A look at Biden’s foreign policy agenda

US President-elect Joe Biden’s stance on diplomacy is diametrically opposed to the outgoing Donald Trump, known for carrying out undiplomatic ointments on foreign leaders via social media. But one should not expect a wholesale renewal in substance when the veteran Democrat takes office in January. Jowhartakes a closer look at Biden’s foreign policy agenda.

The former US Vice President brings a wealth of foreign policy experience, expertise and, not insignificantly, genuine interest in global issues to the White House. The Democrat chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and made easy trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to gather facts on the ground before spending eight years as President Barack Obama’s right-hand man from 2009 to early 2017.

On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel happily reflected on her regular meetings with VP Biden under Obama. “He knows Germany and Europe well. I remember good meetings and conversations with him,” Merkel said, emphasizing Biden’s “decades of experience in foreign policy” and “very warmly” congratulating him on his election victory.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, laugh during a state lunch in Merkel’s honor at the State Department in Washington on June 7, 2011. © Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP Photo

The transatlantic conversation is likely to be mitigated in the midst of a promised early flow of Biden’s multilateral movements that align with key European priorities and reverse the kinds of Trump maneuvers that plagued European capitals.

Biden has said that his foreign agenda would “put the United States back at the head of the table, able to work with its allies and partners to mobilize collective action against global threats.” The operative word there may be “table” – Biden acknowledges that there should be one. After four years of “America First”, with the irregular Trump overturning proverbial round tables with an iconoclastic heyday, Biden will be eye-catching about putting the pieces back together.

Repair, strengthening alliances

“For 70 years, under Democratic and Republican presidents, the United States has played a leading role in writing the rules, creating agreements, and animating the institutions that govern relations between nations and promote collective security and prosperity – until Trump,” Biden wrote. in an article on foreign affairs last year that reads like a foreign policy manifesto. “If we continue to abdicate this responsibility, one of two things will happen: either someone else will take the place of the United States, but not in a way that promotes our interests and values, or no one will, and “Chaos will occur. Anyway, that’s not good for America.”

Welcome back America! Congratulations to @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris for this election! While we are celebrating the 5 years of the Paris Agreement, this victory is a beautiful symbol for more than ever acting together in the face of climatic urgency. ?? # Val2020

– Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) November 7, 2020

Biden says he will join Paris’ climate agreement “on day one” and “during the first 100 days of office” he will convene a global climate summit to push the world’s top carbon emissions to join the United States to do national promises more ambitious than those made in the French capital in 2015.

On the campaign track, the president-elect also promised to rejoin the World Health Organization on his first day in office – after Trump resigned and left the Geneva-based institution in the midst of Covid-19’s global public health crisis. “Americans are safer when America is committed to strengthening global health,” says Biden.

Americans are safer when America is committed to strengthening global health. On my first day as President, I will be reunited with @WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage. https://t.co/8uazVIgPZB

– Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 7, 2020

During his first year in office, the President-elect has also promised to host “a global summit on democracy to renew the spirit and common purpose of the nations of the free world.” The stated goal of the collection is to achieve commitments to fight corruption, counteract authoritarianism, in particular through electoral security and promote human rights globally.

Biden has also promised to join the UN Human Rights Council.

As a presidential candidate, Biden blunted to renew America’s support for NATO, calling his country’s commitment to the 70-year-old political and military alliance “sacred, not transactional,” contrary to his predecessor’s vision of the body as a protection club with fees. .

“NATO is at the heart of the United States’ national security, and it is the protection of the liberal democratic ideal – a value alliance that makes it far more sustainable, reliable and powerful than a partnership built by coercion or cash,” the lifelong transatlantic wrote. Expect sighs of relief in the Baltic capitals.

Counteract “Russian aggression”

Part of Biden’s argument for strengthening NATO is, of course, the message it will send to Moscow. “To counter Russian aggression, we must keep the Alliance’s military capability sharp while expanding its capacity to take on non-traditional threats, such as weapons-enhanced corruption, disinformation and cyber theft,” Biden told Foreign Affairs.

He was vice president in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and lowered ties between Moscow and Washington to a low after the Cold War.

Observers note that Washington has not been complacent with Moscow in the intervening years and imposed sanctions on Russia during Trump’s term, although the man behind the Oval Office desk seemed anxious to look the other way. But under Biden, the mixed message of kindness to Vladimir Putin conveyed by Trump – who refused to deal with such affront as the rewards Moscow allegedly put on the heads of US troops in Afghanistan – is likely to be a thing of the past.

