16 November 2020

View: The Modi government will find a Biden presidency to be less volatile

By Tanvi Madan

If present trends continue, Joe Biden will be president of the United States on January 20. While the situation remains in flux, certain elements are worth keeping in mind for the next few months.

First, Donald J Trump will still be president till then, with the power to handle crises that emerge and to take actions such as personnel changes and executive orders, including on China and Iran.

Second, control of the Senate is not yet clear. It will be determined by the outcome of the two Senate races in Georgia, which will be headed for runoffs on January 5. Senate control could shape President Biden’s choices with regard to personnel appointments that require Senate confirmation, and policies — including on trade, immigration, democracy and human rights, an economic stimulus package and the defence budget. If Republicans keep control of the Senate, centrist — rather than progressive — appointments and approaches will be more likely.

Third, personnel appointments could have an impact on a Biden administration’s approach on key issues of interest to India, like China and trade. Positions to watch include the leads of agencies involved in foreign and security policy (national security adviser, secretaries of defence and state, CIA director) and economic policy (secretaries of treasury and commerce, US Trade Representative). Lower-level positions of interest will include the NSC senior director and the assistant secretaries covering the region, and the US ambassador to India.

India’s turning point: An economic agenda to spur growth and jobs

By Shirish Sankhe, Anu Madgavkar, Gautam Kumra, Jonathan Woetzel, Sven Smit

India is at a decisive point in its journey toward prosperity. The economic crisis sparked by COVID-19 could spur reforms that return the economy to a high-growth track and create gainful jobs for 90 million workers to 2030; letting go of this opportunity could risk a decade of economic stagnation. A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute identifies a reform agenda that could be implemented in the next 12 to 18 months. It aims to raise productivity and incomes for workers, small and midsize firms, and large businesses, keeping India in the ranks of the world’s outperforming emerging economies.

Section 1

India needs rapid GDP growth to create at least 90 million nonfarm jobs by 2030

A clarion call is sounding for India to put growth on a sustainably faster track and meet the aspirations of its growing workforce. Over the decade to 2030, India needs to create at least 90 million new nonfarm jobs to absorb the 60 million new workers who will enter the workforce based on current demographics, and an additional 30 million workers who could move from farm work to more productive nonfarm sectors. If an additional 55 million women enter the labor force, at least partially correcting historical underrepresentation, India’s job creation imperative would be even greater (Exhibit 1).

China, the U.S. and a post-Covid Indo-Pacific setting

With the Covid-19 spreading devastation and future uncertainty globally, nations are continuing to come to grips with the catastrophic loss of human life, and the unprecedented damage to their economies and livelihoods. Chinese media outlet Caixin Global revealed that Chinese laboratories had in fact identified a mystery virus, later identified as Covid-19, to be a highly infectious new pathogen by late December 2019. But they were ordered to stop further testing, destroy samples, and suppress information to the fullest extent possible. The regional health official in Wuhan City, the epicenter of the pandemic, demanded the destruction of the lab samples, which established the cause of an unexplained viral pneumonia since January 1, 2020.

China did not acknowledge that there was human-to-human transmission until more than three weeks later. Caixin Global went on to provide the clearest evidence of the scale of this fatal cover-up in the very crucial early weeks, when the opportunity was lost to control the outbreak – a contagion that has spread throughout the world thereafter, and has caused a global shutdown, literally, destroying humanity and economies. Further, the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) needs to be investigated. Questions loom large as to upon whose behest did the WHO delay issuing warnings about human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus to the world?

Hopes and Doubts in Beijing

By Cheng Li

Never before has Beijing paid such close attention to the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. Chinese leaders recognize that competition will define U.S.-Chinese relations no matter who occupies the White House. But they also believe that former Vice President Joe Biden’s triumph over President Donald Trump provides an opportunity to halt—or at the very least slow—the two countries’ alarming march to confrontation.

Relations have deteriorated at an astonishing rate during Trump’s presidency. The trade war has been the most conspicuous example of friction, but larger strategic tensions have also heightened the risk of conflict. The Trump administration’s barrage of blame, overtly racist remarks, policies aimed at decoupling, and rhetoric advocating regime change has jolted many officials in the upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Unsurprisingly, the prevailing mood on Chinese social media in the wake of the U.S. election is one of relief and optimism, although views of Trump among the general public are by no means uniform. A popular Internet meme captured the public’s enthusiasm for a Biden presidency, rechristening Beijing’s Forbidden City as the “For-Biden City.”

