Oct. 26, 2020
It is not only Americans who have a lot at stake in this year’s presidential election. Countries around the world are watching the race and trying to determine what the outcome will mean for them.
In Europe in particular, Trump is extremely unpopular in most countries. In Britain, just 13 percent of respondents said they wanted the president to win the election, compared to 61 percent rooting for Biden, according to a YouGov poll published in October.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, China and North Korea could find that a Biden victory would mean closer scrutiny of their human rights records and military actions. In Iran, many are probably hoping for a Biden victory, a new nuclear deal and relief from the crippling sanctions that Trump introduced.
By Eric Baculinao, Dawn Liu and Adela Suliman
Under Trump, the world’s two largest economies have plunged into a costly trade war. The U.S. has targeted the Chinese tech companies Huawei and TikTok, condemned Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and criticized the treatment of minority Uighurs and Hong Kong demonstrators.
The president and his aides’ use of slurs like “Chinese Virus” and the “Kung Flu” have angered many in China.
Biden, meanwhile, has vowed to stand up to Beijing, called President Xi Jinping a “thug” and has also criticized the country’s treatment of the Uighurs.
Officially, China’s position is that “the U.S. election is an internal affair,” but a U.S. intelligence official has said China would prefer that an “unpredictable” Trump not be re-elected. Others, including Chinese political commentators, have said Trump’s disruptive style has been a golden opportunity for China’s rise and welcome four more years.
China’s state media has, at times, been vocal in its anti-Trump rhetoric, nicknaming him “Chuan Jianguo,” meaning “Trump builds China,” suggesting that his polices inadvertently benefit the country.
But as the election campaign enters its final stretch, Chinese newspapers have suggested that a Biden presidency may indeed benefit China.
“Tactically, the U.S. approach would be more predictable, and Biden is much smoother to deal with than Trump,” said an editorial in the state-owned Global Times newspaper.
Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Fudan University, said that China’s leaders may indeed prefer the consistency that Biden may offer.
“For the last four years the Chinese government still can’t predict him well,” he said, referring to Trump. “The government may think someone who is more predictable is better. Not because Biden is better, but because he says what he means.”
By Eric Baculinao and Dawn Liu reported from Beijing. Adela Suliman reported from London.
By Gautham Subramanyam
NEW DELHI — It was a welcome usually reserved for box-office or sports stars. Shouts, cheers and a crowd of 100,000 at the world’s largest cricket stadium greeted President Donald Trump on his first visit to India in February.
The trip was a coup for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who often uses his relationship with Trump to boost his own standing. The U.S. is viewed largely positively in India, the world’s second-most-populous nation, where 60 percent of those polled by Pew said they had a favorable view of the country. Fifty-six percent said they believed Trump “will do the right thing” when it comes to world affairs.
The U.S.-India relationship is centered around trade and defense. For its part, India is concerned with the U.S. stance toward Pakistan and China, with whom it has border disputes. In recent skirmishes on the India-China border, both the White House and Joe Biden’s campaign indicated support for India.
Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, has drawn intense interest in India, where her mother was born and where billboards line the road near her ancestral village.
In political circles, however, there have been few public comments about her place on the ticket.
“By declining to comment on her nomination, India has indicated that it wants to keep its neutrality and be in a position to do business with both” candidates, said Vivek Mishra, a fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi.
Despite the interest in the election, for the average Indian, it is less of an issue than their own local challenges.
“Will Trump or Biden reduce the price of tomatoes? That’s what I am concerned about,” said Ashok Mondal, a cook in New Delhi.
By Matt Bodner
MOSCOW — U.S. elections tend to generate high levels of interest in Russia, where politicians worry about confrontations with Washington and ordinary Russians fear additional sanctions that threaten the economy.
Even though President Donald Trump’s policies have not always aligned with Moscow’s interests, most Russians see him as friendly to Russia. In August, Trump told aides he'd like to hold an in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the election. And he has repeatedly publicly contradicted his own intelligence advisers — and former special counsel Robert Mueller — by expressing doubt about Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. political process.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, is viewed as having more hawkish attitudes toward Moscow.
