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How Joe Biden’s election has jolted the world led by nationalist ‘alpha male’ leaders

In episode 632 of #CutTheClutter, Shekhar Gupta decodes what Biden’s term would mean for nationalist leaders like Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Turkey’s Erdogan and India's Modi.

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New Delhi: The world is dominated by nationalist ‘alpha male’ leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

However, Joe Biden’s election as US President is expected to have an impact on these alpha male leaders with American politics witnessing a more liberal shift.

In episode 632 of ThePrint’s Cut The Clutter, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta decodes this change that Biden’s term will bring about.

Gupta takes a larger look at the state of the world and how it stands to be rebooted with  Biden’s upcoming term.

“If you look at the state of the world, you can go clockwise or anti-clockwise, you will see the world is being run by alpha males of the nationalist Right, and now the world is about to change for all of them,” Gupta said.

Also read: Biden says he will ask all Americans to wear masks for 100 days

Russia not on Biden’s mind

With outgoing US President Donald Trump’s term coming to end, the “strongest of strong men” alpha males of the nationalist Right is gone, Gupta noted.

Gupta also highlighted how President-elect Biden is not talking a lot about Russia — another alpha male stronghold — which was seen in his interview to The New York Times.

“Russia is not on top of Biden’s mind. That will be a big difference from Donald Trump, for whom Russia had different kinds of importance. There was a general impression that Putin had some kind of leverage over him, which he will no longer have over Biden,” Gupta said.

He added that considering these changes, Putin may be driven to a security or strategic alliance with China.

Uniting allies and being tough against China

In China’s case, Trump made a “big deal” out of trade imbalance with the country and said a lot of rude things about it. He even put tariffs on some goods coming from China.

However, Gupta noted, this did not hurt China but what hurt the US was Trump breaking his own alliances.

“He (Trump) broke up the Trans Pacific Partnership which was going to be dominating trade in this region and would have closed off the space for China’s move with RCEP,” Gupta said.

Trump’s ‘America-centric’ thinking was driving allies away, he added.

With Biden, China has to handle a new reality because he is not going to declare a friendship with China. “Biden’s campaign looked tough on China even more than Trump,” Gupta said.

In the NYT interview, Biden said he wouldn’t change anything with China right now, rather he will wait and see how the situation develops.

The President-elect said his strategy was to get all of America’s allies on the same page, and that it was the only way to have some leverage over China.

In order to build leverage against China, Biden will have to invest in America’s economy, especially in sectors like biotech, special materials, new materials, clean and green technologies etc.

“You can see a more patient move on China with allies, I don’t think it’s going to make Xi Jinping very happy or very comforted. I think Jinping is going to be in a hurry to see what he can do in the two months before Biden settles down,” Gupta said.

Also read: US spy chief John Ratcliffe calls China greatest threat since World War II

Biden won’t be silent on Turkey 

The biggest change in American policy to be witnessed after Biden’s rise will be in Turkey.

Erdogan was ‘punching’ above his weight and he did it because “Trump’s withdrawal from everything created a vacuum there”, said Gupta.

He added that Turkey was being two-faced in most international matters. In Syria, it was fighting Russia but then was in cahoots with the latter on some other matter. Similarly, Turkey allied with Israel in Kazakhstan but later abused the country because it wanted to establish itself as the leader of the Islamic world.

According to Gupta, Erdogan did so because he thought the “sheriff” (Trump) was his ‘friend’ and that he can continue to do whatever he wants, but now that’s not going to happen when Biden comes to power.

“Biden will not be silent considering the human rights violations in Turkey and how Erdogan is destroying his democracy,” he explained.

Biden committed to JCPOA

“This isn’t Trump’s America that will leave the Middle East to its own devices, or make its own deals with the Arab world, and then let everyone else play their games,” Gupta said.

Trump was a ‘big enemy’ for Iran and “had done all the worst he could have done with Iran short of attacking them, which his people have now denied him because he does not have the power to launch an operation”, Gupta revealed.

With Biden coming in, Iran doesn’t have to worry about that and can “heave a little sigh of relief”, he said. In fact, he added, they might witness a ‘some balance’ coming back since Biden is committed to going back to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

Biden has said his priority in negotiations with Iran will be to block their development of a nuclear weapon. This will turn out to be a positive for India since it will lift tensions in the Islamic world. India has important commercial interests with Iran, like oil purchases and exports.

Also read: Iran votes to end international inspections of atomic sites if US doesn’t lift sanctions

Brazil and Israel

In Brazil, Bolsonaro is going to ‘miss’ Trump because he got away with a lot when the latter was in power but Biden “will raise questions about this and that”, said Gupta.

Furthermore, Bolsonaro’s ratings are also down owing to his handling of the coronavirus situation in Brazil.

Biden’s administration will also not be as ‘forgiving’ as Trump with Israel. He will especially not be pleased with the country annexing the West Bank territories and declaring Israel sovereignty over settlements on the West Bank and Palestinian territories.

Trump had moved the American embassy to Jerusalem and Biden was also not in favour of that.

Biden won’t be ‘indifferent’ to India’s internal issues 

Gupta also noted that “Biden will not be as indifferent to many internal issues in India”.

He said Modi’s second term is looking very different from his first, considering the Chinese standoff, farmers’ protest, coronavirus and economic decline. Biden’s election is one such change.

“So all in all, the change in America and also the weakening of many of these strong men who have been friends of India, and also strengthening of the odd one like Iran. All this tells you that this world has changed,” Gupta concluded.

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  1. China sent the virus that they made in a lab somewhere. That has been the defining issue in 2020. Trump has been hitting on China and then the paper dragon let out its venom into the world

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