But moods of optimism can turn quickly. Only four years ago, China received the news of Trump’s election with similar enthusiasm. Many Chinese leaders viewed Trump as a businessman with whom they could get things done. That proved to be wishful thinking. China’s foreign policy establishment is wary but cautiously optimistic about better relations with a Biden administration. Still, many of the conditions that shaped Trump’s China policy still exist, and resetting relations between the world’s greatest powers will not be easy.

Almost Every U.S. State Is Now Officially a Coronavirus Hot Spot

By Laurie Garrett

The American COVID-19 crisis has reached catastrophic levels. With the White House fixated on election challenges and strange, ominous shake-ups in the Defense Department and national security agencies, the virus is out of control across the country—with 49 states simultaneously classified as hot spots. The spring and summer surges were geographically localized, first in the Northeast and Pacific coast, then in the South and Southwest. With peaks confined geographically, it was possible for an overwhelmed hospital director or governor to reach out to counterparts in less-affected states for help, obtaining doctors, nurses, EMT personnel, laboratory support, equipment, coroners, even morticians. But this time, as the holidays and winter approach, almost every state is simultaneously struck, hospitals are breaking records every day for caseloads, and death counts are rising.

On Thursday, 150,526 new cases were reported—a record-breaking 24 hours. And 1,104 Americans perished that day. And more than 67,000 Americans were in the hospital with COVID-19—another record-breaking statistic.

During New York’s dire April, tens of thousands of health care workers volunteered to pour into the city to help the overwhelmed doctors and nurses, coming not only from other states but also from Europe, Canada, and other parts of the world. This time, however, the coronavirus is simultaneously surging all over Europe and has spread from the United States to Canada and Mexico, leading to a generalized North American crisis.

The Biden Administration Needs a Fresh Approach to Huawei and 5G

By Andrew Grotto

China’s growing clout in 5G telecommunications and other digital technologies, much of it achieved through unfair competition, presents many risks to democracies, including espionage and the spread of disinformation. But the penetration of Western markets by companies that are instruments of an authoritarian state is only one of the risks in our connected and data-driven world. Digital technologies, for all their benefits to society, present risks no matter who owns or operates them—even if the risks are compounded when companies are influenced by authoritarian governments.

On all these risks, U.S. policy falls short: Despite the United States’ leadership in the global digital economy, Washington lacks a vision for governing digital risk even as evidence mounts that the laissez-faire experiment of outsourcing this responsibility to a handful of profit-maximizing technology giants has failed. Some U.S. states have attempted to fill the policy vacuum, with California standing out for its consumer privacy and Internet of Things security laws. But fragmented action by individual states is no substitute for coherent national leadership. Only with a strong national set of digital policies—which should be high on the agenda of President-elect Joe Biden’s administration—can the United States manage the growing risks to society and to national security emanating from the sector.

The Seven Pillars of Biden’s Foreign Policy

Anne Hidalgo, the first female mayor of Paris, succinctly framed the global reaction to The President-elect may prove more popular abroad than he is at home, partly because of his global experience. Between his first election to the Senate, in 1972, and becoming Vice-President, in 2009, Biden did two stints as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, travelled for decades to conflict hot spots and disaster zones, and met with nearly a hundred and fifty foreign leaders from almost five dozen countries. The President-elect is a well-known commodity. So are his views.

Biden Must Restore America’s Reputation as a Beacon of Press Freedom

By Suzanne Nossel

One of the many outrages of the Trump administration has been its assault on press freedom. Enshrined in the First Amendment, the free press is a treasured constitutional principle, the subject of landmark Supreme Court decisions, and an underpinning of American civic life. It also matters in U.S. foreign policy.

Although foreign policy was relegated to the margins of this fraught campaign season, press freedom is a critical building block of democracy globally—and the restoration of U.S. credibility on press freedom should therefore be a cornerstone of the Biden administration’s planned drive to shore up democracy around the world.

