Biden Must Craft a Foreign Policy for a World the U.S. Doesn’t Rule

The president-elect has repeatedly said that his main objective overseas is to get Americans back to “the head of the table“Because” the world does not organize itself. “But the shape of this table has changed radically. A global pandemic has exposed the limits of globalization and multilateral diplomacy, and accelerated the decline of the liberal international order that America created and maintained its primacy. It has those that already existed Trends towards renewed geopolitical competition and heightened sensitivity to national sovereignty on issues ranging from border security to economy to health care – a powerful China and a declining but still determined Russia have successfully conspired against them Pax Americana.

So how can Biden develop a foreign policy that is both effective and focused on the new world realities he is facing? The new administration should focus on three objectives.

First, President Biden will preside over an America that is physically ill, economically weaker, and politically and culturally more polarized than it has ever been in the last half century. If he is to be successful abroad, he must convince a deeply skeptical world that wonders about America’s stability, political coherence, and leadership. That means the new president’s first job is to fix the rubble at home. He will face four inextricably linked crises: a raging pandemic far from taking its course; a still crater-like economy that has exposed deep social and economic inequalities; toxic political polarization, as George Packer noted in The Atlanticshowed that America has become two countries;; and a deeply divided and dysfunctional government. None of these challenges can be solved easily or quickly. Biden has the resources to be an effective healer, but each of these Herculean tasks will test him like no president since the FDR.

Second, in attempting to fix America’s broken house – a new stimulus package and extensive Covid campaign would go a long way in this regard – Biden can also draw on a quick harvest of low hanging diplomatic fruits.

America under Trump has pursued a sweeping withdrawal from almost every organization and multilateral deal – the Paris Climate Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, the World Health Organization, three major arms control agreements, and specialized United Nations agencies. It has undermined democratic allies, sucked up dictators and encouraged opponents. His ruthlessness, recklessness, inconsistency and incompetence (especially with regard to the pandemic) and his attack on democracy that is dividing America have left the country in a deep hole and with a severely tarnished international image.

Biden will strive to repair America’s tarnished image overseas, and much of that work can be done with the stroke of a pen.

He will earn a ton of diplomatic miles for not being Donald Trump and for looking and sounding like a commander in chief by tending to America’s alliances, going against his adversaries and projecting an image of the leadership. By Implementing regulations and action allows the United States to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement and World Health Organization, and the White House can lift Trump’s Muslim travel ban, end extreme immigration restrictions, and expand protection for dreamers.

Biden is also committed to hosting a global summit of democracies that would reintroduce American values ​​into US foreign policy and encourage closer cooperation between these countries. He also said he would use the faceoffs’ pulpit call authoritarian leaders like the Saudi Arabian Mohammed bin Salman and the Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump had turned to. It won’t be difficult to reconnect positively with America’s traditional allies in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. To paraphrase Woody Allen: 80 percent of successful alliance management in the post-Trump era will only show up at high-level meetings (even if only virtually) without a wrecking ball in one hand and an extended middle finger in the other.


But the hardest part– and most importantly – cracking nuts will be Biden’s third goal – dealing with China and Iran.

The Trump administration has failed to achieve any of its goals with China and has trimmed bilateral relations by demonizing China and blaming Beijing for Trump’s own failure to respond to the pandemic. hyperventilate over the Chinese threat; Reference to the aim of overthrowing the regime and recognizing Taiwan as an independent country; and engage in ruthless trade and technology policies that are more damaging to the US than China and which threaten to “decouple the world’s two largest economies. Unsurprisingly, Trump envisions the US and China being embroiled in a zero-sum game and that US cooperation on issues is of mutual interest to fools and losers.

Some of China’s behaviors – its predatory trade and technology policies and oppression at home – are two examples – warrant a more muscular American response. And Trump deserves credit for raising political awareness of these obnoxious Chinese practices. But the Biden government, despite its harsh rhetoric, has to hit the reset button during the election campaign with Beijing. The new administration can take several steps to halt the downward spiral in US-China relations.

