In the pre-populist era, a few basic rules applied in Western democracies. In international crises, the hour of the executive came. In the face of external danger, people pulled together internally. The non-governing parties proved to be a loyal opposition: constructive, responsible and patriotic. It was no different in Berlin or London than in Washington.

In the USA, this rule no longer applies in the twin crises that the Ukraine and Gaza wars represent for the West. President Joe Biden demonstrated leadership with his response to Russian aggression and Hamas terror. In Europe, he put together a coalition to support Kiev and ensured unity in NATO. In the Middle East, he immediately assured Israel of support, relied on deterrence against Iran and then demanded military proportionality from Benjamin Netanyahu.

But Joe Biden is currently being crushed between the domestic and foreign policy fronts. The USA is threatening to fail as the leading power in the Western world because the Republicans believe they can make party political profit from it.

Crisis at the southern border

An absurd situation has arisen on the issue of military aid to Kiev. There are cross-party majorities in both chambers of Congress for a new aid package. The majority of Republican representatives and senators know that supporting Ukraine is in America's national interest, otherwise Vladimir Putin may feel emboldened to expand Russia's sphere of influence beyond Ukraine.

For months it looked as if the Republican congressional leadership would buy its approval through concessions from Biden on migration policy, also in order to accommodate its own party right, which is now openly isolationist. The president had actually long neglected the crisis at the southern border. The Republicans had an election year trophy to show for it. This is how politics has always been done in Washington.

Trump believes he doesn't need the trophy

This exchange deal has now fallen through. Donald Trump, who can no longer be denied the presidential candidacy after the first primaries in his party, has instructed the new speaker in the House of Representatives to let the deal fail. Biden had offered the conservatives the strictest migration reform in decades. But the former president believes the chaotic images from the Rio Grande will benefit him more than a trophy.

For Trump, who will be the actual Republican congressional leader for the next nine months, the blockade contains further added value: Without the migration deal, money for Ukraine will continue to be forthcoming. The former president, who once demanded information about Hunter Biden as campaign ammunition in return for military aid from Kiev, still has unfinished business with Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump doesn't care about the national interest, only his personal one. As re-elected president, he would like to lean over the map of Eastern Europe with Putin and, like the ministers of the European monarchs once did, redraw the borders.

Caught between Republicans and left-wing Democrats

Part of the deal would also have been aid money for Israel. The fact that the Republicans are now accusing the Democrats of not supporting their closest ally in the Middle East cannot be surpassed in terms of cynicism. Biden, who is increasingly drawn into conflict with militias loyal to Iran in the Red Sea and the Syrian-Iraqi border area, finds himself in a sandwich situation: Republicans, whose core clientele are zealous evangelicals, accuse him of doing too little for Israel . And left-wing Democrats are calling on him to abandon his unconditional support for Netanyahu.

A part of his electorate is threatening to refuse to vote for him in November. Comparisons are already being drawn to Jimmy Carter, whose term ended with the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian hostage crisis. Putin, Netanyahu and the mullahs in Tehran are Trump's best election aides. It remains to be seen whether his calculations will work out: his game is certainly transparent.

For Europe and also for Germany, a return of Trump would be the end of all certainties. In terms of security policy, we are not even remotely prepared for this – despite the turning point. In retrospect, the Biden years would have to be seen as a waste of time. In Brussels and Berlin people simply hope that the democrat will pull it off again. That can certainly be the case. But Trump's heirs are likely to have the say in the Senate. The gradual withdrawal of the USA continues.