Until four years ago, press freedom in the United States was mostly a back-burner issue with legal specialists, civil liberties groups, and media companies waging fights against government secrecy and to defend the line on issues like defamation and journalists’ right to protect their sources. That began to change in 2016, as then candidate Donald Trump ramped up attacks on the press during his campaign, fomenting hostility toward journalists.

Global Views of a Biden Presidency


As leaders around the world offer congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Carnegie scholars across our global network are looking ahead to what their administration will mean for U.S. engagement with key international partners and competitors. With the United States still focused on COVID-19 and economic challenges at home, what is realistic for renewal of relationships abroad? Scholars offer initial thoughts on where we go from here.







Postelection Forecast: More Polarization Ahead


Last week’s elections brought to a brutal head how politically polarized the United States is. U.S. President Donald Trump’s relatively strong showing dashed the hope held by many of his critics that the election would constitute a repudiation of Trump, and in so doing, open the door to some kind of de-escalation of the country’s profound ideological divide. Instead, as George Packer wrote immediately after the election in an article in the Atlantic entitled “Face the Bitter Truth,” “we are two countries, and neither of them is going to be conquered or disappear anytime soon.”


Soberingly, more polarization appears probable, in three overlapping phases. First, as Trump keeps railing against the election, feeding the flames of conspiratorial thinking about imagined electoral fraud, he will further inflame partisan anger. His relentless attacks over the past four years on truth, institutions, and the legitimacy of his opponents have prepared the ground for this final, desperate campaign. With no substantial factual ground to stand on in his objections to the elections, he appears to hope that by bringing America’s partisan cauldron to a peak boil, some kind of crisis can be provoked that will break in his favor. He will undoubtedly cling to this approach long after he leaves office, defining his post-presidential political life as a sustained tirade against the election.

The U.S. vs. China: Money and Governance

by Frank Li

Money is not everything - Money is the only thing, not only for a business, but also for a country!

Here is the key difference between the U.S. and China in terms of money and governance: In China, the government controls money. In the U.S., it's the other way around!

Please share this article - Go to very top of page, right hand side, for social media buttons.

1. Three basic concepts and definitions

Fiat money: Read Wikipedia - fiat money. Simply put, fiat money is paper money. Both the US Dollar and China's RMB are fiat money.

Reserve currency (RC): Read Wikipedia - reserve currency. An "RC" is earned! The currency of the country with the strongest economy on earth earns the honor of being the "dominant" RC. Currently, the dominant RC is the U.S. Dollar. Before that, it was the British Pound Sterling (for about 200 years). What is the key behind an RC? Confidence and trust!

The EU’s “New Pact on Migration and Asylum” is missing a true foundation

Kemal Kirişci, M. Murat Erdoğan, and Nihal Eminoğlu

On September 23, the European Commission launched the “New Pact on Migration and Asylum,” proposing to overhaul the European Union’s long ailing policies in this area. European Union Vice President Margaritis Schinas likened the pact to a building with three floors, comprised of: an external dimension (“centered around strengthened partnerships with countries of origin and transit”), “robust management” of external borders, and “firm but fair internal rules.” The commission proposal must still make its way through the legislative process in the European Parliament and European Council.

The problem is: The pact needs a foundational basement, in the form of recognizing that an overwhelming majority of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries. Without a basement, the whole edifice is undermined. The EU must incorporate policy ideas from the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) to rectify this.


The pact’s external dimension — which calls for strengthening partnerships with countries of origin and transit in the EU’s immediate neighborhood and beyond — is its ground floor. The second floor relates to policies to fortify and improve the management of the EU’s external borders. The third floor proposes rules to resolve the long-standing challenge within the EU to achieve a more balanced distribution of responsibilities and promote solidarity among EU members in dealing with asylum seekers and refugees.

Great-Power Politics Is Back

By Thomas de Waal

After weeks of brutal and bloody fighting between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in and around the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, a halt has been called. Facing defeat, the Armenian side has more or less capitulated. Russian peacekeepers are already arriving to enforce a new peace deal.

It is a pivotal moment. The military and political map of the South Caucasus region has changed fundamentally. Lives have been saved. Hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani refugees, displaced by the conflict in the late 1980s and early ’90s, can celebrate at the possibility of going home. But Armenians are shattered and fearful.

