Editor’s note: Hamza Rifat Hussein is a former guest at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C., and is currently working as an assistant researcher at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute in Pakistan. The article only reflects the author’s comments, and CGDN comments are not required.
US President Joe Biden, January 29, 2021 / Getty, Washington D.C.
Bad weather in Washington has prevented it from being President Joe Biden’s first major foreign policy speech. The speech, to be delivered later this week, outlines his vision and the policies of the United States’ role in the international community.
The buzz over the event may have dampened expectations that the United States would reshape its four-year tradition of protectionism, unilateralism and major deals and breach of contract. It is an undeniable fact that the outlined policies will have clear far-reaching consequences from the outset. NBC announced earlier Saturday that Biden would focus on restoring US status on the world stage.
However, as the Democrats face administrative challenges from the Republic of Korea to Afghanistan, a different approach is needed to address global issues. Biden will sign a number of executive orders, such as the Trump administration, which will lead to cooperation and engagement rather than isolation, the senior executive said.
This means that cautious optimism lies in many variations, such as the Russian-US relationship, Biden’s policy towards Beijing and the management of multilateral conditions in the Middle East. Prior to the planned remarks, Biden held telephone conversations with a dozen foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov aims to revive the new START (Strategic Disarmament Treaty), which halves the number of strategic nuclear missiles and provides measures to build greater confidence through verification regimes between the two countries. While Peskov was certainly a positive sign, he warned against such irresponsibility as to explain the situation, such as the resumption of US-Russian relations.
Most of these phone calls are meant to break the ice and restore trust among allies, and the United States is ready to accept its global responsibility as an inclusive force. For example, the rejoining of the Paris Climate Agreement made a promise because of the resignation of Biden’s predecessor, who considered the terms of the agreement ineffective in restricting China as a shameful emitter.
White House land covered in snow on January 31, 2021. / Getty
Trump’s diplomacy sought to combine American hatred with China with multilateral organizations and institutional inaction, which only brought about the international isolation of the United States. A rational deviation from the Paris climate agreement on the basis of increased costs to the United States without a significant drop in global temperatures was rejected by rejoining Python.
However, US conservatives continue to see China’s greenhouse gases as an issue, relying on market forces to reduce its emissions to the population under Trump. Such claims are controversial, and Python’s move could work with China on climate change.
In addition to climate change, there are serious problems. Iran’s infiltration into the United States’ full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty means that suspending its enrichment would be subject to a US return to the treaty.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blingen has said it would be a prelude to talks about good relations with Iran, which continue to put Middle East affairs in a delicate situation. On the contrary, tough talks with regional allies Saudi Arabia and Israel on human rights abuses such as the risk of settlements and killings are further polarizing. The only way is to revive the 2015 JCPOA agreement, but we can only guess whether the president will publicly accept the demands of the Iranian leadership in his speech.
Strong ties with Europe and Latin America do not exacerbate the fact that China is a gap in US foreign policy. To date, the rhetoric of the administration and the uprising against Beijing have strengthened the position we have seen during the Trump era, in the absence of constructive dialogue. A flurry of state policy on Taiwan and Xinjiang is an endorsement of Trump’s policy of provocation and coercion. Without the use of these institutions, Biden would not have been able to negotiate with China, making negotiations on state sovereignty and US foreign policy in East Asia a difficult and complex task.
The vision of restoring America’s position in the region, if not global, could easily be undermined if some countries are seen as threats and others as allies. As his speech draws to a close in the coming days, the central question remains – can the Biden administration restore the United States’ position in a world of non-discriminatory content and commitment? If so, that would be a huge success.