“Under Trump, the U.S. is focused solely on itself,” said Vladimir Frolov, a political analyst in Moscow. “It means the U.S. has little bandwidth for Russia and what it does at home and abroad. And Putin has a way of influencing Trump in their private chats that would be unavailable under any other U.S. leader.”
With Biden, there is concern he would take a greater interest in Russia’s activities on the international stage. He is known as being sympathetic to Ukraine, and Putin himself most likely isn’t a fan, some experts say. When Biden visited Moscow in 2011, he suggested that Putin should not return to the presidency in 2012. And on the campaign trail, he accused Russia of “trying to delegitimize our electoral process.”
“It would be hard to deal with a Biden administration,” Frolov said. “Tactical agreements, like extending the New START treaty, are possible. But the relationship will remain adversarial and confrontational. Trump is a known unknown and a lesser evil. We wish him well on November 3rd.”
North and South Korea
By Grace Moon
The North’s leadership most likely prefers President Donald Trump to Joe Biden in the upcoming election, according to experts, despite stalled nuclear talks that Washington hoped would lead the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, to give up his nuclear arsenal.
Biden has labelled the secretive and reclusive Kim a “tyrant” and is expected to take a more traditional and cautious line than Trump when it comes to nuclear negotiations.
“Biden’s emphasis on human rights in North Korea is the equivalent of shooting an arrow straight toward Kim,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “Most North Koreans don’t have great expectations for Biden. But they’ll be monitoring his next moves.”
North Korea, a dictatorship that has pursued a nuclear weapons arsenal, has been severely affected by U.S. sanctions and in the past requested help from international organizations to alleviate food shortages.
North Korea stands at the heart of the U.S. relationship with South Korea, a modern, thriving democracy.
Nearly 70 years after the Korean War ended in an armistice, the U.S. military continues to have a large presence in South Korea. Trump has demanded that Seoul pay more for the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed there.
When it comes to the job performance of the current U.S. leadership, South Koreans seem to be almost evenly split, with 41 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving, according to a July Gallup poll.
However, when Trump became the first U.S. president to set foot in North Korea in 2019, there was an overwhelmingly positive reaction in the South.
A Pew survey in January showed that 78 percent of respondents approved of U.S. talks with the North. However, a Pew poll released in September showed that only 17 percent believe Trump would do the right thing regarding world affairs.
According to Chul Lee, who left his hometown, Pyongyang — the North’s capital — in 2014 for South Korea, North Korean defectors appreciated Trump’s willingness to work with Kim, but feel frustrated by the abrupt and inconclusive ending to the Hanoi summit in 2019.
“Whereas the Bush administration cited North Korea in the ‘axis of evil,’ Trump was quite unconventional,” said Lee, a senior research fellow at the government-funded Institute for National Security Strategy. “But sheer unpreparedness led to the shattering of the Hanoi summit and since then, many North Koreans have become skeptical.”
By Ahmed Mengli and Saphora Smith
KABUL, Afghanistan — When it comes to the U.S. election, the only winner most Afghans care about is whoever can bring peace to the country nearly 20 years after the U.S. invasion.
On paper it may appear as if President Donald Trump has accomplished more in this regard than his predecessors.
In February, his administration signed a landmark deal with the Taliban, which calls for peace talks between the militants and an Afghan delegation that includes Kabul government officials. And in September, both sides agreed to come to the table in a diplomatic breakthrough that raised the prospects for peace.
Still, Afghans who spoke to NBC News said they saw Democrat Joe Biden as a safer choice.
According to a recent Gallup poll, only 17 percent of Afghan respondents said they approved of the U.S. leadership’s job performance, while 72 percent disapproved.
Nevertheless, analysts told NBC News that when it came to U.S. policy toward Afghanistan, at this stage they did not see a drastic difference between Trump and Biden.
“There is very little chance that peace in Afghanistan becomes a priority for either of the future U.S. administrations,” said Orzala Nemat, director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit think tank.
“One thing that is clear is that troops will be withdrawn. What is not so clear is the future rule of engagement,” he added.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has confirmed that Trump has ordered the Pentagon to draw down the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to about 2,500 in early 2021.
Asadullah Nadim, a Kabul-based political and military analyst, said he did not think either candidate could bring peace to Afghanistan.
