As a EU citizen I find it generally hard to get emotionally and personally invested in the election of the next president of the United States, after all, the news we are subjected to here in Europe cover mainly American internal affairs, how they’re handled by the candidates and so leave us with little interest and even less sense of involvement. At best, what European newspapers and broadcasts seem to be interested in for the most part is the parallels between the rise of nationalisms across the west and the loss of the political status quo in many countries, creating parallels between the US and the EU. Thus the majority of Europeans nowadays argue whether Trump is right when calling for a more “selfish” America that should focus more on itself or whether a man with such controversial ideas and plans would be fit for the presidency of any country. An interesting topic, don’t get me wrong, but not the one we should be talking about.
To answer the question I posed in the title, it is essential to ask ourselves: What does it mean for the EU if Trump wins? What about if Clinton wins?
Hillary Clinton has been manifesting her will to be the embodiment of continuity with the Obama administration as far as internal affairs are concerned but with what seem to be a different stance on foreign policy. She appears to be rather willing to have a more aggressive approach to America’s business outside of the national borders. And this stance passes from the confirmation of the strong relations between the US and the EU, especially as far as military aid is concerned. Countries like Ukraine would definitely support a Clinton presidency if that means armaments and support in their struggle with Russia. But because you never give without expecting something in return, America’s increased involvement in international disputes would also mean a much larger request of aid and support in these struggles from NATO allies. How would a country like Italy, traditionally cautious when having to send troops and armaments abroad, handle a stronger pressure from it’s transatlantic ally? Also, Hillary Clinton would be a strong supporter of the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) a trade agreement in the works that would increase economic relations between the US and the EU, but nonetheless an agreement opposed by a vast number of European citizens.
Donald Trump on the other hand, has openly criticized America’s massive involvement in global affairs, especially regarding the amount of money this involvement costs the US every year. From Japan and South Korea to Germany he openly claims that America should withdraw its soldiers and stop spending money to protect these countries that have the economical strength to be able to do that on their own. He also advocates for serious limitations on trade between the US and the EU. He wants America on its own and to do that he wants to stop “wasting” US dollars abroad. He is obviously a strong enemy of the TTIP.
Leaving out personal political orientation and moral compass, the situation for Europeans appears to be, no matter the outcome, at best complicated. On one hand the risk of being dragged into a call to arms and various degrees of responsibilities, on the other the crumbling of all hopes regarding a future economic rebirth tied to stronger bonds with the US, on top of the perspective of providing for themselves as far as military protection is concerned in an ever increasing way.
Given the fact that some countries in Europe, for political and internal reasons, would rather see a Trump presidency while others would support a Clinton one, a definitive answer to the question that started this article seems to be unlikely, but if European news would focus more on these topic, the discussion among EU citizen would, at least, take a turn for the “useful”.