First, as a well-known Chinese scholar did advocatesBiden should stop portraying China as an ideological threat to the American way of life and an existential threat to the remnants of the tattered, US-led liberal international order. President Xi may be a bloody technonationalist, but China has neither the intent nor the ability to improve and take control of this order, and it is ridiculous to believe that its authoritarian model of government threatens American democracy.

Second, it makes sense to organize a multilateral coalition of like-minded states to counter China’s neo-mercantilist trade practices. However, the Biden administration should use the World Trade Organization’s trade dispute mechanisms to deal with its complaints whenever possible, as experience has shown that US businesses and consumers have benefited from WTO mediation and the US has achieved more favorable results by using this system instead of negotiating with countries directly. More importantly, it should end the flawless and counterproductive tariff war with China, according to several studies cost US companies $ 46 billion and the US economy 300,000 jobs and GDP growth of around 0.5%.

Third, the new government should publicly call on Beijing for its horrific human rights violations – particularly the imprisonment and persecution of Muslim Uyghurs – while avoiding measures that the Chinese leadership would perceive to be aimed at regime change, such as supporting Chinese civil society groups.

Fourth, while the new administration should provide diplomatic assistance to its allies to oppose the bullying in China, its public message about China should belittle containment and “great power competition” and instead the need for revitalized US-China cooperation Addressing global challenges such as pandemics and climate change.

Finally, a Biden government should stop worrying about what the Chinese are doing to strengthen their military positions in the South China Sea as long as China does not interfere with free navigation. Nor does it have to keep puffing up its chest to maintain American military dominance in the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese win an advantage about the USA in this region not because of China’s military strength, but because Beijing is diplomatically and economically outmaneuvering the USA.

The policy of the Trump administration, “maximum pressureIran was also a total bankruptcy. Iran has not agreed to renegotiate an agreement with stricter restrictions on its nuclear program and it now has it 12 times the amount of weapons-grade material it had when it signed the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has not reduced its “malicious” activities in the region or curtailed its ballistic missile programs; Sanctions did not hasten the collapse of the regime; The US is diplomatically isolated from its allies more than ever. Iran was able to increase oil revenues by circumventing sanctions. and the government’s unsuccessful efforts to isolate Iran have given both China and Russia a unique opportunity to forge closer ties with Tehran.

The Trump administration has dug a deep hole for the Biden administration to climb out of and has vowed to keep digging by threatening sanctions every week through Jan. 20. Indeed, the president-elect’s promise to re-enter the nuclear deal will stand stiff headwind. Biden said he wanted to renegotiate the terms of the nuclear deal; The Iranian Foreign Minister poured cold water over this idea. Biden wants to focus on Iran’s regional activities and missile program, but there is little chance the Iranian government will agree to bring these issues to the table. Politics on the nuclear issue is annoying: Iran will have little room for maneuver ahead of its presidential election next June, and the US Congress is imposing sanctions on Iran’s non-nuclear activities, which will be harder to eradicate.

Faced with these challenges, Biden must compromise if he is serious about de-escalating the risks of a conflict with Iran. The most realistic outcome that his government can expect is an intermediate outcome. “freeze for freezeAgreement in the first half of next year, followed by negotiations on a broader agreement. Achieving even this more modest goal will be politically difficult, as the government may have to grant partial sanctions relief while Iran can engage in some activities banned under the 2015 nuclear deal. Furthermore, it is by no means clear that Iran is interested in one temporary freezingthat it will stop uranium enrichment or reduce its supply of this material.

The odds of success contrast with the success of putting the nuclear Humpty Dumpty back together. To hedge their bets, the new government may want to explore other avenues to ease tension with Tehran, such as: B. to provide humanitarian aid or to set up a back channel to discuss possible confidence-building and conflict prevention measures. It remains to be seen whether the Iranian regime, which needs an American enemy to maintain its legitimacy and identity, will be receptive to this type of dialogue.

The establishment of guard rails for US relations with China and Iran requires a revival of American diplomacy and an end to Washington’s supernatural habit of using military force, economic sanctions and threats to force countries into submission. This change in attitudes will not be easy for foreign policy mandarins in the Biden administration, many of whom adhere to the American state of emergency and primacy. It is necessary, however, if the US is to avoid a dangerous confrontation with either country that would seriously undermine the security and prosperity of America and its allies, partners and friends.

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