“We must impose real costs on Russia for its violations of international standards and stand with Russian civil society, which has bravely risen up again and again against President Vladimir Putin’s kleptocratic authoritarian system,” Biden promised.

Despite its caution against Moscow, Biden has promised to continue an extension of the new START treaty, which his campaign called “an anchor for strategic stability between the United States and Russia” and to use that nuclear reduction agreement as a basis for future arms control arrangements.

Coinciding allies to confront China

Biden, meanwhile, sees China as the most relevant threat to US long-term interests, an attitude that has a rare relative bilateral agreement in Washington, which means that changing relations with Beijing will primarily be a tone and method.

Biden has beaten China for stealing American companies’ technology and intellectual property rights and for giving its state-owned companies an unfair advantage of subsidies.

Instead of addressing the unilateral US concerns that Trump has, Biden has proposed building a coalition of allies to confront China where nations disagree (unfair business practices, human rights violations) and to engage in cooperation where it needed (climate issues, global public health), non-proliferation, not least vis-à-vis North Korea).

“On its own, the United States represents about a quarter of global GDP. When we merge with other democracies, our strength more than doubles. China cannot afford to ignore more than half of the global economy,” Biden wrote in Foreign Affairs. . “It gives us significant leverage to shape the road rules in everything from the environment to work, trade, technology and transparency, so they continue to reflect democratic interests and values,” he reasoned.

The Delaware Democrat has blasted Trump’s tendency to label imports from the European Union and Canada, America’s “closest allies,” as a threat to national security and damaging long-standing “ruthless tariffs.”

“By shielding ourselves from our partners’ economic strength, Trump has cracked our country’s ability to take on the real economic threat,” he wrote, pointing to China.

No more ‘eternal war’ in the Middle East

Biden has promised to “resume” Iran’s nuclear deal, “negotiated by the Obama-Biden administration with our allies and other world powers” – namely France, Germany, Britain, the EU, China and Russia. He acknowledges the deal for blocking Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and blames Trump’s decision to throw it aside to persuade Iran to revive its nuclear ambitions and adopt a more provocative stance. Biden has pledged to rejoin the agreement “if Tehran returns to conformity” and to use “hard-nosed diplomacy and support from our allies to strengthen and prolong it, while effectively retreating from Iran’s other destabilizing activities”.

At the same time, the former vice president has also said that he would “end our support for the Saudi war in Yemen”.

As the Democratic president’s hopeful, Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., Right, hugs then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Joe Biden, D-Del., Left, on Capitol Hill in Washington during the committee’s hearing on Iraq on January 31, 2007. © Susan Walsh, AP Photo / File

Although he has said that Trump’s one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has made the two-state solution for Israel that Biden supports more difficult, he has said that he would keep the Trump embassy moved to Jerusalem in 2018 where it is. Biden has welcomed the normalization of relations that the Trump administration has helped negotiate between Israel and the Gulf states in recent months.

The Democrat has promised to maintain “an ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.” He also warned the country about its treatment of the Palestinian territories, saying earlier this year: “Israel must stop the threats of annexation and stop settlement activities because it will stifle all hope of peace.”

With regard to US military commitments in the region, Biden has advocated that the vast majority of US troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan be deployed in order to reduce the focus on the Al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups. He wants to end the “eternal wars” that the United States has waged in the region.

“We must maintain our focus on counter-terrorism, around the world and at home, but remaining entrenched in unwanted conflicts drains our ability to lead to other issues that require our attention, and this prevents us from rebuilding the other instruments of American power. , “he wrote in Foreign Affairs.

No hard line Brexit

It would be wrong to include Brexit among Biden’s hot-button policy issues. While Trump ally Boris Johnson and his Conservative leadership in London once looked forward to negotiating an “ambitious” post-Brexit trade deal with the United States, neither Biden’s campaign website for his foreign policy priorities nor the former Vice President’s quasi-manifesto in Foreign Affairs mentions Britain itself or its EU divorce proceedings. What is clear is that Biden is not ready to satisfy the so-called “Special Relationship” at any cost.

“We can not allow the Good Friday agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to fall victim to Brexit,” the elected president, a well-known Irish-American, tweeted in September. “Any trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom must depend on respect for the agreement and prevent the return of a hard border. Period.”

Not really Twitter diplomacy as Trump can carry it out, but the elected president’s sentiment will not have escaped Downing Street’s attention as it turns the page on Europe.