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15 days ago

Presidential debates and win-loss matrix

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In an era of showmanship, debates between contenders of the world's most powerful position cannot be dismissed as a verbal contest. It is much more than that. The Thursday's debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump has been held much too early. Their candidatures are yet to be finalised. It has been held on the presumption that the two will get the nomination at their respective party conventions.

This time the presidential debate also breaks with the tradition set since 1988 of three such face-offs between presidential nominees overseen by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates with both sides complaining against it. The Trump camp brings charges of its biasness against the Republicans and close advisers to Biden considers commission procedures 'outmoded and fussy'. Only two such debates were agreed upon. The next debate is scheduled to be held on September 9 next.

The Thursday's debate was comprehensively clinched by Donald Trump as Biden fumbled, raising the question if the 81-year-old is too old for the Oval office. Against Trump's sharpness, Biden was slow and out of sorts. There have been calls from his Democratic Party for fielding a younger candidate after the poor show by Biden. When Biden had opportunities to pounce on Trump for the latter's Capitol Hill misadventure and felony convictions and other court trials, he had difficulty finding the right words and looked confused.

This debate alone cannot guarantee Trump's win in the presidential race but it will certainly give him and his Republican Party some mileage. Biden will have another shot to amend for his lapses on September 9 when the American Television Network (ABC) will host the second and final round of debate. The problem with the United States of America is that no political party other than the bipartisan rivalry between the Republican and Democratic Party has been able to challenge them. So, the American voters have to choose between either an erratic personality accused of undermining democratic procedures and an octogenarian frail person for their president.

This election, therefore, has the potential of decisively transform the world order if Trump, in particular, emerges victorious. He has indicated that he will not continue to help Ukraine in its war against Russia. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) may not remain the same with Trump coming to power. This may prompt reorganisation of the NATO with far-reaching consequences---both negative and positive. For Ukraine it is likely to be completely disastrous but the world may avoid the rising tension between Russia-China-North Korea axis and Western alignment.

Trump declared several times in the past that he would be able to stop the war between Russia and Ukraine. If his mediation helps bring about a permanent ceasefire between these two warring nations with debilitation of the NATO following US nominal participation or withdrawal, Ukraine may still survive and the world stands a very good chance of resting in peace. Wins in elections for far right political parties in Europe may complete the process. Trump may be a threat to what many of his compatriots  consider US values, principles and strong points but his rallying cry "Make America Great Again", used first by Ronald Reagan, reverberates across that country.

De-escalation of military confrontation between rivals possessing intercontinental ballistic missiles courtesy of attention to home affairs by Biden's predecessor can thus avoid a possible world war. However, in case of Gaza conflict, Trump may be more unforgiving than Biden. Also, the unpredictability of his nature will always keep his countrymen and the rest of the world community guessing about his next move. Yet his second term of presidency, if he is elected, is more likely to be either tumultuous or stable depending on his success in advancing American economic and business interests vis-a-vis that of China. Particularly so, when the latter is growing militarily powerful and rehearsing for annexation of Taiwan and claiming its sole right to the South China Sea.

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