And the geopolitical picture is not so pretty: This is a deal brokered by two big autocratic neighbors, Russia and Turkey, that can now use it to pursue their own self-aggrandizing agendas. For them this is about troops and transport corridors, not people. The United States, despite being an official mediator, along with European countries, is being kept at bay, paying the price for years of not engaging with the conflict.

EU-Russia relations and the crisis in Belarus: toward a more “geopolitical” Europe?

Although “business as usual” has not resumed between Brussels and Moscow since the conflict over Ukraine erupted into war in 2014, some have suggested that EU-Russia relations have gradually settled into a new normal. While EU unity continues to be maintained with respect to sanctions, Brussels appears at the same time to have adopted a more restrained approach to relations with countries in Russia’s so-called near abroad, having negotiated a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Armenia compatible with Yerevan’s obligations as a member of the Moscow-backed Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Nonetheless, the current situation in Belarus has highlighted the fragile state in which the European security order still finds itself, with Russia continuing to prioritize the dynamic of its rivalry with the West over a genuinely collective approach to problem-solving. Although Brussels and Moscow share an interest in a managed transition away from Alexander Lukashenko, clashing visions of the regional order continue to militate against substantive EU-Russia cooperation aimed at buttressing regional security and advancing the interests of the Belarusian people. Opponents of the Lukashenko regime and EU leaders alike may insist that the current crisis is not about geopolitics, but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that geopolitics remains an inevitable and central consideration overshadowing EU-Russia relations in the shared neighbourhood. In the context of a shifting global order, this leaves EU members – and France in particular – with difficult decisions to make regarding how to balance resolve and dialogue in their relationship with Russia.

Military Review, November-December 2020, v. 100, no. 6

o History and Heritage in the Operational Force: An Action Plan

o Denuclearization through Peace: A Policy Approach to Change North Korea from Foe to Friend

o Finding the Enemy on the Data-Swept Battlefield of 2035

o The Human–Machine Paradox: A Balanced Approach to Finding and Fixing in 2035

o The Ostrich Complex and Leadership in Crisis

o Great Staff Officers and Great Commanders: What’s the Difference?

o Multi-Domain Operations and Information Warfare in the European Theater

o Leading the Change to Holistic Health and Fitness

o Older Than You Realize: Teaching Branch History to Army Cyberwarriors

o The Fourth Domain

o Chinese Soft Power: Creating Anti-Access Challenges in the Indo-Pacific

o Discipline as a Vital Tool to Maintain the Army Profession

o Gods of War: History’s Greatest Military Rivals

We’ll Need More Than One Vaccine to Beat the Pandemic

Adam Rogers

On Monday, a press release from the transnational pharmaceutical company Pfizer dropped a rare spark of hope into the ongoing misery of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yes, new infections have hit an all-time high in the United States, and, yes, cities and states around the world are walking back their reopenings. But Pfizer says it has results from a massive clinical trial showing that its vaccine against the disease works, and works well. The release touted “a vaccine efficacy rate above 90 percent,” and it announced the company’s intention to seek from the US Food and Drug Administration an authorization to start giving people shots. The company’s ready to make 50 million doses this year and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Living With the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty: First, Do No Harm


Now that fifty countries have ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), it will enter into force in January 2021.

The treaty proclaims that signatories will “never under any circumstances develop, test, produce, manufacture, or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” Allies are specifically prohibited from stationing or deploying nuclear weapons from other states. 

Here’s the rub: since the 1950s, at least five NATO states have hosted U.S. nuclear weapons on their territory as part of the alliance’s collective security strategy. Many fear—and some hope—that public and parliamentary support for the treaty will drive Germany, the Netherlands, and perhaps others to quit hosting these weapons.

The German government has committed to update the aircraft necessary to deliver U.S.-supplied nuclear bombs, if called upon. But if the Social Democratic Party and the Green Party gain power and Germany joins the prohibition treaty, the country’s nuclear deterrent role would seem to be precluded. All of this could create a crisis in and around NATO, while leaving Russia unbothered in building up its regional nuclear forces. 

Outgoing Syria Envoy Admits Hiding US Troop Numbers; Praises Trump’s Mideast Record


Four years after signing the now-infamous “Never Trump” letter condemning then-presidential candidate Donald Trump as a danger to America, retiring diplomat Jim Jeffrey is recommending that the incoming Biden administration stick with Trump’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

But even as he praises the president’s support of what he describes as a successful “realpolitik” approach to the region, he acknowledges that his team routinely misled senior leaders about troop levels in Syria. 