“Peace can be brought only by Afghans themselves,” he said.
Ahmed Mengli reported from Kabul. Saphora Smith reported from London.
By Amin Khodadadi, Ali Arouzi and Saphora Smith
TEHRAN — There cannot be many countries watching the election more closely than Iran.
“It directly impacts our livelihoods,” said Khosro Mahmoudy, an importer of livestock feed.
In 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that eased sanctions on the country in return for limits on its nuclear program. Trump then imposed a wave of crippling economic sanctions on the country of 83 million.
In contrast, if challenger Joe Biden is elected, “he would seek to build on the nuclear deal to make it longer and stronger if Iran returns to strict compliance,” according to Antony Blinken, a Biden foreign policy adviser.
This could also mean the removal of U.S. sanctions and an end to Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign that is partly responsible for the collapse of Iran's currency, the acceleration of inflation and the erosion of wages. This would be welcome news for many hard-up Iranians, for whom everything has become more expensive, from the price of fruit to the cost of a home.
However, Iranians also blame their leadership for corruption and economic mismanagement that they say has contributed to widespread economic hardship, and few whom NBC News has spoken to expected prices to fall dramatically, even if Biden wins.
Moreover, Biden’s “stronger” deal could expand the issues it covers beyond the nuclear issue, such as Israeli-Iranian tensions or domestic human rights violations, said Alex Vatanka, an Iranian-American and director of the Iran program at the Middle East Institute, a think tank in Washington.
Nevertheless, Biden would be “much easier” for the Iranian leadership to work with, according to Vatanka.
“I have no doubt they want a Biden presidency,” he said.
Amin Khodadadi and Ali Arouzi reported from Tehran. Saphora Smith reported from London.
By Paul Goldman and Saphora Smith
TEL AVIV — If the U.S. election were held in Israel, President Donald Trump would most likely win in a landslide.
In a Pew Research Center survey last year, 71 percent of Israelis expressed confidence in Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs, a higher rate than in any of the other 31 countries surveyed except the Philippines.
In Israel, Trump will be remembered as the U.S. president who recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, breaking with decades of American precedent.
His administration will also be remembered for pulling out of a nuclear deal with Israel’s archenemy, Iran; recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights; brokering agreements to normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain; and presenting a plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The Trump administration has positioned itself on a whole range of major issues where the vast majority of Israelis want to be,” said Eran Lerman, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. “All of this would be put in question if Trump loses the election.”
The U.S. has long tried to broker a peace between Israel and the Palestinians. However, U.S.-Palestinian relations have soured under Trump after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, cut hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid to the Palestinians, shut their diplomatic offices in Washington and presented a peace plan that Palestinians said largely favored Israel.
Palestinian leaders have accused the Trump administration of pro-Israel bias and severed ties with the president.
According to one recent survey, only 16 percent of respondents in Israel said they would prefer a Joe Biden presidency.
Biden has said his commitment to Israel is “unshakable.” However, some are concerned about the pressure he may come under from members of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, according to Lerman, some of whom are outspoken critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and its treatment of Palestinians.
“The perception here is that the Democratic Party is less beneficial to Israel than Trump,” said Rachel Alkalay, 66, a Tel Aviv lawyer who described herself as a centrist.
Israelis also believe that Biden, if elected, would revive the nuclear deal with Tehran, she said. Israel is concerned that a nuclear-armed Iran would be an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Paul Goldman reported from Tel Aviv. Saphora Smith reported from London.
By Mo Abbas
Few countries have more at stake in November’s election than Saudi Arabia, the U.S.’s closest Arab ally, a major customer of American weapons and a bulwark against Iranian ambitions in the Middle East.
Trump was warmly welcomed when he traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2017 on the first foreign trip of his presidency.
He has since proven to be a boon for Riyadh: He ditched a nuclear deal with the kingdom’s main rival, Iran; sent troops to the country after accusing Iran of attacking its oil facilities; and dismissed U.S. intelligence accusing Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman of ordering the killing of a prominent critic, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump’s White House has also helped the oil-rich nation proceed with a disastrous war in Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries where millions of children face hunger and malnutrition.
