Many are offering a grim roundup of the disappointment being felt by some leaders and governments because Donald Trump won’t have a second term in the White House. (Click here and here for some examples of the type of commentary I’m talking about.)
To which the right response is three-pronged and as follows: First, let’s not get carried away. Yes, it’s true that leaders such as Jair Bolsonaro, Narendra Modi, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mohammed bin Salman, Benjamin Netanyahu and Viktor Orban may feel upset there won’t be another four years of Mr Trump’s transactional, might-is-right, values-free approach to policy, politics and international affairs. However, any disappointment felt by Brazil, India, Turkey, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia is surely just a fraction of the anxiety and sadness experienced by much of the world when Mr Trump won in 2016.
Second, any disappointment felt by the leaders of some countries is outweighed by the great joy felt by much of the world that Mr Trump lost his bid for re-election.
Third and most importantly, consider the pragmatism displayed by many from within the club of the disappointed. Mr Modi, Mr Orban, Mr Netanyahu and the Saudi King and Crown Prince have congratulated President-elect Joe Biden. While it makes sense to note the restraint with which they did so, it’s equally important to think of the gritted-teeth congratulations that poured in for Mr Trump four years ago.
This speaks to a simple truth. To paraphrase Jaques in ‘As You Like It’, on the world stage, men and women leaders are merely players; they have their exits and their entrances.
It’s par for the course.