The COVID-19 outbreak has seriously impacted the politics in Washington, DC. The United States is the world’s most affected nation, with over 200,000 deaths and millions infected. Unemployment levels are at record heights, while the country is also dealing with massive social unrest following George Floyd’s death.
With Donald Trump’s amassing failures and with elections coming up in a few weeks, the president has shifted focus overseas to increase his reelection chances.
Trump has deployed several envoys abroad to achieve diplomatic victories, directing his attention to the Middle East. His most recent efforts have led to a breakthrough between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain.
Trump’s emphasis on the Middle East might be because his popularity is strongest among white evangelical Protestants, well known for having philo-Semitic views.
White evangelical Protestants constituted one out of every five voters in the 2016 election, according to Pew Research Center. They have consistently been among the strongest supporters of Republican candidates and supported Trump by a 77 to 16 percent margin.
Traditionally, foreign policy does not have a significant impact on US election results. However, this year it might be a backdrop to US domestic policy.
This presidential election, foreign policy makes the top 10 list of the most important issues. Nearly 6 in 10 (57 percent) of registered voters said that foreign policy will be a very important factor in deciding who to vote for.
Three Diplomatic Breakthroughs, One Common Denominator
Since the beginning of his mandate, Trump’s foreign policy has been unconventional and idiosyncratic, emphasizing quick results over substance. In a matter of weeks, Trump managed to secure several diplomatic milestones, which all have a common denominator: Israel.
First, his administration established diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel, making the UAE only the third Arab country to normalize relations with the Jewish state.
Second, Trump pushed for an economic normalization deal between Kosovo and Serbia. However, after their meeting at the White House, both countries left with an agreement to open their embassies in Jerusalem, thus recognizing the city as Israel’s capital.
Finally, Trump managed to establish diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain, making Bahrain the fourth Arab country to recognize Israel.
By achieving these diplomatic breakthroughs just weeks before the election, Trump is attempting to portray himself as a leader contributing to world peace.
Foreign Policy Matters This Election
Most American citizens believe that the US has an important role to play on the world stage. A majority support US engagement and leadership in international affairs. Around seven in ten Americans agree that the US should take a leading or major role in international affairs, according to Gallup.
Yet this year, there is a stark divide between Democrats and Republicans regarding foreign policy, something that has not been witnessed in decades, as stated by a survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Global affairs.
Liberal and conservative voters have opposite views on most internal matters such as taxes, health care, gun policy, and migration, but when it comes to foreign policy, there is a tendency to unite around the flag.
Trump’s presidency has changed that. While his foreign policy doctrine is nationalistic, Joe Biden’s views are more based on cooperation and engagement. Biden has already positioned himself as the most experienced candidate on foreign policy and will make sure to point out Trump’s failures in presidential debates.
In response, Trump has been using the last couple of weeks to build up his fence. Achieving international victories that benefit Israel is his way of constructing his defense and appeal to US voters.
Peace efforts between Israel and its Arab neighbors have long-standing bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people. Trump is using his best foreign policy card effectively.
Trump’s spectacular scenes at the White House, signing deal after deal, have the potential to sway the US election this year. And Trump does not seem to have the intention of stopping. He still has four more weeks to go and two more presidential debates to convince the American electorate.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.