Joe Biden said he will take a different approach if elected.
“I would … end subsidies that we have, end the sale of material to the Saudis where they're going in and murdering children,” he said at a debate in November. “We were going to in fact make them pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.”
A top campaign adviser has also said that, as president, Biden would likely revive a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear development.
The Washington-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, a lobbying group, was sanguine about a potential Biden presidency.
“While decisive and uncompromising, the Saudi leadership is also practical, realistic and ready to adjust to any global change, including America’s political landscape,” the group’s founder, Salman al-Ansari, told NBC News.
By Mo Abbas
The U.S. election has captured Libyans’ attention and raised hopes that a new administration could help bring some order to a country racked by civil war since the overthrow of the dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
According to a Gallup poll taken in July, just 20 percent of Libyans approved of the job performance of the leadership of the U.S., while 62 percent disapproved.
America has in recent years been hands off in its involvement with the country, with then-President Barack Obama largely disengaging after Islamist militants killed the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi in 2012.
Other countries rushed to fill the void, and now Libya has become a venue for proxy battles between forces backed by countries including Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
The melee has prompted the United States under President Donald Trump to intermediate, but the approach has appeared muddled.
“Conflicting messages and the lack of a coherent strategy to deal with Libya has been really problematic, and it has even worsened what was already there,” said Mohamed Eljarh, a Libya-based researcher and political analyst.
One example is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s demand in April 2019 that anti-government forces pull back from an attack on Tripoli, only for Trump to praise the group’s leader, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, days later for “fighting terrorism.”
“I think there’s an expectation that a Biden administration would at least be a little bit more structured in the way that it would respond to the crisis in Libya,” Eljarh said.
Hasan Alzubi, a doctor in Misrata, believes that a lack of U.S. leadership has made the turmoil in his country worse.
“The only country which can put an end to the chaos in Libya is the U.S.,” Alzubi, 28, said from Misrata. “For that reason, the future of Libya wouldn’t be good if Trump stays in office.”
By Segilola Arisekola
The one question many in Nigeria have ahead of the U.S. election is who will be most likely to rescind the U.S. restrictions on immigration from Africa’s most populous nation.
In January, President Donald Trump expanded his administration’s travel ban to include Nigeria, along with five other countries. Of those countries, five have a large Muslim population, like Nigeria, which is 53 percent Muslim.
Despite the immigration ban, a majority of Nigerians have a positive view of the U.S.’s leadership, according to a Gallup poll taken in July. A Pew survey in January showed that 58 percent of those polled had confidence in Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs.
“At least we know where we stand with Trump,” said David Hundeyin, a political commentator in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city.
Nigeria is the top birthplace of African immigrants in the U.S., according to Pew, and many Nigerians with family members in the U.S. would like to emigrate there.
“Nigerians who would love to see the policy change would rather see Donald Trump lose the elections and have the Democrats come into power,” said Ufuoma Egbamuno, a journalist and radio host in Lagos.
Biden, nevertheless, has yet to capture much interest in Africa’s most populous country.
“Biden does not have an engaged following and doesn’t have the ability to get people fired up like Trump does in Nigeria,” said Hundeyin. “Apart from revoking the travel ban, Nigerians don’t know what else Joe Biden can do for them.”
By Mo Abbas
America is heavily involved in Somalia, so it’s no surprise that many in the country are keeping a close eye on the election.
“Most Somalis consider the U.S as an ally and a country that hosted many Somali refugees and a large and vibrant Somali diaspora community,” said Abdimalik Abdullahi, a Mogadishu-based researcher and Somali affairs analyst.
Many Americans remember Somalia as the site of a 1993 mission against a warlord that ended in the shooting down of two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters and the deaths of 18 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of Somalis.
These days, the U.S. is a key aid donor to the country and has stepped up attacks in the last year against the al-Shabab extremist group and ISIS fighters there.
Although Somalia is still frequently the scene of militant attacks, the U.S. recognized its “progress” and in October 2019 reopened the American Embassy in the capital, Mogadishu, after it had been closed for 28 years.
However, during Donald Trump’s presidency Somalis have been blocked from traveling to the U.S. Joe Biden has pledged to end the travel ban.
