I am writing this edition of Brussels Diaries in lockdown in Belgium. The coronavirus situation here is ten times worse than in Estonia: everybody is tired but as of yet there is no end in sight to the pandemic. However, today, coronavirus is not the top news story. The number one topic is the presidential elections in the US, and Brussels is closely following the process. Because, let us face it, too much depends on the US in the EU and the rest of the world.
Who the eventual winner of this battle of titans will be is not yet clear. We will probably not learn the final result in a day or two, as vote counting will likely drag on due to coronavirus. All of this time the world will be in suspense. Trump or Biden? Biden or Trump?
I have already said that the EU and the US will inevitably be antagonists regardless of who – Trump or Biden – wins. Neither of them likes Nord Stream 2; however, Germany likes it and the Germans do not want to buy liquefied gas from the US. Nevertheless, the EU is mostly hoping that Joe Biden will prevail.
Biden is somewhat closer to Europe: he has not forgotten his Irish roots and has regularly visited his ancestral motherland. All that Trump has in the EU is business interests – he also owns a golf course there, in Ireland. Trump's ancestral motherland is Germany, more precisely Bavaria, where his grandfather Friedrich Trump was born. However, it was Germany that Trump put in the same category as Iran and China – “these countries want to get rid of me”. Trump clearly does not like Europe.
Europe does not like him either. Because Trump had a falling-out with us. Who withdrew from the negotiations about the transatlantic trade partnership? Who ditched everybody by leaving the Paris Agreement on climate? Who ruined the Iran deal? Who threatened Europe with trade wars and began to follow through in the most disgraceful manner? Who said that Russia, China and Europe are America's enemies? Yes, it was Donald Trump. Anyone any questions on why we should like him?
This is why Heiko Maas, the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, promised that if Biden is elected, he will propose a new transatlantic partnership to the White House. Because enough is enough. Europe is fed up with Trump and nobody wants to deal with this circus for four more years.
By the way, Trump's supporters say that he has not started any wars, while Biden supported the expansion of NATO to the East, US intervention in the former Yugoslavia, war in Iraq, and, as vice president, an invasion of Libya.
True, there is not much to say about this. Only that under Trump's leadership the USA assassinated General Soleimani and almost started a war with Iran; under Trump's leadership the US played risky games with North Korea, which, by the way, is a nuclear-weapon state; under Trump's leadership, the US Embassy was moved to Jerusalem, thus complicating the situation in the Middle East. Above all, during Trump's presidency unrest occurred in the US itself. It is as if Trump is playing with matches at a petrol station: thank God, nothing has happed yet; nevertheless, it is a good idea at this stage to take the matches away from him.
However, only the Americans themselves can do it. The question is do they want to. Will Biden be better than Trump? – in truth, he would have to make a massive effort to be worse.