. But Russia will not be the main enemy.
Biden and anti-Russian politics
Among the main multipolar powers – Russia and China – Biden chooses expectedly the Russia as main enemy and China as neutral or secondary concern. It is reaction on Trump and the sign that globalists are bothered more by military power of alternative poles than by economy. Russia is a great geopolitical power with nuclear weapon and conservative politics. That is the main obstacle to establishment of liberal world order. So in case of Biden’s victory, Russia will be the main object of pressure, attacks and possible conflicts. Here the main principles of geopolitics - Sea Power against Land Power - enter in game. The global hegemony of liberal West is secured by the weakness of Land Power, i.e of Russia as Eurasia. So in the eyes of Biden China can be considered as an organic part of international liberal system and international expansion of Chinese economy doesn’t represent the main threat for globalism. But authoritarian Russia does. China for sure remains a serious problem for globalists. We can see that in the case of symbolic figure of globalist camp George Soros who supported protests in Hong Kong and advocates open anti-Chinese politics among globalists. He tried to fuel colored revolution inside of continental China well playing on liberal wing of left ideology and promoting far left version of liberalism.
But the main aggression of Biden will be concentrated on Eurasian Heartland, i.e on Russia. China – as Rimland – will be of secondary importance.
Nevertheless it would be a mistake to consider Biden as pro-Chinese candidate. The same is correct with Trump: he is in no way pro-Russian. Both are first of all pro-American. But for Trump US is national country, Great Power, for Biden US is avant-garde of globalism, the fortress of liberal world hegemony, of global Empire that has as its main mission to liquidate the national States and install Global Government led by international capitalist elites and monopolies sweepingly including Western and non-Western segments.
In both cases, regardless of the result of the American elections, the next President of US (if there will be no civil war that is quite possible in present circumstances), Washington will oppose the rise of multipolarity. The main difference consists in the fact that Trump will concentrate on the (mainly economic, but not only) containment of China and Biden will promote radically anti-Russian politics. In the case of Biden’s victory the chances for new World War are much higher, because a nuclear power whose sovereignty is built on the military capacity is designated as his main enemy from the very beginning. Biden will act in the frame of classical geopolitics trying to attack Heartland (Russia) and somehow seduce or neutralize at least Rimland (China).
But both of them will oppose the rise of new poles – although in different way. Trump - somehow accepting in general features multipolarity, Biden - trying to oppose it at any price.
US relations with Iran and Turkey
Finally, we can add some other aspects to this analysis concerning the attitude of future American President to other regional powers. Trump with his particular views on Judeo-Christianity has very strong anti-Iranian and anti-Turkish sentiments. These two Islamic countries together with the third – Pakistan -- affirm themselves more and more as independent poles filling the gap of retracting influence of Wahabiites and Salaphites radical Islam sponsored by Gulf States. This fundamentalist purely Arabic Islam was designed as anti-Soviet weapon in Cold war period and was largely used by the West. It played the main role in the previous period coming out of control after 9/11 attack. But with Russian intervention in Syria and clear failure to establish long-lasting political structure in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya, its energy was exhausted and this method became too discredited. So new players – such as Iran and Turkey - began to set the rules in the Middle East – traditionally the zone of high concern for American policy.
Trump regards them once more as competitors and - in his pro-Israeli stand - as a threat for Israel as American ally. So once Trump is elected, the level of tensions with these two lesser poles of emerging multipolarity can grow. But once more Trump is constructing his foreign policy on pragmatism and realism.
Compete doesn’t mean to fight.
So the US relations with Iran and Turkey will balance on the edge of conflict, but as it was the case with the first Trump’s presidency term, such balance can last some time without basculating into the full scale war.
Biden, on his hand, can make some steps to ameliorate the US relations towards Teheran and Ankara trying to rear them off the other poles of multipolarity – Russia and China, but it hardly can be really successful considering the non-liberal nature of both regimes being much closer to multipolar – Eurasian – world order than to globalism. So here the difference between Trump and Biden will be no such deep.
Multipolarity as common strategy
So, what humanity should expect from the result of American elections? There is only one solution – we should stay strong defending multipolar world order in spite of its result. Neither Trump, nor Biden can be real solution. Both represent the challenge, the danger and the threat. But we can a priori evaluate their differences and prepare to consequences of the outcome of the American presidential vote.
Those who hope Trump will facilitate the coming of multipolarity are partly right, but at the same time its hardly possibly he is going to make such gift benevolently. He is rather more prepared to accept multipolarity as fact and deal with it pragmatically trying to secure the American interests in these new – post-globalist – conditions. It is quite possible that he will do that in a very severe way dealing with competitors as hard as with full scale enemies – market is a battlefield. So in order to deal with Trump properly, the Other – already existing and would-be poles of multipolar world order – should reinforce their sovereignty, independence and power.
With Biden the situation is much more complicated. Individually he is an aged person that is almost incapable to speak coherently not to say about independent reasoning and making strong decisions. But he will not rule the US. His function is limited to the representative role. Behind him stands the whole globalist elite of the West, the Grand Capital, all strategic and intellectual centers of decision-makers forming Global Government – Wall Street, Deep State, Soros structures and American military power. So his individual insignificance is somehow deceptive. He can look stupid and he can be so, but that doesn’t change anything. He is as powerful and dangerous as globalism itself.
So his relative benevolence in the regard to China or (at lesser scale) to Iran should be critically evaluated – Biden is still more irreconcilable with multipolarity than Trump. Trump as realist is more sincere and somehow honest – including in his aggressivity and selfishness. Biden only looks milder but there is the real threat.
So the Other comparing to the agonizing unipolarity is multipolar world order. That should unite all of us – Russians, and Chinese, Turks and Iranians, Africans and Latin Americans.
And all poles should understand that the success in irreversible affirmation of such multipolarity demands strong alliance between all of them.
Russian shouldn’t be seduced by Trump’s attitude to Russia, as well as the Chinese by Biden’s stand. The unipolarity is incompatible with multipolarity – that is either/ or relation, zero sum game. The Win-Win strategy is possible only for those who accept the common paradigm. In our case it is the multipolar paradigm. We will win only if we are capable to insist on it and make it the matter of fact, the irreversible and unquestionable reality that will be accepted as such by all – including by the USA. Regardless of who will be the next American President.