The president-elect wants to end Trump’s “America first” and is banking on the “return” of an America “ready to lead the world”.
Posted today at 07:55
United States President-elect Joe Biden and his diplomatic team have pledged to restore American leadership in the world. Beyond general intentions, they will immediately be expected on a series of complex international issues.
During the campaign and since his election, the former vice-president of Barack Obama has emphasized his desire to end Donald Trump’s “America first”, to proclaim the “return” of a America “ready to lead the world”.
Words that reassured the European allies as well as a large part of Washington’s diplomatic-academic community, but which do not clearly say how he will manage the crises that will await him from January 20.
China and Russia: “firm”, but how?
“The United States must be firm with China”: Joe Biden announced the color, as in response to Donald Trump, who accused him of being “weak” and easily manipulated.
Representative of a ruling class that has long advocated cooperation with Beijing, the future president wants to show that he has adapted to the emerging consensus on the American side in favor of uncompromising competition with the other superpower.
It remains to set this strategy to music and find, as the new team intends to do, a happy medium between the ideological confrontation with Cold War overtones led by the current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the need to cooperate on global challenges, such as the pandemic and climate change.
Conversely, with Russia, Joe Biden is committed to being much harder than Donald Trump, who has never hidden his desire to maintain good relations with Vladimir Poutin. But he risks being quickly forced to dialogue with Moscow on several international issues, starting with arms control.
Iran: the impossible return to 2015
Iran has increased calls for a return to the situation that prevailed before Donald Trump left the 2015 international agreement to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons: Washington lifts the sanctions imposed since 2018 and Tehran returns in the nails of the agreement.
On paper, the deal seems to be in line with Joe Biden’s program, who says he wants to renew this agreement negotiated by the Obama administration.
But a simple step back promises to be impossible. In Europe as in America, even the doves agree to say that the agreement must be hardened, and widened to hot topics like the Iranian ballistic missiles and the attitude considered “destabilizing” of Iran in the Middle East.
Even if Tehran would agree to negotiate, the negotiations are going to be difficult, especially as the regime’s tough guys seem to be in a strong position in view of the Iranian presidential election in June.
Middle East, alliances revisited
Joe Biden could return to a less conciliatory line with Israel and Saudi Arabia, pampered as never before by Donald Trump. But again, it is difficult to predict where it will place the cursor.
If he has made it known that he will keep the US embassy in Jerusalem, where the outgoing president has transferred it in breach of international consensus, it is not clear whether or not he will backtrack. avalanche of other unilateral decisions favorable to the Hebrew state taken four years ago.
Nor how far he will push the standoff with Riyadh in terms of human rights.
Afghanistan: probable continuity
The president-elect inherits an agreement made by his predecessor with the Taliban, which provides for the total withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by mid-2021.
On this issue, a certain continuity is assumed: Joe Biden also wants to end the longest war in the United States.
But he wants to maintain a counterterrorism unit there in order to avoid the chaos caused by the withdrawal from Iraq under the Obama presidency. Some experts fear that such a change, however small, could derail the agreement with the Taliban.
North Korea: the lull until when?
When Barack Obama briefed Donald Trump at the end of 2016, he warned him: North Korea’s nuclear ambitions were the most immediate threat.
Four years later, the tension has subsided, thanks to the spectacular choice of the Republican billionaire to forge a direct warm relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
But this strategy failed to curb Pyongyang’s atomic race – just as the traditional diplomacy Joe Biden wants to bring up to date failed.
And the lull could fizzle out, North Korea seeing in the future tenant of the White House a “mad dog” that should be “beaten to death”.
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Posted today at 07:55
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