“We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” Jeffrey said in an interview. The actual number of troops in northeast Syria is “a lot more than” the roughly two hundred troops Trump initially agreed to leave there in 2019. 

Trump’s abruptly-announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria remains perhaps the single-most controversial foreign policy move during his first years in office, and for Jeffrey, “the most controversial thing in my fifty years in government.” The order, first handed down in December 2018, led to the resignation of former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It catapulted Jeffrey, then Trump’s special envoy for Syria, into the role of special envoy in the counter-ISIS fight when it sparked the protest resignation of his predecessor, Brett McGurk.

Cyber Security Becoming a Critical Component Of National Security

Khushhal Kaushik

While Internet was first developed as part of a country’s national defence project, the same technologies have increasingly become the cornerstone of our everyday personal and professional lives. However, the widespread usage and the sheer ubiquity of the cyber world have also triggered questions on cyber security in a way engineering a ‘back to defence’ project. Because such defence and security initiatives are mostly conceptualized and led at the level of the national governments, they inevitably and organically become a critical component of national security. And national security is a broader all-encompassing term most commonly embodying the military aspects and understood as such; it also intersects with economic and financial security, health security, among several others. That critical national infrastructure (both defence and non-defence) including sensitive government and public assets and installations are all inter-linked through Internet thereby being increasingly susceptible to predatory cyberattacks, cyber security has become an integral part of national security.

A 2017 Symantec report had described India as the second most targeted country and third most in terms of detection of attacks. In recent months, a Kaspersky report showed India facing a 37 per cent rise in cyberattacks in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the previous quarter. Furthermore, it was reported in June that there had been a whopping 500 per cent surge in cyber security attacks since the lockdown.

The World Is Tackling Climate Change, With or Without America


In June 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he intended to take the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change—one of many indications that the country was vacating its leading role as a supporter of multilateralism and the norms-based order. In July of the same year, the world’s biggest iceberg ripped from the Antarctic shelf and started drifting in the Scotia Sea, south of Chile.

On November 4, 2020, as the world still anxiously awaited the results of the American elections, the United States officially left the Paris Agreement. Concurrently, the same A68a iceberg entered its final collision course with the British overseas territory of South Georgia. The iceberg is now most likely days away from an irremediable crash into the island and its biodiverse colonies of penguins and seals. And at nearly the same time, a message was just literally released from the Arctic. On Sunday, November 1, a time capsule that an icebreaker had placed in the ice floe in 2018 was just found in the northwestern tip of Ireland. It contained the following message: “Everything around is covered by ice. We think that by the time this letter will be found there is no more ice in the Arctic unfortunately.”

The situation is not that bad yet. But scientists have just had a panicked realization that the Arctic is, for the first time in recorded history, not yet freezing this year and leaving open waters in the Laptev Sea.

Just Stopping Emissions May No Longer Be Enough to Stop Global Warming

Drew Costley

Earlier this year, the Earth saw a huge dip in carbon emissions as nations around the globe locked down to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It offered a glimpse into what the world might look like if we took drastic steps to reduce our carbon emissions to slow the spread of global warming: For a brief moment, smog-choked cities around the world had clear skies.

But according to a new modeling study published in Scientific Reports today, even if we made such drastic reductions permanent, it would still not be enough. The study suggests that if we stopped all human-made greenhouse gas emissions immediately, the Earth’s temperatures would continue to rise because of self-sustaining melting ice and permafrost. These “feedback loops” — in which melting ice causes less sunlight to be reflected back into space, which in turn raises temperatures and causes more ice melt — have already been set into motion, the researchers argue.

Humanity “is beyond the point-of-no-return when it comes to halt the melting of the permafrost using greenhouse gas cuts as the single tool,” Jørgen Randers, PhD, professor emeritus of climate strategy at BI Norwegian Business School and lead author of the study, tells Future Human in an email.

The Brilliant Scientist Who Stopped the Roman Army

Mythili the dreamer

I am sure every history buff worth his/her salt would remember the Second Punic war fought between Rome and Carthage.

It was a war that is completely overshadowed by the great Carthaginian general Hannibal who invaded Italy scored emphatic victories at Lake Trasimene and Cannae before his eventual defeat at the hands of the Roman general Scipio Africanus in 202 B.C.

