BERLIN — As Donald Trump scored crucial victories in key states, putting his campaign on the verge of an upset win over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, the world was already making it clear that a victory for the billionaire businessman would be the wrong result.

Trump entered the 2016 presidential race as an underdog. If he pulls it off, Trump's victory Wednesday over Clinton would mean that from a global perspective, the worst fears of this contentious U.S. election may stand a chance of being realized.

"After Brexit and this election, anything is now possible. A world is crumbling before our eyes. Vertigo," France's ambassador to the U.S. Gerard Araud tweeted as it became clear that Trump was on the verge of winning the presidency.

Araud's reference to Britain's exit from the European Union — Brexit — was a nod to another vote, fought on a populist battlefield, that confounded expectations.

"It's not just about him. It's about who he will, and has, emboldened," said Samantha Shannon, a popular British writer. "Everything about this feels identical to Brexit."

Trump has touted a vision of American foreign policy that would represent a fundamental break with decades of received diplomatic wisdom, including making U.S. military support for NATO, a cornerstone of global security since World War II, conditional on the financial support of the alliance's members.

His behavior during the before and during campaign— in his speeches, statements and rants on Twitter at 3 a.m. — personify a raft of negative stereotypes about American behavior and character: brash, impulsive, racist, crass, obsessed with wealth, lacking respect and understanding for the wider world.

Chinese state media were quick to cast the election as the embodiment of America’s democracy in crisis in contrast to China’s perceived stability under authoritarian rule. "The majority of Americans are rebelling against the U.S.’s political class and financial elites," the official Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily said in a commentary.

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