Whoever wins the US Presidential election, the gradual decline in the USA as a world leader will continue.
If Trump wins again then this process is likely to be accelerated. We have just about tolerated his extraordinary cocktail of boasts, lies, threats and sneers for four years, but another four years would be unbearable. He is a disgrace. At a time when the world needs strong and clear-sighted leadership, we have a fool in the Whitehouse.
If Biden wins, we will not be much better off. His career to date has not shown the kind of strength or vision that we now require. I see the value of experience, but whether a man of his advanced years and occasional frailty could possibly provide the global leadership required is doubtful.
And what leadership do we need in this generation? First, we must get through the Covid crisis. I am sure that by the summer/autumn of 2021 we will. Then we hope to see the world economy picking up.
Second, we need to maintain focus on climate change to ensure we have something to pass on to our grandchildren.
But the key issue and immediate threat to our way of life, is the rise and rise of China. President Xi, if his health holds up, is likely to be the leader of China for at least a decade. Many China-watchers agree, that in the past 12 months or so, the Chinese leadership has hardened its attitude towards the West. Their attempts to enter into a modern relationship with the West are constantly rebuffed by us (understandably) crying foul over human rights and territorial ambitions. Perhaps, they have come to the conclusion that they are now strong enough to make their own decisions, irrespective of our reaction.
Their economy has grown strong on manufacture and exports. It is hard to buy a product today not manufactured in China. They are now reconfiguring their economy towards domestic consumption. They are large enough to pull this off, provided they can maintain supplies of raw materials which they have been very adept at securing from all corners of the globe in recent years.
They have a huge cash mountain, while most of the world is floundering in debt.
We have seen them trumpeting their new weapon capability in recent weeks. They seem to be making a point.
Managing China’s newfound confidence will be an extremely challenging process requiring strong diplomacy from the West in general and US in particular. It will require the kind of strong wise leadership that we are unlikely to see.