I DON’T want to tempt fate and only the foolhardy make political predictions, but let’s say that US voters throw out Donald Trump in November’s presidential election.

Short of a vaccine for Covid-19 becoming available, Trump’s removal from office might be the only piece of good news many Americans can look forward to beyond the summer.

That said, there is every reason for caution over assuming Trump will find himself vacating the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue. We’ve been here before, after all, back in 2016. Lots of pundits called it wrong then, including a number of world leaders who blithely dismissed Trump’s chances of inhabiting the White House in the first place.

That said, if the latest polls are anything to go by then those within the Trump election camp are sure to be having a few sleepless nights right now.

Just yesterday the pollster Gallup showed that Trump’s approval rating slid to 39% in a poll taken between May 28 and June 4. Other polls draw similar conclusions. In short, it means that if the election were held today, Trump would likely lose.

Which brings us to the question of Joe Biden, the man most likely to succeed Trump as president. Regular readers of this column will likely know that I’m not a big fan of the man who was former vice-president under the Obama administration.

It’s not that Biden’s a bad guy as such. On the contrary, if you want a US president who has always positioned himself at the centre of the Democratic Party, then Biden’s your man.

To be fair, too, as the Democratic Party has moved left, so Biden in order to unite the party around him has made some positive progressive commitments. His proposed reforms of US labour policy are a point in case.

From his call for a $15 federal minimum wage, regarded as radical when Bernie Sander pushed for it four years ago, to giving teeth to legislation preventing companies from firing employees for forming a union, Biden has some admirable policies in the offing.

In other words, it’s not Biden’s domestic agenda so much that gives me cause for niggling concern as what he might do on the international front. The bottom line here is that Biden’s track record on foreign policy issues is erratic to say the least.

This, after all, is politician who voted against the 1991 Gulf War but in favour of the 2003 Iraq War. It’s a man who once said the “the Taliban per se is not our enemy”, and opposed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

My point is not whether these are right or wrong decisions, but that so often Biden lacks consistency. No-one would deny that an ability to change one’s mind is vital for any political leader wrestling with the ever-fluid nature of global diplomacy and foreign policy needs.

But on more than a few occasions Biden has shown himself to be out of step and his instincts flawed, especially on defence matters and when, where and if US intervention should take place.

It’s perhaps telling that while Biden served more than three decades in the Senate, including a stint as chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, he was seldom seen as a cohesive and canny force on US foreign and defence policy.

When compared, of course, to the loose cannon that is Trump over foreign policy matters, such concerns over what shape Biden’s approach could take might seem churlish or overwrought.

Looking at the post-pandemic world, however, and the strained relations between so many countries alongside a pressing need for greater international collaboration, such concerns should not be easily dismissed.

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THAT much was made clear in an interview with CNN last week given by Colin Powell, a former national security adviser and secretary of state in the George W Bush administration.

“We have done things that have offended just about everybody in the world ... our friends are distraught with us,” said Powell.

“Just about everywhere you go, you will find this kind of disdain for American foreign policy that is not in our interests, and we have to get on top of this. We have to start acting seriously,” he warned.

He’s right. Should Trump lose the presidency he will leave in his wake utter carnage from disputes with Nato, betraying allies like the Kurds, to withdrawing from climate agreements and the World Health Organisation.

If Biden’s foreign policy instincts have given cause for some concern in the past, then the good news is that he remains a US leader who as president would most likely return to working with allies and through multilateral institutions and honouring international agreements.

For some critics such a policy of “restoration”, as it’s been called, might not seem like much, or fail to take advantage of opportunities to improve or move forward. But again, compared to Trump, it would be a colossal step in the right direction and help begin recalibrating America’s role as a vital international player.

It goes without saying, of course, that a Biden victory would not of itself offer guarantees of change in the world. Dire US relations with China and Iran, the mess that is the wider Middle East and an uncompromising Russia will not simply disappear just because Joe Biden is in the White House. It is admittedly, though, difficult to imagine him doing a more botched job than Trump.

To that end Biden in the White House would be a welcome outcome even if question marks still hang over his foreign policy nous. Seen from a European perspective, his presidency would certainly be an opportunity to regalvanise the democratic values and level of international collaboration of which the US was and is a crucial part.

Writing earlier this week, the American journalist Barbara Crossette, UN correspondent for The Nation magazine, observed that the toughest task for Biden should he become president would be linking foreign policy to a changed America. I’ll go one step further than that and say that his toughest challenge would be linking it to a changed world. Then again, he still has to win that election in November at home first.