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Thomas O. Falk
Thomas O. Falk
Thomas O. Falk is a journalist. He writes about German, British, and US politics.

US President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address was received positively and shows he has what it takes to beat Donald Trump. Biden must address tangible issues such as the economy to win over rural Americans but can run on restoring abortion rights.

While previous US leaders have at times expressed frustration with the alliance, they also regularly affirmed their commitment to Nato and its pledge of collective defence. Not so Trump, who neither cares for Nato nor understands that deterrence won’t work if a key member cannot be trusted to enforce the line.

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With his decisive win in Iowa, Trump has secured the Republican nomination in all but name. With neither impeachment nor 91 criminal charges denting his popularity with voters, it is clear that his ‘Make America great again’ brand of politics will become a party staple.

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Any potential damage to Trump supporters’ faith in democracy is by far the lesser evil compared to the damage he will do if he becomes president again. If one believes Trump has betrayed the country – and he did – then politics should not stop the law from holding him accountable for his crimes.

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More voters see Biden as doing too much for the likes of Ukraine and not enough for the US economy, which could help Trump return as president – and risk democracy and the global order. Biden must prevent this at all costs.

EU-China relations have deteriorated since the pandemic over matters such as human rights, trade disputes and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This week’s summit offers both sides a chance to remember how much they need each other and would be better off working together.

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The news that a parliamentary research fellow has been arrested on suspicion of being a Chinese spy has sparked intense concern in Britain. Rishi Sunak’s government, now battling for survival amid an economic crisis at home, will be under pressure to make political capital out of the scandal.

With polls suggesting Americans want neither Biden nor Trump as president, popular California governor Newsom could be the Democrats’ saviour. Given his pro-China stance, a Newsom run could also be a blessing for Beijing.

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The US president is beginning to promote Bidenomics as his success story, an important step as his economy has yet to win over American voters. In the coming year, he must not only continue his impactful economic policies but make them understandable to persuadable voters.

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Taken at face value, the strategy offers a welcome dose of reality, but the lack of specificity and the repetition of mantras suggests it heralds little change. Instead, Germany appears content to continue the Sino-German status quo while trying to appease the US with harsh criticism of China.

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Awkward and aloof, DeSantis is not seen as being tough or mean enough to take on the force of personality that is Donald Trump. In primaries, being ready for prime time matters; DeSantis is not. And the Republican base still loves Trump.

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Americans have made it clear they would prefer neither of the two most recent US presidents in 2024, but no viable alternatives seem to exist. Given Donald Trump’s many faults and legal troubles, appearing semi-coherent and a somewhat stable economy could be enough to carry Joe Biden to victory.

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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock may be taking a hard line on China, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz will have the final say. Scholz is aware that the economic reality simply does not allow him to meet Baerbock and her party’s demands on China.

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The main issue surrounding the former US president’s arraignment is the damage being done by his railing against public institutions. Faith in the criminal justice system has suffered greatly from his continuous attacks over the years, giving Trump exactly what he wants.

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With both expected Republican presidential candidates opposing continued US support for Ukraine, Putin now has hope that the Western alliance will shatter. But if America allows Putin to destroy Ukraine and not pay the price, these Russian tactics will spread and become the new normal.

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Gaffe-prone and uninspiring, Biden has the resume but not the ability to convince Americans nor win his party’s support for re-election. And this time, his likely competitor is popular Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

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Germany’s leader Olaf Scholz has long resisted calls for the country to provide Ukraine with more military support, citing the risk of escalation. An about-face was inevitable given the hollowness of this excuse, but the delay has hurt Scholz’s leadership and Germany’s reputation.

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If the European Union wants to be a viable actor in this emerging world order and not merely an appendage of one of the two superpowers, it must be able to protect itself instead of relying on outside help for its security.

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Hardline Republicans were able to repeatedly block Kevin McCarthy’s Speaker bid, forcing him to make heavy concessions. Their actions signal the triumph of an ultraconservative movement within the party that has been nurtured for decades.

The German chancellor has faced a series of challenges in his first year in office, putting his diplomatic skills and political pragmatism to the test. His efforts to defend German interests and compete for the leadership of Europe have drawn the ire of allies and muddled European policy.

Faced with an ailing economy and weary public, new UK leader Rishi Sunak has signalled that he won’t risk upsetting valuable trade ties with Beijing. But this stance comes at a delicate time internationally, and in his own party Sunak must contend with an increasingly vocal anti-China faction.

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Trump’s candidacy was expected, but his star shines less brightly these days and Republicans have a viable alternative in DeSantis. Trump bowing out for the good of the party is unlikely, raising the prospect of another clash between MAGA Republicans and the party establishment.

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The German chancellor’s meeting with Xi Jinping charted a path for limiting dependency on China without decoupling. Unconvinced, however, are Scholz’s own coalition members, who want a complete restructuring of Sino-German relations.

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After half a century of mutually beneficial Sino-German ties, Berlin and Beijing find themselves on opposite sides of the geopolitical divide. With Germany taking aim at China over Xinjiang and Taiwan, it appears to be choosing idealism over pragmatism – a stance that is unlikely to pay dividends.

Despite promising to be an antidote to Trump in 2020, Biden has been clinging to his predecessor’s policies, with protectionist laws like the Inflation Reduction Act. Granted, Biden is being squeezed by economic crises and the prospect of a 2024 Trump return, but his claim that ‘America is back’ should be more than a slogan.

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Despite her campaign rhetoric, Truss understands that the UK cannot just blindly follow US policy on China. With debt-laden Britain outside the EU and facing a recession, she can ill afford to dismiss the economic benefits of more pragmatic ties with Beijing.

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While Trump and the Republican Party have traditionally presented themselves as advocates of law and order, they have now chosen to attack law enforcement. Without the constraints of office, Trump has been a loose cannon, inclined to further widen the rift within the country to benefit himself.

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Unlike Brussels, Beijing does not see Africa as a problem but as a continent of opportunity. China is creating visible change on the continent while Europe, with its paternalistic behaviour and insistence on applying its own values, is struggling to make much impact.

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China is not Russia. Its economic ties with Germany run far deeper, and Germany needs good relations with Beijing to retain its leading position in Europe.

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