On Thursday, May 19, 2016, the GMF Warsaw office held a public event titled “The U.S. Elections and the Future of American Leadership” that explored the possibilities of U.S. foreign policy and approaches to security following various outcomes of the upcoming elections. The American perspective was provided by Jeremy Shapiro, Director of Research at the European Council on Foreign Relations, with further outlooks provided by Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Director of GMF’s Paris office and Senior Transatlantic Fellow; Daniel Keohane, Senior Researcher at the Centre for Security Studies - ETH Zürich; and Bartosz Węglarczyk, Program Director at the Polish news site Onet.pl. The conversation was moderated by Michal Baranowski, Director of the GMF Warsaw office.
The discussion was opened with a comparison in fundamentals that the two presently front-running candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, have based their platforms on. It was noted that this sharp divide between isolationist and interventionist rhetoric in the same campaign has not been seen in decades in the United States. The panelists went on to discuss that in challenging many of the crucial deals and treaties upon which modern international security is founded, Mr. Trump’s rhetoric represents a fundamental dissatisfaction in U.S. leadership within the American public more so than a discontent with a particular president or administration. This was presented in contrast to predictions about foreign policy under a hypothetical Clinton administration, which would likely be less interventionist than President Obama’s foreign policy and lead “from the center” of the Alliance, according to the speakers.
The diversity of the speakers’ backgrounds provided for a dynamic conversation across a broad range of perspectives. A subsequent question-and-answer session delved further into expected outcomes of the U.S. elections and the consequences they may have on European politics and society in addition to security.