LONDON - Whether foreign leaders are hopeful or horrified by the possibility of Donald J. Trump returning to the White House, the prospect is so ingrained in their minds that they have hedged bets on diplomacy, safety, and where they invest.
The indictment of Mr. Trump on criminal charges last week in New York did not seem to have changed these calculations.
Diplomats and experts in foreign policy have seen Mr. Trump recover from so many disasters that they are now approaching a sense of fatalism when it comes to his political resilience. This is particularly true in Europe where leaders endured four years of Mr. Trump's hectoring over issues such as climate change and military spending.
Many worry that Mr. Trump will be replaced with any number of Trump like alternatives. The Republican Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis is one of the most prominent examples.
Wolfgang Ischinger said that if Trump was really history, then many Europeans would sleep better. He ran the Munich Security Conference from 2022 to 2024. But the fear that Trump sparked six years ago will not go away.
What if the isolationist Virus Trump released continued to infect all other candidates? Ischinger stated. What if Republicans nominated another isolationist candidate to the presidency instead of Trump? What if this candidate wins?
DeSantis, a leading candidate for the Republican nomination to succeed Mr. Trump, described the war between Russia and Ukraine as a territorial dispute. This heightened fears. Later, he retracted the comment after intense criticism by fellow Republicans.
His remark echoed the casual way Mr. Trump treated the Russian invasion. However, it was more impactful in European capitals, due to the heavy reliance of Europe on American diplomatic and military support in order to maintain an united resistance against Russian aggression.
Kim Darroch said that Trump is no longer a unique phenomenon. He has created a new generation of Trumps, Trumplites and mini-Trumps.
"So, if you think that isolationism in America is increasing, or if it's convenient for you to assert this, then you don't need to blame Trump," said Darroch. He was forced to quit his Washington post after the leak of critical cables about Trump's administration in 2019. There are many alternatives.
This is not to say Mr. Trump does not remain a unique figure or that his legal woes do no attract attention overseas. The lurid allegations that 'hush-money' was paid to a pornographic actress in the case against the former President is a spectacle only seen in America. It makes for great tabloid headlines.
The Daily Star in London titled a collage of photos that were not flattering of Donald Trump, accompanied by a background used for mugshots. The Times of London said that Trump would not accept being handcuffed in an article published on Saturday. It included an interview with Stormy, the actress who claimed to have had a relationship with Donald Trump. She received payments from his lawyer for her silence.
The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper with a right-leaning, focused its attention on the positives for Mr. Trump and his political base of hard-righteous people, declaring that 'indictment is an opportunity for Trump'. The Daily Telegraph, which leans to the right, focused on Mr. Trump’s potential upside with his hard-right political base by declaring 'Indictment is a golden opportunity for Trump.
Darroch pointed out that only those who closely follow the Trump saga will realize that this could be the first indictment in cases of election interference and mishandling classified documents. Casual observers may dismiss it, focusing on Trump's lead over Republican rivals in the polls.
He said that part of the reason why some Europeans are promoting the idea that Mr. Trump has a resilient personality is because it advances their geopolitical agendas.
Some on the right in Britain openly yearn for Mr. Trump's return. He championed Brexit, and offered the prospect of a transatlantic trade agreement. While President Biden has a cordial relationship with Britain, he's not as gushing about it as Mr. Trump. Mr. Biden has decided to skip the coronation ceremony of King Charles III. This is the type of attention-grabbing, showy event that his predecessor would have enjoyed.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron pushed for European'strategic autonomy', the theory that Europe must defend itself independently from the United States. The derision that Mr. Trump has shown towards NATO is a major motivator. A second Trump term in which he could actually withdraw from the alliance would make this all but mandatory.
Middle East countries have also hedged their bets on Mr. Trump returning to power. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates invested in Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's former adviser and son-in law. Experts say that the investments reflect their desire to remain on good terms Mr. Kushner who is married to Ivanka Trump, Mr. Trump's youngest daughter.
Martin S. Indyk said that the Saudis are particularly betting on Trump's return or at least an American Republican president. The relationship between Biden, M.B.S. The relationship between Biden and M.B.S. Indyk's approach is to say, "Anyone but Biden."
Indyk was sceptical that the indictment would cause Arab leaders to change their calculus. He said that 'I don't think they have concluded yet that the indictment will eliminate Trump from the race'. If it happens, then it could open the door for another Republican to challenge Biden.
Analysts said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel would welcome Mr. Trump's return, not least of all because they both share similar problems. Both are facing legal charges. In Mr. Netanyahu’s case, allegations such as bribery and fraud, as well as breach of trust. He has been fighting these with an unpopular -- but now temporarily halted - attempt to exert greater control over the judiciary. As with Mr. Trump's accusation, Mr. Netanyahu also accused prosecutors to be waging an attack against him that was politically motivated.
The most immediate fallout of Mr. Trump's indictment is his unrelenting attack on the American legal systems, as well as the fact that so many Republicans have backed him up.
For adversaries such as Russia and China, however, the prospect that Mr. Trump would run for another term in office while defending himself against criminal charges plays into their narrative about American chaos and decline.
Evan S. Medeiros said that the Chinese would use this as a way to reinforce their argument that America's democratic dysfunction is to blame and that China's is a much better option.