Despite the fact that a number of world leaders, including President Donald Trump, are in Davos, Switzerland this week for the World Economic Forum, the world is once again focused on what is going on in Washington DC: the impeachment trial in the US Senate of the President of the United States.
The “Leader of the Free World” always has the eyes of every nation focused on him at all times, but Donald Trump has mastered the international public eye from his “America First” foreign policy that included encouraging NATO members to pay their fair share to allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 US Election to help Trump to President Trump’s decision to eliminate Iranian terrorist Qassem Soleimani.
However, the impeachment trial is different. The impeachment allegations stem from a phone call in July with newly inaugurated Ukrainian President Zelensky, in which House Democrats allege that President Trump urged Zelensky to investigated Joe and Hunter Biden, and that vital US foreign aid was contingent on the investigation. The United States Congress has been embroiled in investigations, hearings and public battles between Democrats and Republicans over the issue, and the international community has certainly taken notice of the resulting sparring.
While most world leaders are knowledgeable enough to understand that President Trump will not be convicted and removed by the Senate, they understand the political ramifications both domestically and internationally.
Internationally, a number of world leaders are likely to watch with two things in mind. First, world leaders will wonder if their conversations with the President of the United States will remain private or will be scrutinized by Congress and the media every time a President of the opposite party is in power. Leaders may be concerned about discussing sensitive information that could expose anything going on in their nation.
Second, world leaders in other nations could use the impeachment trial and any information that comes out for their own benefit. US intelligence agencies know with near certainty that Russia will attempt to interfere in the 2020 US election, likely in similar fashion to what they did in 2016 with “troll farms” on social media by pitting both sides of the political spectrum against one another and by spreading disinformation.
Given Russia’s success in creating significant discord, it is not unlikely to see other hostile nations such as Iran or even China pursue such actions. Iran, China, North Korea and Russia already lead in attempted cyber attacks on US interests, so pushing into the political arena is not out of the realm of possibility.
Domestically, the impeachment trial could have a significant impact on the 2020 US election. A number of analysts believe that the impeachment push will actually backfire on Democrats, and will hand Republicans back the House, allow them to keep the Senate and re-elect Donald Trump as President. However Democratic analysts believe that the impeachment trial will actually damage Republicans for supporting Donald Trump and will allow Democrats to keep the House, take the Senate and defeat Donald Trump. Leaders in other nations will likely have their own data and analysis that leads them to believe one way or the other, and they are planning either for a new President or four more years of Donald Trump, either which would have a significant impact on their foreign policy moving forward.
For America’s enemies and rivals, an impeachment trial that distracts and divides the American public is exactly what they want. For America’s allies, the uncertainty that it provides can be a dangerous and tricky maze to navigate. World leaders should not be endorsing one outcome or another (though that has not stopped American Presidents in the past from endorsing world leaders), but privately they each likely prefer certain outcomes.
In another sense, the world is also watching how Congress and the American people handle the trial. Our politics have become more and more divisive as the years have gone on, and the international community has always looked to America as the shining example of a true Republic. If our discord continues to get worse due to divides caused by the trial, our standing in the international community may also unfortunately drop. Americans must stay united and calm in order to show the world how the best Republic in the world can continue to lead through its most difficult times.
Whether Americans and our politicians realize it or not, the world is most certainly watching this weeks proceedings. No matter which side of the aisle you stand on, we can agree that at the end of the day the United States must come out strong and united instead of divided to show the world that we truly are the greatest nation on Earth.
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