That said, an often-overlooked battle that nearly frustrated Rome for two years was the Siege of Syracuse, from 213–212 BC. This battle was a special one. This was a battle between military might and the brilliance of science. The brute Roman military strength was led by the great general Marcus Claudius Marcellus and his massive army was opposed by the brilliance of one man, Archimedes whose superior technological inventions stopped the Romans dead in their tracks.

Marcellus knew that the source of all his problems was only one ‘local engineer’ who had been orchestrating Syracuse’s staunch resistance and frustrating the Romans again and again. He was bitterly angry but at the same time had great respect for his legendary foe who was one of the greatest of minds in the ancient world. Archimedes was a man whose mind reached far beyond his times.

The Mysterious Death of Genghis Khan

Andrei Tapalaga 

There is no precise data on Genghis Khan’s death. The famous 13th-century navigator Marco Polo wrote that Genghis Khan died from a poisoned arrow in the knee. The pope’s envoy to Mongolia, returning to Rome, informed the pontiff that the conqueror had been struck by lightning. The official version of the conquerer's death is related to his serious illness after he fell from his horse during a hunt. No one knows where the great Genghis Khan was buried.

Marco Polo wrote in his book:

“All the great rulers, descendants of Genghis Khan, are buried on the great Altai mountain, and wherever one of the great leaders of the Tartars died, even if it would take a hundred days to bring to this mountain, to bury him, here they will bring him. A strange thing about this tradition is the fact that the soldiers who brought the bodies of the great innkeepers to the mountains were then killed, being told: “Go and serve our leader!”. The main sources from which we can find out details about Genghis Khan’s life and personality appeared after his death.

The Professor and the Politician

By Corey Robin

The professor and the politician are a dyad of perpetual myth. In one myth, they are locked in conflict, sparring over the claims of reason and the imperative of power. Think Socrates and Athens, or 

If he hopes to “achieve what is possible,” Max Weber argued, the politician must “reach for the impossible.”Photograph from Zuma / Alamy

The sociologist Max Weber spent much of his life seduced by this second fable. A scholar of hot temper and volcanic energy, Weber longed to be a politician of cold focus and hard reason. Across three decades of a scholarly career, in Wilhelmine and Weimar Germany, he made repeated and often failed incursions into the public sphere—to give advice, stand for office, form a party, negotiate a treaty, and write a constitution. His “secret love,” he confessed to a friend, was “the political.” Even in the delirium of his final days, he could be heard declaiming on behalf of the German people, jousting with their enemies in several of the many languages he knew. “If one is lucky” in politics, he observed, a “genius appears just once every few hundred years.” That left the door wide open for him.

Warfare State

If​ you’ve been following White House briefings and mainstream US media over the past four years, you could be forgiven for thinking that Trump has radically rewritten US foreign policy. In fact, despite Trump’s pledges to extract American soldiers from foreign conflicts, troop numbers have barely fallen overall and have risen in the Persian Gulf. The administration has been presented as ‘isolationist’ yet has agreed bilateral trade deals around the world and strengthened ties with Japan, Israel and Saudi Arabia – three traditional partners – while undertaking major war games against Russia and China. This year’s Defender Europe 20 would have been the US army’s largest exercise on the continent in 25 years if Covid-19 hadn’t limited its scope. It’s hard to detect any measurable change in approach. Even Trump’s attempt to pressure Beijing into abandoning industrial measures that allegedly give it an unfair advantage in international trade have ample precedent in Reagan’s 1980s trade war with Japan. If Trump can make any claim to uniqueness, it may be that, once his record on Covid-19 is factored in, he is the only postwar US president whose administration is responsible for the deaths of more Americans than foreigners. During this year’s presidential campaign, while the gap on domestic policy has widened, any hint of foreign policy differences between Trump and Biden has evaporated as they each homed in on the status quo. Both have promised to end America’s ‘endless wars’ even as they ratchet up their anti-China tirades and cling to the notion of America as leader of the free world.

The early years of US foreign policy were focused on dominating the North American landmass. Native populations were liquidated; vast territories were purchased from European states; border disputes were stitched up through legal manoeuvrings. The fledgling US state conducted a few experiments further afield.