Trump has not said much about Somalia, and the little he has said wasn’t flattering.
One of his most notable comments came in June when he attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who is Somali American, saying that “she would like to make the government of our country just like the country from where she came — Somalia. No government, no safety, no police, no nothing, just anarchy.”
The comments provoked a sense of unease among many Somalis, according to Abdullahi, an unease that a Biden victory in November would help alleviate.
“A Biden presidency and Democrats winning would easily overturn the Muslim ban, hence people of Somali origin and Somali nationals would face less struggle and hardships in traveling to the U.S.,” he said.
By Linda Givetash and Rachel Elbaum
There hasn’t been much U.S. involvement in South Africa over the last four years and some are hoping that a Joe Biden victory will help change that.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa “doesn’t have an America he can lean on,” said John Stremlau, an honorary professor of international relations at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
The report that Trump made disparaging remarks about Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning former leader, also dismayed many.
South Africans are fairly split on their views of the U.S. leadership, with 34 percent approving and 39 percent disapproving of its performance, according to a Gallup poll from July.
Trump has not visited any African nations while in office, and he has seldom waded into the politics of South Africa, despite it being the U.S.’s largest trading partner on the continent.
However, the few comments the president has made have resonated.
In a 2018 tweet, Trump called for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate “the large-scale killings” of white farmers — a contentious issue exaggerated by white supremacist groups in the country.
“There was a very visceral reaction from South Africans about Trump lying,” said Pontsho Pilane, a journalism instructor at the University of the Witwatersrand.
China, currently South Africa’s largest trading partner and a growing U.S. rival, has been spreading its influence in Africa, and more American engagement in South Africa could help counter that, said Roelof Botha, a former policy adviser for the National Treasury and an economics instructor at the Gordon Institute of Business Science.
“Donald Trump avoids dealing with policy problems. That’s bad news for South Africa,” said Strenlau.
By Alexander Smith
President Donald Trump is more unpopular in Germany than almost anywhere else, so it’s no surprise that many Germans would prefer Joe Biden to win in November.
Trump blamed Merkel for “ruining Germany,” accused her of being a "captive" of the Kremlin because of a new gas pipeline to Russia, and tweeted in 2018 that "the people of Germany are turning against" her over her immigration policies.
Only 26 percent of those polled by Pew in research released in September have a positive view of America, and just 10 percent have confidence in Trump when it comes to his handling of world affairs.
So a Biden win would most likely be an improvement in U.S.-Germany ties.
That's not to say Biden would provide an instant elixir, however. Experts point out that were he to win, Biden would likely find Germany, as with Europe and indeed much of the world, dramatically reshaped from when he was vice president under President Barack Obama.
“The tonality would change completely. The Biden team is deeply aware of just how damaged the relationship is. And I think they also have a much more sophisticated understanding of the value to America of Europe,” said Constanze Stelzenmüller, a senior fellow and German expert at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
"But a Biden administration would have so much repair work to do that I would expect their bandwidth for foreign policy to be quite narrow," she added.
European leaders like Merkel have made it clear they are no longer willing to rely on Washington the way they used to. Some analysts believe this comes from a wariness not to be burnt twice: What happens when the next Trump-style disruptive president comes along?
Experts and officials in both countries say more self-reliance is not a bad thing. While they balk at Trump's style, even critics say Europe, and especially Germany, has been too dependent on the U.S.
By Luke Denne
Polish President Andrzej Duda has cultivated a close relationship with President Donald Trump. Still, the country’s friendship with the U.S. is based on more than the camaraderie between the two populist leaders, and a Joe Biden win in November would not fundamentally change that, experts say.
Poland is Europe’s most pro-American country, according to a Pew poll released in January that showed almost 8 in 10 respondents view the U.S. favorably.
“There's no real anti-American party in Poland,” said Daniel Fried, the U.S. ambassador to Poland from 1997 to 2000. This, he said, is due to a history of U.S. support that started with American backing for Polish independence in 1918, right up to its support for Poland’s accession to NATO.
NATO membership is vital due to the threat of Russian aggression, Fried said, meaning Trump’s occasional swipes against the alliance have made some in Warsaw privately uneasy. As such, a Biden victory would also be well received by many because of his “pro-NATO, pro-alliance profile,” he said.
