US election: the world is waiting for Biden to beat Trump and change the course of US foreign policy

US election: the world is waiting for Biden to beat Trump and change the course of US foreign policy

  • The two-act plot of November’s presidential election must play out before US foreign policy can reboot, leading to an enervating waiting game
  • The best that even thoughtful US observers can do for now is to wait for whoever or whatever is to come, as few dare to predict beyond November

Almost everyone is waiting, but waiting for what? We are trying to imagine that it’s really not as bad as it seems. The Zoom boom, after all, lifts some of the gloom. The other day, I found myself in successive internet meetings but nice and relaxed in little more than a gardener’s garb.

Except for the occasional audio blip or focus flicker, the screen sessions – though lacking the ineffable feel of human touch – sufficed. The usual annoying interruptions and talking over each other were minimised; one could complete whole sentences, sometimes a slew of them. Maybe this technology somehow gets us down to business by cutting out some of the nonsense?

Last week, a pair of confidential trans-Pacific teleconferences came up on my work list that had similar endings. One hooked into a private conference originating from Seoul; the other starred a sharp woman in Beijing.The former, attended by policy heavyweights, focused on the dilemma of the two Koreas and the United States. The other, with a smaller group from Beijing, asked what US-China policy will be like in a different administration. At both, everyone was waiting – as if waiting for Godot.

Remember that renowned play by Samuel Beckett? Minimalist art at its most minimal, the play’s spare two-act plot revolves around two guys waiting for someone named Godot to arrive. That reminded me of last week’s meetings. In both, the same exact phrase surfaced: “Of course, we’re all just waiting…”