The Impact of the 2024 Election on US Foreign Relations

As the U.S. presidential election draws closer to its Nov 5 deadline, campaigns are on, candidates trade barbs and citizens on all sides rally or succumb to existential dread. There is undeniably a lot at stake for this election; domestic issues like abortion or gun possession rights are highly contested, as well as hot international topics like the Israeli conflict, the Ukrainian war and Taiwanese relations. Of the main candidates left standing — Joe Biden, Nikki Haley and Donald Trump — all have varying stances and approaches to these contemporary and pressing global matters. It is important to understand how the choice of our next president-elect could massively influence global politics by dictating the stance of the United States on these matters. 


Perhaps the most relevant ongoing matter in recent years is the war in Ukraine. Current President Joe Biden’s stance on Ukraine is favorable to the independent nation, as he wants to continue to supply them with weapons to fuel their fight against the Russians. In December, he gave a speech calling on Congress to pass an aid bill for Ukraine, but every Republican senator voted against it. In perhaps an effort to appeal to this opposition, Biden intends to shift to a more defensive outlook on the war, as restricting the Russians’ advancements requires fewer weapons than defeating them. This neutral stance helps to illustrate Biden’s position on the issue, in that he expresses the desire to help Ukraine’s endangered democracy but not far enough to risk his political standing. If Biden were to win re-election, perhaps his stance would become more firm without this looming jeopardy. 

Trump, on the other hand, seems to align more with the current Republican lawmakers in Congress. He has claimed that if he returns to the Oval Office he would “resolve the war in Ukraine within 24 hours.” He has not detailed how he intends to do so, but Putin has reportedly made it clear he is holding out for a Trump presidency to conduct talks, as Trump is expected to be more open to a favorable arrangement for Putin than other U.S. presidential candidates or the EU would be otherwise. Thus, a Trump win would probably result in talks with Putin and maybe an attempt at a peace agreement between the countries that favor Russian interests more heavily. 

Nikki Haley, the other Republican candidate, wholeheartedly stands with Ukraine and the ideal of democracy. In the (increasingly unlikely) case that she wins both the Republican primary and the presidential election, she has indicated she would move to provide large amounts of military aid to Ukraine. She has criticized Biden for not doing enough to support the cause and, like Trump, said the United States could give Ukraine the weapons necessary to beat Russia “tomorrow.” 

Israel-Hamas Conflict

In another pressing global conflict between Israel and Hamas, the candidates take on fairly consistent stances in contrast with their outlook on Ukraine. For Biden, this means striking a balance between two opposing political sides. At the start of the conflict, Biden backed Israeli retaliation and had the United States as only one of ten countries to vote “no” to a ceasefire in Dec 2023. However, left-leaning protesters have brought up issues of unnecessary violence against Palestinian citizens (who were not Hamas) by Israeli troops and called for Biden to change his position on the issue. In another effort to appease both sides, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urged him to revisit his strategy to limit the loss of innocent lives. Blinken said Netanyahu agreed to take steps to protect civilians, but the impact of this conversation on the fighting is yet to be seen. On Feb 4, Blinken returned again to the Middle East to push for a ceasefire deal and try to quell tensions in the region. Once again, Biden is trying to strike a balance between the two parties, respecting his relations with Israel and their right to supposedly defend themselves and the more left-leaning of his supporters who call for the protection of innocent Palestinian citizens. 

On this matter, Trump simply said, “Hamas would not have attacked Israel if [he]were president.” What this says of his political strategies toward the conflict is unclear, but he says he would “get it solved very fast” as president. He also pins the Hamas attack on Iran and says he would deal with Iran as the root of the issue. To extrapolate from his party and his comments, a Trump presidency would likely be more sympathetic to Israel’s cause than the current Biden administration and would likely exert less oversight on Israel’s operations.

Again, similarly to Ukraine, Haley has a strong stance on the Israel/Hamas conflict. She stands with Israel the same way she stands with Ukraine and has said both were attacked by outside forces and should use every means necessary — including U.S. aid — to defend themselves from their attackers. During her term as Ambassador to the UN, she made the defense of Israel one of her defining causes. It is almost certain, then, that a Haley presidency would result in a stronger backing of Israel and fewer verbal restrictions on whatever violence Israel deems necessary. 


Finally, a third relevant foreign policy issue is Taiwan and its relation to the Chinese mainland.  Taiwan is an island off the south coast of China that claims democratic independence whereas Beijing claims it as part of China. Lai Ching-te just won Taiwan’s presidential election and Beijing worries he will establish a Republic of Taiwan and declare clear independence, which Lai says he would not do. The official U.S. stance since 1979, when Jimmy Carter switched loyalties from Taipei to Beijing, is that Taiwan is a part of China and not independent. However, the United States still maintains unofficial relations with the self-governed island and is its biggest arms supplier.  

Biden stands with this official stance and recently reiterated it publicly after the Chinese government criticized him for making comments that suggested he would defend Taiwan if it were attacked. He has friendly relations with Lai and recently increased arms sales to Taipei but still doesn’t want to provoke Beijing by doing anything more extreme. Like many of his other stances discussed above, Biden strikes a balance between two opposing positions to maintain Washington’s friendly relations with both Taiwan and Beijing. 

Trump, again, does not present a clear stance on the issue. When asked, he said it is “stupid” to give away your opinions and refused to directly comment. However, his actions and other words have presented two different possibilities. During his presidential term, he spoke on the phone with then-President Tsai Ing-wen, the first contact a U.S. leader had with a Taiwanese one since Carter made the official switch in 1979. However, when asked about it recently in terms of his potential upcoming term, he deflected and accused Taiwan of taking the semiconductor business away from the United States. This could be read as an unfavorable outlook on Taiwan and perhaps an inclination to Beijing’s point of view. This conflict is at more of a stalemate and would likely only be ignited if the United States were to supply more arms to Taiwan or act too favorable to the island’s interests of independence. So as long as Trump doesn’t declare independence for Taiwan, an ambiguous or even Chinese-leaning stance would not likely spark a conflict. 

In terms of Haley, she wants to take a stronger stance against Beijing and accuses China of threatening American security and prosperity. She wants to protect Taiwan the same way she wants to protect Ukraine and shield it from the global superpower — China. Her stance has more to do with Beijing and limiting its influence and status in the United States and over Taiwan. 

In all three cases, the candidates display pretty strong trends. Biden wishes to strike a balance between two extremes, which gives both sides a little of what they want but also satisfies neither. If elected, Biden could solidify his stances without the threat of reelection hanging over him. However, this moderate stance could remain, as a lot of his presidency and platform has been about uniting the parties to work together. The trend of Trump’s stances is that he doesn’t really have a stated position on the issue, but it can be extrapolated pretty closely to the current Republican party’s stance on the issue. Haley, in contrast to her competitors, has strong points of view on these three issues, all of which side with the entity she perceives to be under threat from another. She defends Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with the same vigor and almost ties the three together to be equivalent. 

Overall, each of these potential presidential outcomes will obviously have drastically different rippling impacts on global politics. From their platforms to their willingness and ability to make negotiations and legislation, each candidate would guide the United States down a different path.


Samantha Chapman

Samantha Chapman is a sophomre from Hawaii double majoring in International Relations and Writing for Screen and Television. Her interest lies in exploring human connections, whether that be through storytelling or navigating international dynamics. Samantha also loves learning languages, but is trying to mainly stick to French until she’s fluent before taking others up too seriously. She loves skiing and hiking (but is no expert), watching soccer, and driving with the windows down in her free time.