It could, however, result in some “pressure” being applied on Duda over LGBTQ rights, which the Polish president doesn’t support, said Pawel Zerka, a policy fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank with offices in several European cities. Trump waded into the at times bitter Polish election this summer and offered Duda his support in a White House visit just days before the first round of voting in June.
“I believe that such an issue will be raised more often and more strongly by a Biden administration,” Zerka added, referring to LGBTQ rights.
Duda’s detractors are worried that a Trump victory would further encourage their government’s conservative agenda.
“I think if Trump wins it won’t be good for Poland because this government will get support from him,” said Karolina Taber, 26, an insurance agent in Warsaw. “Their conservative view on human rights, and approach to the European Union is the same – they are skeptical.”
By Kristina Jovanovski
“I’m a big fan.”
These were the words President Donald Trump used after he met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House in November 2019. The comment highlighted the two leaders’ friendly relationship and stands in stark contrast to the suspicion with which Ankara views Joe Biden.
The former vice president said earlier this year in an interview with The New York Times that he was “very concerned” about Erdogan’s approach to the Kurds in Turkey, military cooperation with Russia, and access to U.S. airfields in the country, a NATO ally.
The comments weren’t appreciated in Turkey, where Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said they “reflect games and an interventionist approach.”
According to a May survey by the polling company Turkey Report, respondents rated the U.S. 1.22 out of 5 for its trustworthiness, while a Gallup poll found that 73 percent disapproved of the U.S. leadership in 2019.
Part of this lack of trust has also been attributed to Washington’s refusal to extradite the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is widely believed in Turkey to have masterminded an attempted coup in 2016.
Mistrust of the U.S. also strengthened in 2018 when U.S. tariffs hit Turkey’s currency and economy, and Washington allied with Kurdish fighters in neighboring Syria whom Turks view as terrorists plotting against their country.
“That’s been a handicap of the Trump administration, the unpredictability of it and the fact that it’s too personalized. Those liabilities could disappear, hopefully, with a Democratic administration,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who now heads EDAM, a think tank in Istanbul.
Ebrar Basyigit, a 20-year-old literature student at Istanbul’s Bogazici University, said she was hoping Biden would win because she felt it would be a boost for minority rights and the opposition.
“He says, ‘I will end the dark era of America.’ And I think Turkey is in the same dark era and it is longer than America’s dark era and it will end with the opposition party’s nominee,” said Basyigit.
By Alexander Smith
LONDON — Keith Martin says there is one thing he fears more than the bladder cancer that almost killed him: the re-election of President Donald Trump.
Martin, a London-based photographer, was among the thousands of people who protested Trump's U.K. visits in 2018 and 2019.
During both events, he carried a home-made placard reading “Trump is worse than my cancer.”
"My cancer might kill me, but Trump has harmed millions of people," Martin, 57, now recovered, said last month.
It's no secret Trump is reviled across Western Europe, with many people aghast at his style and policies that they say often veer into racism and sexism. In the U.K., a mere 19 percent say that they have confidence in Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs, according to a Pew poll released in September.
But for the British government, the U.S. presidential election presents a dilemma.
Unlike European leaders who have lambasted Trump, the U.K.’s leaders have been keen to please him. Desperate to strike a post-Brexit U.S. trade deal, they have in Trump a Brexit supporter who calls Prime Minister Boris Johnson “Britain Trump.”
Wooing Trump hasn't been easy, however. It's unclear what's been achieved by weathering the president's whims and insults, as a trade deal remains elusive.
However, a Joe Biden win in November would present other challenges: He's pro-E.U., anti-Brexit and once called Johnson Trump's “physical and emotional clone.”
Biden has vowed to back his Irish ancestral homeland if Brexit threatens its peace and economy. Some fear a Europe-allied, China-focused Biden might see Britain's "special relationship" with the United States — honed through decades of war, diplomacy and intelligence sharing — as increasingly irrelevant.
The public is more decisive, with 81 percent of those polled by Pew in September saying that they have no confidence in Trump.
“I've still got my placard in the garden,” Martin said. “I'm hoping I won't have to get it out again.”
