While many governments are likely to celebrate the end of the less conventional and more chaotic US presidency of modern times, others will have reason to be homesick. For the leaders of Turkey, North Korea and Israel, the record has been mostly positive. Trump’s departure would confront them with immediate challenges.
What the most authoritarian winners of Trump’s four years in power have in common is the fear that their departure will mean the return of a more conventional US foreign policy.
This could lead the US government to design alliances and promote the universality of values such as democracy and human rights, or the fight against climate change. “This president embraces all the evildoers in the world,” said Democrat Joe Biden at a recent event, when he sought to highlight the political divide.
No relationship with the U.S. has changed more under Trump’s leadership than with North Korea. What started with mutual threats and insults has turned into an exchange of praise at times bizarre. Kim and Trump met three times and exchanged more than two dozen letters, which showed their “mysteriously wonderful” chemistry.
Still, the radically different approach to the United States did not guarantee the denuclearization of North Korea either.
Kim revealed a huge intercontinental ballistic missile on October 10, which appears capable of launching several nuclear warheads.
Biden has already said he will not meet the North Korean leader without preconditions, making any rapid suspension of sanctions that put North Korea’s economy in its worst recession in two decades less likely.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The President of Turkey trusts Trump very much for his political protection. The US president was virtually alone between Turkey and the imposition of Congressional sanctions because of Erdogan’s decision to buy Russia’s S-400 air defense missile system, despite being a NATO ally.
With sanctions ready to be applied and Biden having previously advocated that the U.S. support Turkish opposition parties, Erdogan may have a lot to lose from Trump’s departure.
Trump has been more aggressive towards China than any U.S. president in recent history, having imposed tariffs on Chinese products and restricted the country’s access to essential technologies. But Chinese officials have said that, overall, the leadership prefers Trump to stay.
The Beijing government’s concern about Biden is that it will try to create a more coordinated international front to deal with China, while maintaining pressure on trade and technology. Still, China can benefit from a less emotional relationship with the Washington government if Trump loses, according to Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University. “Do people really want to see China and the United States enter a cold war?”
President Jair Bolsonaro fears he will lose his privileged relationship with the White House if Trump is not re-elected. Although the Brazilian government has publicly stated that ties with the U.S. will continue to prosper regardless of the outcome of the November elections, a senior official on the presidential team admitted an increasing concern about the polls that give Biden an ever greater advantage over Trump.
This Tuesday, Bolsonaro publicly expressed his support for Trump’s re-election. “I hope, if it is God’s will, to appear for the inauguration of the president soon re-elected in the United States,” said the president upon receiving in Brasilia National Security Adviser of the White House, Roberto O’Brien. Brazil and the US signed agreements this week to facilitate bilateral trade.
The ties between Trump and Bolsonaro have intensified since the Brazilian took the presidential seat in 2019. Both were elected appealing to the conservative sentiment of the electorate and built a close relationship that yielded some benefits to Brazil.
Trump put an end to a ban on meat imports from Brazil that has been in place since Operation Weak Meat in 2017. The US president also announced support for Brazil’s candidacy to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) . There was also an alignment of Brazil with the American foreign policy. The two countries signed cooperation agreements in defense, space exploration, and Brazil was designated as the preferred extra-NATO ally of the USA by Trump.
Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo said Brazil would have no problems with a Biden government, but Bolsonaro’s environmental policies would face strong opposition.
After the first debate between Trump and Biden in late September, Bolsonaro criticized the Democratic candidate for proposing a reforestation plan for the Amazon and suggesting that Brazil could face economic consequences if it does not reverse the process.
Trump has repeatedly broken U.S. precedents to boost the Israeli leader’s nationalist agenda by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in the disputed Golan Heights and transferring the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Plans to annex parts of the West Bank have been suspended, but could be resumed in a second Trump term.
The real reward came in September, when Trump brokered deals to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, but there was a price to pay; bipartisan support for Israel in Congress has declined.
Many Israelis fear the country will face further scrutiny with a Biden government, while security officials are concerned about the US’s return to the nuclear deal with Iran.