HCSS Digest

HCSS Digest | Week 45

November 6th 2020 - 10:00
HCSS Digest Week 45

What a week it’s been! Has all been said about the US elections? Probably not, but here’s an HCSS Digest recap of all our experts had to say – both before ánd after the elections.

HCSS Data scientist and expert on US politics Paul Verhagen was a much seen (and heard) guest in the media this week, where he commented on the latest developments, trends and polls of the US presidential elections.

Just nights before the U.S. elections, Paul was a guest in a podcast by the Jonge Atlantici, discussing polling data and the electoral process. What is the importance of data in elections? And why should we trust the polls this election cycle?

US political junkie that he is, Paul certainly had quite the busy and versatile week. From speaking for the local Labour Party in Den Bosch, to being a main guest in BNR Nieuwsradio’s Election Night, and in BNR’s Ask Me Anything, host Jörgen Raymann asked Paul – well, everything.

Yes, he was behind in the polls, but don't write off Donald Trump just yet, Han ten Broeke said last Sunday on WNL Op Zondag: "Trump is displaying a lot of energy, which is exactly what his supporters want to see. I think Biden will win in the end, but it’s gonna be very thrilling."

America first! Is the stance of this famous Trump slogan going to change if and when Biden takes power? According to Han ten Broeke not, he said at WNL Vandaag on election day: "Trump may be symbolic of a turning point, but he is nothing more than a symptom of something that has been taking place for a while now."

The results of the presidential election could lead to social unrest and further polarization in the US, which could also affect the relations in our country, Rob de Wijk warned on RTL Z television. A Trump victory could further fuel nationalism in Europe.

"It is a major fallacy of Europe in thinking that Biden will bring back the US to the way it was before," says Rob de Wijk in De Volkskrant. Biden may want to restore NATO, but only in exchange for European support for American interests in Asia. We no longer need to look to the US for moral leadership.

For the international order, the difference between President Trump or President Biden will not even be that big, Rob de Wijk stated in an interview with De Volkskrant. The liberal world order is already coming to an end, and there’s an increasing ambition within the EU to become a geopolitical player. A Trump victory would accelerate European integration as the EU looked to fill the gap left by a retreating America, while even a win for Biden would only slow the corrosion of American influence. ‘Biden has said that traditional alliances need to be strengthened,’ De Wijk continued. ‘That’s all very well, but what people often forget is that as vice-president under Obama, Biden was the architect of the reorientation of America towards Asia. Biden’s rhetoric may be different, but even under his presidency the relative importance of NATO to the Americans will diminish.’

Even a day after the elections, the result was far from clear. Who’s going to win, and how peacefully will that process be? In BNR’s De Finale, Rob de Wijk looked ahead at what’s to come in the next few days.

Han ten Broeke was a guest on Goedemorgen Nederland on WNL, the morning after. Of course, topic of conversation was the US elections, and the chaotic night and morning that followed: from Trump calling for a stop of the vote counting, to the deciding factor of the ‘swing states’, and from the unexpected high turnout of Trump voters, to the realization that whomever wins in the end, it really doesn’t matter all that much for a small country such as the Netherlands – but it does for the international order, for Europe and for NATO.

Was there anything else besides the US elections worth mentioning this week? Sure, how about China’s continuing rise to power? The terrorist attacks in Europe? Using agriculture for geopolitics? Or the Dutch Defense Vision 2035?

The Netherlands is a great power in the field of agri-food. We can leverage this position to influence the growing reach of autocratic countries such as China, says HCSS Deputy Director Michel Rademaker in his column in ESB, the trade magazine for economists.

In an interview with Shephard Media, HCSS Director of Research Tim Sweijs noted that the recently released Defence Vision 2035 foresees an armed forces that is technologically advanced, information-driven and a reliable partner, both nationally and internationally.

China is rapidly developing into a global power, which is radically changing the world. What does that mean for us? HP De Tijd interviewed 3 China experts, including Rob de Wijk. “We don’t even know how big China’s influence on Europe is at the moment, because we’re not even keeping track of that”, Rob said. “But the EU is becoming a powerhouse that Xi needs to take into account.”

Man of all trades Han ten Broeke also spoke about the recent terrorist attacks (“Europe need to defend itself against this radical Islamic terror, the time for tears is over, now is the time for deeds”) and about Twitter removing 90 Dutch QAnon- accounts (“Everyone is entitled to their own truth, but not everyone is entitled to their own facts. Facts are independent and must be able to be confirmed.”)

Is the US still a reliable military partner? President Trump sees nothing in deploying his military in distant lands. Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria; he would rather leave today than tomorrow. And if Biden becomes president and seeks our participation, should the Netherlands take part in new missions? Listen to Bernard Hammelburg and Peter Wijninga in the new episode of our BNR podcast De Strateeg and find out!

In other news...

HCSS is very proud to have Joris Teer join our team as a Strategic Analyst. Teer is particularly interested in Chinese foreign policy, and his research focuses on Europe-China relations, China’s relations with the Middle East, China’s energy transition and Chinese public diplomacy and soft power. Welcome to HCSS, Joris!

You won’t want to miss this! Are China and the U.S. careening towards conflict? What will it mean for Europe? ? Join our Webinar on November 16th for the launch of a special issue of Security Studies. Register now!

Based on his operational and strategic experiences in the past three decades, Dr. Frank G. Hoffman, US Marine Corp Lieutenant-colonel (Ret.) and strategic analyst, gave a fascinating webinar last week about the future of war. The webinar was hosted by The Royal Netherlands Society for Military Art and Science (KVBK), together with HCSS. You can now (re)watch it here on YouTube.

We also welcome Assistant Analyst Joris van Schie to the team, continuing the HCSS tradition of hiring people with the same name: we now have a double Joris, two Patricks and a trio of Pauls. Welcome to HCSS, Joris! 

Patrick Willemsen is the Communications Officer of HCSS, in charge of all communication, PR, publications, social media and press contacts, as well as special projects such as the BNR podcast De Strateeg.