By Linda Givetash and Yuliya Talmazan
Canada shares the longest border in the world with the U.S., but proximity has not bred much fondness in recent years.
Canadians' opinion of the U.S. and its leadership is now the lowest it has been in decades of polling, unaided by the often testy relationship between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump.
Canada’s security and economy depend on a stable and reliable United States, said Stephen Azzi, associate politics professor at Carleton University, and Trump's volatility worries not just the government but many regular Canadians.
Only 35 percent of Canadians have a favorable view of the U.S., and just 20 percent trust Trump to do what is right regarding world affairs, according to a Pew poll released in September. This year saw the lowest ratings for the U.S. in Canada since Pew Research Center began polling there almost two decades ago.
“America has become this place that I don't want to go and spend my time,” said Anna Beard, 32, a digital marketing specialist in the city of Kitchener, despite having family in the U.S.
The rise of the far right and increasingly polarized rhetoric among the American public feels like a “kind of descend into this pre-Civil War kind of mentality where it's alarming, it’s just very alarming,” she said.
As early as the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, Canada became one of many targets for Trump, who complained that Ottawa had taken advantage of the U.S. as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, said Donald Abelson, a political science professor at St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia.
A victory by Joe Biden would not necessarily mean that ongoing trade disputes between Canada and the U.S. would end, however, Abelson added. But a Democratic victory would mean that the relationship at the presidential and prime ministerial level could return to a greater degree of normalcy, mutual respect and cooperation, he said.
By Carolina Torres Mazzi
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, known as the “Trump of the Tropics,” has said that he and the U.S. leader “stand side by side” ideologically. A Joe Biden victory would likely mean a more distant relationship between the U.S. and this country of 200 million.
In August, Bolsonaro denied the existence of thousands of fires that have been raging in the Amazon, and he has been criticized internationally for not protecting the world’s largest rainforest. Like Trump, he criticized lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic, praised the supposed virtues of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, and also tested positive for Covid-19.
More than 6 in 10 Brazilians have no confidence in Trump doing the right thing on world affairs, according to a Pew poll taken in January.
Biden is a known quantity to Brazilians as an important voice on U.S.-Latin America relations. As vice president, he visited Brazil several times, though these included efforts to repair several rifts between the two countries.
Meanwhile, a Trump victory in November would not be without its perils for Bolsonaro. According to Armstrong, protectionist measures Trump has taken could hit the Brazilian economy.
Still, Brazilians are preoccupied with major health and economic crises and many don’t know what a new U.S. president will do for them.
“I would like Biden to win, but I don’t know if it makes a lot of difference. We already have so many problems,” said Jessica Almeida, 32, a Rio de Janeiro resident who works at a marketing agency.
By Liam Miller
SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile is one of the U.S.’s closest allies in South America, but it hasn’t received much attention of late. The Senate has failed to confirm a U.S. ambassador, its president has visited the U.S. just once, and the only planned trip by President Donald Trump (for the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in 2019) was canceled.
There are high levels of dissatisfaction with Trump ahead of the U.S. election, according to a Gallup poll taken in July. Just 16 percent of respondents approved of the job performance of the leadership of the U.S., while 67 percent disapproved.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden is well-known to Chileans, having visited the country seven times in his previous roles, including as vice president when he came for former President Michelle Bachelet’s 2014 inauguration.
“The recent lack of contact and strategy with the U.S. may see Chile favoring Biden’s more LatAm-facing policies,” said Robert Funk, a political scientist at the University of Chile.
A 2019 poll by CADEM, one of Chile’s main polling companies, showed that 70 percent of respondents held a negative image of Trump, compared to the 39 percent who disapproved of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
“Trump and the U.S. Senate’s failure to appoint an ambassador, and the fact we’ve had a very active Chinese ambassador, signal the new international reality where Chile is at a crossroads in terms of the future of its trade relations,” Funk said.
By Orlando Matos and Carmen Sesin
HAVANA — Few countries have been as adversely affected by President Donald Trump’s election as Cuba.
Trump came into office criticizing former President Barack Obama’s policy of engagement and the restoration of ties, and slammed his predecessor’s deal as “one sided.”
