There is an even bigger threat to America’s global security in 2024 than the potential reelection of Donald Trump.

Our democratic allies in Europe and Asia watch with grim fascination — and our Russian and Chinese adversaries with satisfaction — as uber-partisan U.S. politics paralyze the American government.

Even more than fear of Trump, European leaders are openly voicing their worries about a superpower whose foreign policies are doomed to remain dysfunctional — no matter who wins in 2024.

Washington constantly seems on a deadline to prevent a GOP-led government shutdown — including last week — over federal funding bills in Congress. Confirmations of administration picks for top military posts or key ambassadorships are blocked interminably by MAGA members’ maneuvers.

Most disturbing, the GOP has tied aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan — three arenas of huge American concern where war is ongoing or threatens to erupt — to resolving the southern border crisis, one of the nation’s most divisive issues. MAGA House radicals appear ready to reject a likely bipartisan Senate compromise on border reform, preferring to block any coherent foreign policy.

Who can trust a U.S. government that behaves this irresponsibly?


Like Gulliver, the United States and its government have been hog-tied by small-sized, small-minded Lilliputians indifferent to anything but 2024 campaign ambitions and cues from the divider-in-chief.

It was instructive to watch as global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, wrestled last week with how to cope with a global superpower that is self-destructing. While pundits often deride the annual Davos meeting of heads of state, cabinet ministers, and CEOs as the playground of “global elites,” it provides an excellent barometer of international trends, as I found in the 13 years I attended.

Conservative Polish President Andrzej Duda, whom former President Trump praised when he visited Warsaw in 2019, refused to be drawn out when asked at a panel discussion whether he worried about another Trump victory. He stressed that Poland would work with any U.S. leader chosen in “a normal democratic election.”

But then Duda got down to what worried him most, openly expressing concern over unrest after the last U.S. presidential election. “That was a situation where potential stability in the United States could be upset,” he said. “This is something we could consider dangerous.” He added that Poland would like to see “calm” U.S. elections.

Imagine if Joe Biden wins a close 2024 election and Trump again refuses the results or ignites violence during the balloting. Or if Biden takes office, but MAGA representatives in a divided Congress continue to paralyze the government. Or if Trump wins, but as promised becomes a “dictator” on Day One and focuses his presidency on retribution and political purges.

Any of these scenarios would provide the coup de grâce to America’s historic place as the world’s most stable democracy. Any of them would destroy the U.S. capacity to adequately protect its citizens from the security challenges that loom — as a powerful China and a revengeful (if wounded) Russia pursue larger global roles at the expense of a flailing United States.


Even Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, waiting with the rest of the world to see if Congress will betray Kyiv by refusing to approve additional military aid, expressed more worry about U.S. dysfunction than who is chosen in 2024. “Whatever choice Americans make,” he said at the same Davos panel, “we will work with that reality. But frankly, I am more concerned with what happens on Day One.

“It really matters that the U.S. system remains focused, that America will not drown into domestic fights and spend political resources on fixing entirely interparty issues because America is important for global stability, and America will have to remain focused on global issues, of which Ukraine is one.”

Of course, Trump and his America First acolytes have made clear they don’t want to focus on global issues. The sad truth is that U.S. governmental dysfunction and internecine domestic warfare are key to Trump’s operating mode.

When Poland’s Duda spoke at Davos of wanting “more U.S. in a united Europe” and “more transatlantic cooperation in security, economic as well as military,” he must have known that Trump wants the opposite.

On Jan. 9, a top European Union official revealed that Trump had told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a meeting in 2020 that “NATO is dead” and “if Europe is under attack, we will never come to help you and to support you.” The official, Thierry Breton, was present at the meeting.

Trump remains falsely convinced that NATO somehow owes America hundreds of millions of dollars. He is also furious that some members fail to meet NATO’s goal of spending at least 2% of their GDP yearly on defense.


If strengthening NATO were Trump’s goal, he could continue to press individual members to increase their defense budgets, as many are now doing. Never has NATO been more essential to push back against the club of dictatorships — Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran — that are testing the West in Ukraine and in Asia.

However, Trump has no such intention. His former national security adviser, John Bolton, told the New York Times that “there is no doubt in my mind” that Trump would withdraw the United States from NATO in a second term.

“Dictators are making coalitions,” warned the exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at Davos, pleading against the appeasement of despots and urging more U.S. aid for Kyiv. She knows whereof she speaks: Vladimir Putin has essentially annexed her country, as he wishes to do with neighboring Ukraine.

But Trump has no interest in an alliance with European democracies or in helping Ukraine win. He has made clear he prefers to deal directly with dictators such as Putin. Never mind that the Russian leader, along with China’s Xi Jinping, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ran rings around Trump when he held power.

Even as European leaders fretted over U.S. dysfunction at Davos, a huge Chinese delegation spread out to present global south nations with an alternative governmental model to dysfunctional democracy.

Despite all the economic and military prowess of the United States, the Trump-led MAGA acolytes seem determined to prove the Chinese right.

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