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The world leaders who love Trump

President Donald Trump pointing at a crowd

Donald Trump's presidency has irked a lot of people around the world. And in fairness, that's no surprise. He was elected in part to blow up long-standing assumptions about how international politics, trade, and diplomatic relations are supposed to work.

But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.


And yet, there are many world leaders who have gotten a lot out of his presidency — in ideological support or specific policies — and who won't be happy if he loses in November. Let's visit some of Trump's highest-profile fans.

Brazil. In 2018, an obscure, far-right lawmaker named Jair Bolsonaro swept to power with a brand of provocative anti-establishment politics so similar to the US president's that he earned the nickname "Trump of the Tropics." What's more, Trump's disdain for environmental regulation has helped Bolsonaro to avoid wider global censure for encouraging Amazon deforestation. But just as Trump's victory helped to legitimize rightwing populism around the globe, says Brazilian commentator Guga Chacra, Trump's loss could hurt Bolsonaro's own re-election bid for 2022.

The illiberal Europeans. Much of Western Europe is fed up with Trump, but the avowedly "illiberal" rightwing nationalist governments in Poland and Hungary are fervent admirers. When Polish President Andrzej Duda was on the verge of losing re-election this summer, he made a beeline for the White House for a photo-op that probably helped him to a narrow win. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, meanwhile, has already openly endorsed Trump for re-election.

Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has bet big on the Trump administration, and it's paid off. No American president in recent memory has been as accommodating to Israel's aims — whether in recognizing its control of the Golan Heights, walking out of the Iran nuclear deal, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, or brokering the normalization of ties with the UAE and Bahrain. As a result, Trump is hugely popular with Israelis, and he featured prominently in Bibi's own re-election campaign this summer. Netanyahu now faces growing protests — along with lingering graft charges – and he can ill-afford to see Trump fall from power, Tel Aviv-based commentator Neri Zilber recently told us.

India. New Delhi has been very, very pleased with one particular aspect of Trump's policy: his hard line on China. India has had testy ties with Beijing over the years, and they are getting worse as the two countries now jockey for 21st century Asian supremacy. So while previous US administrations had talked a big game on China but then gone soft behind closed doors, Trump, says Pramit Pal Chaudhuri of the Hindustan Times, "was willing to break China."

Russia. When Trump won in 2016, Russian lawmakers popped champagne. Four years later, the bilateral relationship is as toxic as ever — the US has imposed more sanctions while walking out of arms control treaties that Moscow wants to renegotiate. Still, Trump has been great for Vladimir Putin in a more general sense: Trump's view is that international politics is about transactions rather than values and he thinks America has no business playing global policeman. All of that lines up nicely with Putin's vision of a multipolar world in which US power is significantly diminished. If Trump loses, Putin would have to contend with a more traditional internationalist president in Joe Biden.

But let's be serious: what Putin probably wants most, whoever ultimately wins, is a disputed election that further undermines confidence in American democracy.

Want to know more about how the world sees the US election? Check out our entire project on it — interviews with locals in 24 different countries — here!

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Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump presented his vision for an "America First" foreign policy, which symbolized a radical departure from the US' longtime approach to international politics and diplomacy.

In electing Donald Trump, a political outsider, to the top job, American voters essentially gave him a mandate to follow through on these promises. So, has he?

Trade

"A continuing rape of our country."

On the 2016 campaign trail, candidate Trump said that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 country trade deal pushed by the Obama administration — would "rape" America's economy by imperiling the manufacturing sector, closing factories, and taking more jobs overseas.

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In an op-ed titled "Iran Arms Embargo Reckoning," the Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that ending the UN arms embargo on Iran was a major flaw of the 2015 nuclear deal and questions whether Biden could do anything to contain Iran at this point. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Henry Rome take out the Red Pen to explain why this discussion misrepresents the importance of the embargo and the consequences for its expiration.

So, the US presidential election is now just days away, and today's selection is focusing on a specific aspect of foreign policy that will certainly change depending on who wins in the presidential contest—namely America's approach to Iran.

You've heard me talk before about the many similarities between Trump and Biden on some international policies, like on China or on Afghanistan. But Iran is definitely not one of those. Trump hated the JCPOA, the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, put together under the Obama administration, and he walked away from it unilaterally. Joe Biden, if he were to become president, would try to bring it back.

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It almost didn't happen — but here we are again. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden face off tonight in the final presidential debate of the 2020 US election campaign.

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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