In The News Quiz February 22, 2021
Foreign Policy: Biden Reset
Following four years of a president with little to no experience conducting international relations, a seasoned diplomat is in the Oval Office. Joe Biden chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was a globe-trotting vice president for another eight years, and joins this deep foreign-policy experience to his personal relationships with many world leaders. Besides personal expertise, how else might President Biden shift from Trump foreign policy practices?
Early Biden (and new Secretary of State Anthony Blinken) statements suggest several important changes. Trump’s “America First” policy generally diminished alliances, even longstanding ones like NATO, in favor of U.S. go-it-alone stances. Biden declared in his first foreign-policy address that “Alliances are our greatest asset,” and is working swiftly to restore partnerships. One initial priority: coordinated global action on climate change. On Russia, President Trump muted criticism of Russian actions—including proven meddling in the 2016 election. In his first month as president, Biden made clear—including in a phone call with President Vladimir Putin—that the U.S. would hold Russia accountable for cyber-attacks on American elections and human-rights violations.
Middle East policy is also undergoing changes. Biden will likely restore a deal with Iran restricting their nuclear weapons program, after the Trump Administration cancelled the arrangement. Saudi Arabia’s military offensive in neighboring Yemen was supported by Trump; Biden’s team has reversed that U.S. position.
Finally, Trump’s consistent criticism of China ranged from instigating a costly trade war to routinely labelling COVID the ‘China flu,’ owing to an initial outbreak in Wuhan. Biden’s foreign-policy team is promoting a nuanced relationship, including renewed trade and economic ties while also holding China to account for human-rights violations of their Uighur minorities and of political prisoners.
Read the following articles that detail some of these issues:
- President Joe Biden, “Why America Must Lead Again” (2021)
- Lyse Doucet, “Tough Tests for Joe Biden in ‘New’ Middle East” (2021)
- Colm Quinn, “Biden’s Russia Moves Signal a Different Kind of Reset” (2021)