Especially amidst the pandemic, Nov. 3’s outcome will have starkly consequential geopolitical and commercial impact says Phil Lader, former U.S. ambassador to the UK and Clinton cabinet member who has served on boards of several international public companies, think-tanks and nonprofits. Here are some he says are particularly noteworthy:
Alliances, diplomacy and international institutions
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How will the next administration work with America’s traditional partners on such transnational matters as climate change, global health and food supply? Which threats to democracy and human rights — e.g., counterterrorism, cyberattacks, election interference, poverty reduction — might best be addressed through coalitions?
What are the merits and limits, respectively, of soft power and traditional might? How should authoritarian leaders be dealt with? What norms and initiatives can most effectively advance the United States’ standing and interests?
What costs of burden sharing — whether in military actions, peacekeeping, foreign aid, or otherwise — should American taxpayers be asked to bear? How can Washington balance the trade-off of investment in alliances and international organizations versus the costs of tragedies they might help avert?
How might public confidence in institutions be restored?
National security, defense and counterterrorism
How is America’s “national security” to be defined? Among its military, economic, cyber, R&D, nuclear proliferation, public health and other components, what priorities will be reflected in the president’s proposed budgets?
How should the U.S. proceed, or step back from, arms controls treaties? In what circumstances are military, naval, air and “boots-on-the-ground” troop deployments appropriate? To what degree should the Pentagon rely on artificial intelligence and autonomous systems? When might peacekeeping missions be extended or initiated? How will America engage in “gray zone activities” — those actions below the threshold of armed conflict, but requiring readiness and/or intervention? What should be done to restore other countries’ confidence in U.S. security and defense guarantees?
How does the U.S. government deal with non-state terrorist acts, at home and/or abroad? What are the American intelligence services’ most effective means to identify and deter threats without “crossing the line”? What level of increased domestic surveillance is acceptable? How can the United States combat weaponized “fake news,” strategic deception and cyberattacks utilized by its adversaries?
Environment, energy and climate change
What trade-offs will the president accept to ensure America’s energy independence as well as protect its natural resources? How will his administration’s regulatory policies balance science, Mother Nature and economic impact? What will be his commitment to sustainability and economic growth when they may seem to conflict?
How should climate change be addressed? What is the federal government’s proper role in advancing new technologies, supporting controversial energy sources, investing in infrastructure, and revising standards in manufacturing, power plants, and vehicles? Should the United States return to the Paris Climate Agreement – and if so, on what terms?
Trade and tariffs
Which current policies are unreasonably responsible for large trade deficits, constraints on U.S. industries and offshoring of American jobs? Which barriers to worldwide commerce should be revised? How far should America go to protect its economic interests without inviting trade wars? Might the U.S. reconsider participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership? What’s to be done about the World Trade Organization?
Global mobility and immigration
How should travel, immigration, deportation and visa policies be reformed and the United States’ strained immigration system be revised? What special considerations, if any, should be given to neighbors fleeing conditions in Mexico and Central America? What should be the fate of immigrants who remain in the United States without authorization?
Many of these questions will be continually reframed by ongoing news: the toll of COVID-19, undoubtedly; inflamed mass protests, possibly; further evidences of existing and rising inequality, certainly; artificial intelligence advances and technology spats, increasingly. Geopolitical uncertainty will therefore be an undercurrent of an untold number of corporate board agendas.