Biden vs Trump | What do Super Tuesday results mean for U.S. and India?

In this episode of Worldview, we discuss what will a rematch between Biden and Trump in the US presidential election mean for U.S. Foreign Policy, geopolitics and India.

Updated - March 08, 2024 09:03 pm IST

Published - March 08, 2024 07:50 pm IST

As U.S. democrats and republicans each hand U.S. President Joseph Biden and former U.S. President Donald Trump wins in the Super Tuesday votes, a rematch between the two seems likely. What does that mean for U.S. Foreign Policy, for geopolitics and for India? We will weigh up the differences.

Hello and Welcome to WorldView at The Hindu with me Suhasini Haidar. We will also speak to former U.S. National Security Council official Lisa Curtis up ahead.

But first the U.S. crossed a major milestone in its election year calendar- with Super Tuesday on March 5- a day that comes exactly 8 months before the Presidential election, due on November 5 this year.

“They call it Super Tuesday for a reason……that nobody has been able to do for a long time” said Trump.

President Joseph Biden did not give a speech on Super Tuesday, saying in a statement that the results gave Americans a choice between going forwards with him or backwards with Donald Trump. In his State of the Union speech in U.S. Congress, he took a further swipe at Trump.

“Now my predecessor a Republican said to Putin “Do whatever you want”. A former President bowing down to a Russian leader is outrageous dangerous and unacceptable”

Clearly global events and foreign policy will be a key part of this year’s US elections, and it is important to keep an eye on how the race goes for that reason.

Now there’s less buzz about this election for a number of reasons:

1. Both contenders have been Presidents for 1 term each- Trump from 2016-2020 and Biden from 2020-2024

2. At 81 Biden is the oldest U.S. President, and at 77 Trump is the second oldest in the race- and concerns about their mental and physical health overshadow other concerns

3. Neither candidate has any major challengers- and one should probably have appeared by this point in the race. Trump’s last rival Nikki Haley bowed out of the race this weeks, winning only 2 state elections- Vermont and DC.

Even so a lot does hinge for the world on what the result will be- So what are the differences between them on 5 key global issues

CHINA AND INDO PACIFICWill continue with the Indo-Pacific Policy and Quad to challenge ChinaMore likely to fight China with Trade measures, tariffs and sanctions
RUSSIASays he is committed to helping Ukraine fight Russia, more military supplies, target PutinSilent on Putin, he is likely to pull funding for Ukraine, make European allies pay more
MIDDLE EAST CONFLICTContinue support for Israel, but push for less Palestinian civilian casualties, and against Gaza occupation by IsraelWill support Israel even more, unlikely to factor civilian casualties or Gaza, but could broker another deal like the Abraham accords- esp. with Saudi Arabia
NATO AND US INVOLVEMENT ABROADWill push for strengthening NATO, adding more members, and US engagement in all geopolitical conflictsMore hands off on conflict, won’t want US boots on the ground abroad, Has already demanded NATO pay its share, and earlier threatened to pull out
GLOBALISM AND MULTILATERALISMContinue strong engagement with UN and other multilateral organisations on climate, AI and cyberwarfare, nuclear and other future challengesCampaign slogan to “Reject Globalism” and likely to make fighting radical Islamic terror, Iran, restore “American leadership”. Would defund or withdraw from UN organisations and agreements

What are the key issues for India when it comes to Biden vs Trump policies?

Both sides have prominent candidates who happen to be Indian-American- US VP Kamala Harris is on the ticket, and while former Governor and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has bowed out, Trump has kept Vivek Ramaswamy, who dropped out earlier and even Tulsi Gabbard, who is not of Indian origin but identifies as a Hindu-American as possible running mates.






Earlier I spoke to Lisa Curtis, who was the Deputy Assistant to President Trump at the US NSC, and now is the Director for Indo Pacific Security Programme- and began by asking her how much would hinge on 

Q: How much would change?

A: If you’re talking about a country like India, for example, I think that we would not see major changes. There’s been bipartisan support over the last 20 years, whether it’s Republican or Democrat, favouring building up the relationship with India, building up India’s capability so that it can play a stronger role in the Indo Pacific and help with that balancing with China.

Q: In 2018, India did accept the Trump administration demand to zero out oil imports from Iran, but in 2022 refused to agree to the Biden administration’s initial demand to cut oil imports from Russia….What kind of expectations would the next US government have on future conflicts from India?

A: I think the Biden administration has been incredibly patient with India on the issue of India support to Russia, you know, increasing its energy imports from Russia, taking a neutral stance at the UN and other such policies. And you also have the issue of the plot to assassinate Sikh activists in the United States…

Q: The alleged plot…

A: Yes, alleged, and the fact that these two issues, have not really disrupted the US-India relationship says something about the foundation of that relationship and how much has been invested over the last several years. When it comes to the Trump administration, I think Iran is an issue he would be tough on. On Taiwan, there wasn’t any expectation that India would send warships or get involved militarily. I think there’s an understanding that well, India could provide diplomatic support to Taiwan, humanitarian support and may even allow the US some kind of basing or logistics support. With the Trump administration, I think it’s difficult to say. President Trump did have very high expectations from India on supporting Afghanistan.

WV Take: The election of the US President this year doesn’t ignite as much interest for a number of reasons- esp. the fact that the candidates have already been in the position before, and whoever wins will only get one term- 4 years in office, and has a limited ability to take forward their policies this point on. While India has a good record of dealing with both, there’s no doubt that there is more predictability with President Biden, as opposed to the social media surprises that President Trump dealt out- a Trump administration however will take less of an interest in concerns about India’s democracy, human rights and press freedoms. The most significant part of their policies for India will no doubt be how US ties with China fare, as that will decide many developments in the region.

WV Reading Recommendations :

1. The Internationalists: The Fight to Restore American Foreign Policy After Trump by Alexander Ward

2. America in Retreat Foreign Policy under Donald Trump by Mel Gurtov

3. Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman

4. Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

5. A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy by Nancy L. Rosenblum and Russell Muirhead

6. The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts, Minds, and Democracy by Anand Giridharadas

7. Open Embrace: India-US Ties : India-US Ties in a Divided World by Varghese K. George

Script and Presentation: Suhasini Haidar

Production: Gayatri Menon & Kanishkaa Balachandran

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