May 15, 2019. Come November 3, 2020, the world will learn, with bated breath, whether the 46th United States president will emerge - or not. It is barely eighteen months away from the next U.S. presidential election and already, some countries could have already begun the countdown, wishing the elections would come sooner.
Within a short span of the past four weeks, the United States has escalated the trade war with China while still engaged in retaliatory tariff tit-for-tats with Mexico, Canada and the European Union. In the same period, the United States has also increased sanctions on Iran and deployed a carrier strike group to the Gulf, provoking hostile tensions in the Middle East, while shrugging off a series of missile tests by North Korea whose nuclear deal negotiations with Trump, after two unprecedented summits, has stalled.
At eighteen months out and with rising economic and military tensions on multiple fronts, Trump's re-election campaign is exactly right on schedule. There is enough runway for him to exert his "maximum pressure" strategy to force opposing countries to quickly capitulate and comply and ratchet up early wins to build up momentum on the path to re-election. However, if these trade and military tensions drag on, then the opposing countries gain the advantage of time and earn the option of waiting for Trump's term to run out and try for a better deal with the next U.S. president.