Biden and America’s Foreign Policy

Given the success of the democratic party in gaining superiority in the US Senate makeup, Joe Biden, the next US president, has much power in pursuing his domestic and foreign policy agenda.
24 January 2021
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Seyed Vahid Karimi

Given the success of the democratic party in gaining superiority in the US Senate makeup, Joe Biden, the next US president, has much power in pursuing his domestic and foreign policy agenda. Biden’s cabinet lineup can reveal the new US administration’s future policy line. It seems, the next US administration’s foreign policy will be a combination of flexibility and innovation, by regard to Joe Biden’s agenda. It is likely that Biden will emerge stronger than what he was during Obama’s era on the US foreign policy stage. However, considering the US allies’ preparedness for participating in the foreign policy, there is the possibility that the new US administration will come across serious problems for making consensus. Yet, Biden should, by use of the experience learned from the first years of Obama’s office, seize the opportunity for executing rational policies on a win-win basis.

Given the quantitative superiority of the democratic members in the Senate, Joe Biden, the next US president, has extraordinary power in pursuing his domestic and foreign policy agenda. It seems, considering his promises for return to multilaterism and the Climate Accord and his emphasis on respecting the international law and cooperation for reviving the US status, the Biden administration will have no excuses for not returning the US to a rational policy path that existed before Trump came. Whether Biden will try to repair the distorted face of the US in the past four years or not is going to manifest itself in his first speech to the US congress, which is usually held in the first months of each new year. Political observers, at home and abroad, have offered a plethora of opinions on the new US administration’s foreign policy strategy and contend that Biden’s cabinet lineup, especially in the state department, the US delegation in the UN and the national security council posts, will manifest the new US foreign policy line. The US thinkers believe, by having a look at Biden’s cabinet lineup, it can be predicted where the next US foreign policy line will be heading. With a combination of political figures like Antony Blinken and Wendy Sherman in the state department and Jake Sullivan in the national security council, which are key posts for making decisions in the US foreign policy, it seems, a combination of “flexibility and re-planning” by regard to “subject” will be on Biden’s foreign policy agenda; so that in the above mentioned lineup, there will be a type of collaboration with the allies in Nato , the EU, the UK and Israel; because democrats have even in the past acted like this. Some other political observers contend that Biden will feel in no rush to effect change in the US foreign policy and will use them as leverage, given the political and security issues. A point that can be used in predictions is the former US president, Obama, ‘s statements about Joe Biden. In his first volume of his political memoirs, he says:” When I asked Biden to become vice president, he accepted on the condition he be the last person to be consulted.” In other words, not only did Obama not ignore Biden in decision-makings, but also it can be concluded that has had an effective and influential role through all decision making and enforcement of foreign policy during the Obama administration. Although it is said that Biden’s presidential term will be Obama’s third term in the White House, it seems, Biden will emerge more resolved and stronger than what he was during Obama’s office. Another point to be made is Biden’s emphasis on cooperation with the allies in foreign policy, which seems Biden’s foreign policy team’s being influenced by the Arab Persian Gulf states, Israel and the European troika France, Germany and the UK can be problematic. The difference between Trump and Biden’s foreign policy is between unilaterism and multilaterism. On one side, Biden’s multilaterism in foreign police is his positive point compared to Trump’s policy. But on the other side, third party countries’ interferences for influencing the US foreign policy can be problematic.  Resetting the US foreign policy toward relations with the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran and West Asia states will face serious challenges. In this regard it has to be said that despite the Biden administration’s executive power in making internal consensus between the White House and Congress in leading and guiding foreign policy, given the US allies getting ready for participating in foreign policy, there is a possibility that His administration will face serious and numerous obstacles in building consensus. Biden must well remember the first two years of Obama’s term, during which both the White House and Congress were in Democrats’ hands, but Obama , high on his victory, missed the opportunity and did not fully used his first two years to execute his foreign policy in the best possible way, leading to the democrats losing the midterm Congress races and the republican gaining majority in Congress. As a result, the Obama foreign policy gradually  underwent changes, not only not desired by the democrats, but due to the opposition by the republicans in Congress, most executive policies of the Democratic administration of Obama were of interest to the GOP party. Therefore, Biden should draw lessons from the opportunities missed during the first two years of Obama’s office and treasure his first 24 months in office to execute a rational US foreign policy on a win-win basis.

 Seyed Vahid Karimi, Senior Expert at US Studies        

       (The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)                                      

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