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Allies fear the US is becoming less reliable, with growing concern over a possible Trump return – Orange County Register

By JILL LAWLESS (Associated Press)

LONDON (AP) — As chances rise of a Joe Biden-Donald Trump rematch in the U.S. presidential election, America’s allies are bracing for a bumpy ride.

Many worry that a second term for Trump would be an earthquake, but tremors already abound — and concerns are rising that the U.S. could grow less dependable regardless of who wins. With a divided electorate and gridlock in Congress, the next American president could easily become consumed by manifold challenges at home — before even beginning to address flashpoints around the world, from Ukraine to the Middle East.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent verdict was blunt: America’s “first priority is itself.”

The first Trump administration stress-tested the bonds between the U.S. and its allies, particularly in Europe. Trump derided the leaders of some friendly nations, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s Theresa May, while praising authoritarians such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. He has called China’s Xi Jinping “brilliant” and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán “a great leader.”

In campaign speeches, Trump remains skeptical of organizations such as NATO, often lamenting the billions the U.S. spends on the military alliance whose support has been critical to Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion.

He said at a rally on Saturday that, as president, he’d warned NATO allies he would encourage Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to countries that didn’t pay their way in the alliance. Trump also wrote on his social media network that in future the U.S. should end all foreign aid donations and replace them with loans.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that Trump risked endangering U.S. troops and their allies. “Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk,” he said in a statement Sunday.

Biden, meanwhile, has made support for Ukraine a key priority and moral imperative. But Biden’s assertion after his election in 2020 that “America is back” on the global stage has not been entirely borne out. Congressional Republicans have stalled more military aid for Ukraine, while America’s influence has been unable to contain conflict in the Middle East

Thomas Gift, director of the Centre on U.S. Politics at University College London, said that whoever wins the presidential race, the direction of travel will be the same – toward a multipolar planet in which the United States is no longer “the indisputable world superpower.”

Most allied leaders refrain from commenting directly on the U.S. election, sticking to the line that it’s for Americans to pick their leader.

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