“If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal,” Trump tweeted weeks after his election.
Obama had ushered in a new era of U.S.-Cuba relations in 2015. Embassies were opened, travel and trade restrictions were eased, and U.S. travel to the island flourished. He became the first American president to visit the island since 1928.
Jill Biden, the wife of Joe Biden, followed months later. She watched a soccer match and visited a teachers’ college while there.
Biden has said he would reverse travel restrictions and limits on remittances put in place by Trump that have aggravated the country’s economic troubles.
A return to the U.S.’s previous engagement with the country would be welcomed by its government and most Cubans alike, particularly at a time when the pandemic has aggravated its languishing economy.
Camilo Condis, an electrical contractor and resident of Havana, said Biden would be the best option for Cuba after years of Trump tightening the screws.
“For many Cubans, Biden seems like a solution to many of our economic hardships,” Condis said. “But I cannot ignore that it’s our government that’s most responsible for our well-being.”
By Lenin Martell
MEXICO CITY — President Donald Trump kicked off his presidential campaign in 2015 by attacking Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. Five years later, three-quarters of Mexicans disapprove of U.S. leadership, according to a Gallup poll taken in July.
Trump’s hard-line immigration policies, particularly the “Remain in Mexico” program, which allowed the Department of Homeland Security to send tens of thousands of Central American asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico, have had a very negative impact on public opinion.
Joe Biden has pledged to reverse some of Trump’s immigration policies, including the separation of parents from children at the border. He’s also promised to cooperate with Mexico on shared border issues and invest in better border technology and screening procedures.
He is likely to be a more palatable choice in Mexico, given widespread opposition to many of Trump’s policies. According to a Pew poll released in January, 90 percent of Mexicans opposed the building of a wall on the border and only 8 percent had confidence in Trump.
The president’s attempts to end the popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to avoid deportation and remain in the country, have also been widely unpopular among Mexicans. Two-thirds of the immigrants who benefit from the DACA program are from Mexico, according to a Pew study.
But Trump’s unpopularity in Mexico contrasted sharply with a warm meeting between Trump and Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador in July to mark the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Nevertheless, Jorge Sánchez, a university student in Mexico City, said that Biden would be a better choice for Mexico.
“Trump is an unpleasant and biased person,” Sánchez, 22, said. “I prefer Biden, because he has experienced difficult things in life, and that makes me think he has a more humane and broader vision of the world.”
By Virginia López Glass
CARACAS, Venezuela — Early last year, if you’d asked Venezuelans what they thought of President Donald Trump, many would likely have supported his commitment to ousting President Nicolás Maduro.
Months later, Maduro continues to cling to power as his country grapples with chronic fuel shortages, inflation and widespread poverty. Perhaps as a result, 39 percent of Venezuelans approved the U.S. leadership’s job performance, according to a Gallup poll released in July, while 54 percent disapproved.
Joe Biden, meanwhile, has labelled the president's Venezuela policy an “abject failure.”
“Venezuelan people are worse off, living in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world,” Biden said on a news program in South Florida, home to a growing number of Venezuelan émigrés.
He also slammed Trump for not granting Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans in the U.S., which would give them the ability to live and work there legally, and criticized the president for saying he would meet with Maduro.
Trump has taken a harder line toward Venezuela than predecessor Barack Obama.
He included the country alongside Cuba and Nicaragua in what became known as the “troika of tyranny,” and imposed crippling sanctions on the country’s key industries, challenged Maduro’s legitimacy and backed the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate leader. In March, the State Department offered a $15 million reward to anyone who aids in Maduro's arrest.
In a country where few believe that change can come through democracy, Trump rekindled some people’s hope that the government could be replaced. Yet, Maduro remains in power, and Guaidó’s credibility and popularity have ebbed.
This disillusionment in Trump is palpable in the capital, Caracas.
“I believed in him but in the end, nothing of what ‘El Catire’ did was productive for Venezuelans,” said mechanic Eligio Montero, 40, referring to Trump with Spanish slang for blond.
CORRECTION ( Feb. 23, 5:00 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of India’s prime minister. He is Narendra Modi, not Naredra Modi.