by Jibran Malik
We could hope to see a better governed US with adequate policies being adopted on domestic as well as on the international level.
Joe Biden taking over as the next US president will be a new beginning. After being ruled by Donald Trump for four years, the USA has again shifted back to the Democrats rule. Biden is not a new face to the politics. He was part of the Obama administration and his Vice President. A Democrat, he is a well known moderate unlike his Vice President Kamala Harris, a hardliner leftist.
The Trump Era
Biden will replace Trump, a nationalist who was very much against globalization and considered all major international treaties like Paris Climate Accord as a bad deal for the United States. Trump was an authoritarian leader who praised autocrats across the globe and made the relationship with the allies worse especially in Europe. While his foreign has been very chaotic he has done some good things which Biden would like to keep. Trump was very vocal about his slogan America First. He often criticized the previous two regimes of Obama which he thought was very globalist in turn undermining American interest. Trump was in favour of pulling out of Afghanistan and bringing back all the American soldiers home. Trump, a radical right-winger, has been a very vocal nationalist and someone who has often criticized the US foreign policy of internationalism. It’s no different to understand Trump’s policies when his main slogan during his campaign was “make America great again”.
The problem with Trump was that he would often align himself with radical right-wing organizations and pledge his support to white supremacist, neo-Nazis and other groups. During many of his speeches, he hesitated in condemning white supremacy and right-wing extremist behaviour.
The Middle East
Trump’s policy with regard to regional allies like Iran was very disheartening. He withdrew in 2018 from the Iran deal and re-imposed fresh sanctions. Most of the state companies have been blacklisted by the Trump administration. Trump always had a bitter relation with the Iranian sate and often blamed it for extremism and insatiability in the Middle East.
As Trump administration reaches its end, there will be a lot of pressure on Biden to rectify the chaotic decision making by his predecessor. One of them would be to hold talks with the Iranian regime with regard to the JCPOA (the joint comprehensive plan of action) which the USA withdrew itself from in 2018. Trump would often criticize Iran for sponsoring many insurgent groups in Syria and Iraq and considered Iran as a great threat to the peace and stability in the Middle East, he had signed a presidential memorandum which included tougher sanctions against Iran.
Joe Biden is expected to have a more positivity approach toward Iran and may enter into negotiations. A certain sanction may remain but the expectation is that Iran and USA can get on the table on some common points which would help both nations to overcome the challenges they face and especially with regards to their interests in the Middle East.
The Syrian civil war and the crisis in Yemen may not be that different during the Biden era as there will be no major change in it. The USA has always supported Saudi Arabia when it comes to Yemen. Mohammad Bin Salman (MbS) has been very close to Trump administration that always pledged support to the Saudi monarch. The USA also signed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia during the Trump era. MBS and Trump share the same vision about the Iranians. Trump has been way harder on Iran than his predecessors and this has helped to forge with a closer alliance with the Saudi state which has its own interest to protect.
An Old Horse
Joe Biden can be considered an old horse in US politics. He is far more sophisticated as a person and has a better understanding of geo-politics than Trump. He supported the American recovery and reinvestment act in 2009. Biden is being seen as a moderate liberal and like most moderate liberals he has taken very goods steps for reproductive rights of women, gay rights and other liberal ideas. He has been pro-environment and pushed limit the use of carbon as sources of energy.
Regardless of Republican or the Democrats, all American presidencies have favoured Israel. Most of the veto’s in the UN have been in response to the allegations of human right violation against Palestinians. But especially during the last few years and with the rise of far-left ideas and people like Sanders and AOC there has been a call within the Democratic Party to strive for the rights of Palestinians.
China Versus Russia
Trump’s entire presidential journey has been plagued with criticism, mismanagement, failures and most importantly his lack of understanding of geopolitics which has affected the position of the USA and its hegemony. Most of his speeches were either very stupid or filled with fake news.
From calling Coronavirus as china virus, referring to China as cyber-terrorist and an intellectual property thief, a currency manipulator, Trump was too much in China. It was the worst foreign policy.
But I guess nothing comes even close to how things have been with regard to Russia ever since Trump became the president.
From 2016, Russia has been heavily criticized for its alleged meddling in the US elections and this debate hasn’t ended till now. During the first two or three years, the Russian meddling in American affairs was one of the hot topics between the Trump and the Democratic Party.
The FBI, NSA and other US intelligence agencies were very sure and confident that Russia was trying the influence the elections. Even before the elections of 2020, William Evanina, the director of national counterintelligence and security centre warned the threat posed by Russia, China and Iran to the US elections. He said China does not want Trump to be re-elected as it considered him a threat to its interest unlike Russia that, as always, wants Trump in the oval office.
In 2017 after Trump became the President many of those who campaigned for Trump had alleged links with some senior Russian officials. The most dramatic part was on May 9, when James Comey, the 7Th director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who was investigating the Russian angle in the US elections, was fired. And on May 13, the national security advisor Michael Flynn resigned under mysterious circumstances. Government sources had indicated he misled the US diplomats about the Russian dealings.
A lot has happened during the Trump era as it has divided the Americans. His pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan can be considered as a populist move. However, when Trump recognized Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, it received a lot of backlashes. The entire politics of the USA tends to shift in one way when it comes to Israel; they favour Israel in a way which is very rarely seen on the geopolitical level.
While the far left pushes for a Palestinian state and human rights of Palestinians, the far right is known for its anti-Semitic views and hate of the Jewish state. It would be a something to look for when Biden takes over the oval office how he deals with the Israel Palestine conflict.
Trump had also made a big deal about sealing the border with Mexico and deporting Mexicans as they commit crimes and their involvement in drug menace has been a huge problem. Trump’s border plan was called a very racist idea and he never delivered on this idea.
Now that he is president-elect, Biden will need to be more specific about his foreign-policy stance. In many ways, Biden has a track record dating back almost five decades. But he will begin his term in a very different world in comparison to his earlier stint in White House. He will face new, substantive challenges, including Covid-19 and a more assertive China.
Biden cannot simply rely on competent technocratic management in foreign policy. His presidency may be the establishment’s last best chance to demonstrate that liberal internationalism is a superior strategy to populist nationalism. He must consider the strategic options generated by an ideologically diverse team, and he has to make big choices that are attuned to the politics of the moment, in the United States and around the world.
Biden’s view is overwhelmingly more thoughtful and sustainable and being in politics for five decades would be something that could really help to restore democracy across the USA. But in turn, we could see a scuffle between reformist and centrist and whose policies Biden is going to accept. Some of the key members and advisors from the Obama administration may also help to ease pressure from Biden but it will be tough four years for the US and subsequently for the rest of the world. However, we could hope to see a better governed US with adequate policies being adopted on domestic as well as on the international level.
(The author is a student studying science and is frequently writing on global isues. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)