The authors of this collection consider the most pressing foreign policy challenges for the next US president, and examine how the outcome of the 2020 election will affect these. 

The president will determine how the US’s diplomatic, economic and military resources are invested, and what value the administration will attach to existing alliances and multilateral institutions. 

Whoever sits in the White House will shape the trajectory of the US–China relationship and the global economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as international cooperation on climate action, international trade and technology policy, and health.

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About the authors

Dr Leslie Vinjamuri is the director of the US and the Americas Programme and dean of the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs at Chatham House. She is a reader (associate professor) in international relations at SOAS University of London.

At Chatham House, Leslie leads (with Charles A. Kupchan) the Lloyd George Study Group on World Order, the 2020 US Elections project, and the US–China and Transatlantic Relations project (with Marianne Schneider-Petsinger). In her capacity as dean of the Academy, she oversees the fellowship programme and Next Generation UK work. Leslie writes and speaks about America’s role in the world, global governance, and human rights.

Previously, Leslie was on the faculty of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She has also worked in the Asia and Near East Bureau at the US Agency for International Development, and for the Congressional Research Service. She was a fellow at Harvard University’s John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies. She has a PhD from Columbia University. She is editor of Human Rights Futures (Cambridge University Press, 2017), together with Stephen Hopgood and Jack Snyder.

Professor Tim G. Benton is research director for Emerging Risks and leads the Energy, Environment and Resources Programme at Chatham House. He joined Chatham House in 2016 as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow, at which time he was also the dean of strategic research initiatives at the University of Leeds.

From 2011 to 2016 he was the ‘champion’ of the UK’s multi-agency Global Food Security programme.

He has worked with UK governments, the EU and the G20. He has been a global agenda steward of the World Economic Forum, and is a co-author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Food, Climate Change and Land (2019) and of the UK’s Climate Change Risk Assessment (2017, 2022).

Tim has published more than 150 academic papers, many of these tackling how systems respond to environmental change. His work on sustainability leadership has been recognized with an honorary fellowship of the UK’s Society for the Environment, and a doctorate honoris causa from the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

Dr Sam Geall is the executive director of China Dialogue, a non-profit that raises awareness of China’s environmental challenges, and an associate faculty member at the University of Sussex. His research focuses on climate policy and politics, the energy transition, and environmental governance in China, as well as the impact of Chinese investment through the Belt and Road Initiative. He edited China and the Environment: The Green Revolution (Zed Books, 2013).

Sam’s writing has appeared in many leading publications, including the Guardian, the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Index on Censorship and the Nikkei Asian Review.

Sam was formerly a departmental lecturer in the human geography of China at the University of Oxford. He has a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Manchester, a BA in modern Chinese studies from the University of Leeds, and was a Kennedy scholar at Harvard University. He is a fellow of the RSA and a senior visiting research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

Hans Kundnani is a senior research fellow in the Europe Programme at Chatham House.

Before joining Chatham House in 2018, he was Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

He is also an associate fellow at the Institute for German Studies at Birmingham University. In 2016 he was a Bosch Public Policy Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy in Washington, DC.

He is the author of The Paradox of German Power (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2014), which has been translated into German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.

Hans studied German and philosophy at Oxford University; and journalism at Columbia University in New York, where he was a Fulbright Scholar.

Amy Pope is an associate fellow with the US and the Americas Programme at Chatham House, and a partner at Schillings, a London-based law and consulting firm.

Formerly US deputy homeland security adviser to the president of the United States, Amy Pope was responsible for managing a range of high-profile, diverse challenges at the highest levels of US government, including its comprehensive effort to combat Zika virus, the Ebola virus and other public health threats.

Prior to joining the White House, Amy worked in several positions at the US Department of Justice and as counsel in the US Senate.

She is a senior non-resident fellow of the Atlantic Council and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, where she recently served on the Pandemic Task Force. She received her law degree from Duke University School of Law, and graduated in political science from Haverford College. She clerked for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Dr Christopher Sabatini is a senior fellow for Latin America at Chatham House, and was formerly a lecturer in discipline in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He is a frequent contributor to policy journals on issues related to Latin America and foreign policy.

In 2015, Chris founded and directed a new research non-profit, Global Americas, and edited its news and opinion website. From 2005 to 2014, Chris was senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, and the founder and editor-in-chief of the policy magazine Americas Quarterly. Prior to that, he was director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy, and a diplomacy fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, working at the US Agency for International Development’s Center for Democracy and Governance.

He has a PhD in government from the University of Virginia.

Marianne Schneider-Petsinger is a senior research fellow with the US and the Americas Programme at Chatham House, responsible for analysis at the nexus of political and economic issues. Before joining Chatham House in 2016, she managed the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue, an international membership body representing consumer organizations in the EU and the US. She also worked for a think-tank on transatlantic affairs in the US, and for the Thuringian Ministry of Economic Affairs in Germany. She is a regular speaker and panellist at events and conferences, as well as a guest commentator on broadcast news.

Marianne holds a BA in international affairs and economics from the University of Maine. She completed her master’s degree, focusing on international trade and finance, at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Dr Sanam Vakil is the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House, where she leads the Future Dynamics in the Gulf project and the Iran Forum. She is also the James Anderson Professorial Lecturer in the Middle East studies department at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS Europe) in Bologna, Italy.

From 2004 to 2007, she was an assistant professor of Middle East studies at SAIS Washington. She served as a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, also providing research analysis to the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa department. Sanam is the author of Action and Reaction: Women and Politics in Iran (Bloomsbury, 2013).

She received her BA in political science and history from Barnard College, Columbia University, and her MA/PhD in international relations and international economics from Johns Hopkins University.

Dr Heather Williams is currently a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at MIT. She is visiting from the Centre for Science and Security Studies and Defence Studies Department at King’s College London, where she is a lecturer. From 2018 to 2019, she served as specialist adviser to the House of Lords International Relations Committee inquiry into the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and disarmament.

Heather is also an adjunct research staff member in the Strategy, Forces, and Resources Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria, Virginia, where she has worked since 2008 on US nuclear policy. Until January 2015, she was a research fellow on nuclear weapons policy at Chatham House. She has a PhD from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, a BA in international relations and Russian studies from Boston University, and an MA in security policy studies from the George Washington University.