US FP UNDER JOE BIDEN

Writer: Hendra Manurung is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in international relations at Padjadjaran University, Bandung  

The US foreign policy is much likely to change under the leadership of President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. (Joe Biden) with Vice President Kamala Harris, 2020-2024. It is certainly will be much different from the previous US foreign policy under the administration of President Donald Trump, 2016-2020.

Post-Cold War, the US has often been criticized for being too ambitious to export democracy around the world. Henry Kissinger in his book, Diplomacy (1994) assesses the ambitious US foreign policy upholding the values of the national interest. After World War II, the US began exporting liberal democracy and global capitalism, not always doing well, but succeeding in West Germany, Japan, Indonesia, India, South Korea, and Taiwan, but failing in Cuba, Haiti, Somalia, and Vietnam.

US power is no longer in military might. Democracy and freedom cannot be enforced. The soft power approach needs to be put forward in spreading democratic values and the universality of humanity. President Biden needs to bring the US back into the international system, restoring the world’s expectation in democratic principles, human rights, and the environment.

In the near future, the international community will see a real change in Washington D.C.’s foreign policy, as President Joe Biden’s priority is to control the COVID-19 pandemic and restore domestic economic growth. On various regional issues, in several situations and scenarios, the US Police will certainly refer to and emphasize national interests. Obviously, this is a common principle in the foreign policy of a large country.

Therefore, the US administration under Joe Biden will redefine the strategic importance of Washington D.C.’s policies on the international stage, from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific region. In the short term, there are probably two priorities that will be taken. The first priority is to revive the image of the United States which fell, due to Donald Trump’s ambiguity which has created a bad image for the US democratization process. The second priority is to rebuild alliances with US allies in Europe and East Asia.

Biden’s subtle, ethical and integrity personality and personality are clearly different from Trump’s. Over the next four years, this will be confirmed through different approaches to foreign policymaking and implementation. Trump is known as a talkative president who is not like politicians in general. It is difficult to be called a world leader, just speaking, likes to have many enemies, is inconsistent, has no commitment, and does not have a clear vision for the future of the US.

From 2016 to 2020, it is this Trump personality that has been the foundation of US policy. Joe Biden’s victory is seen by most US allies as a release from the hostage situation. For four years, the US was threatened, humiliated, troubled by tariff wars and unilateralism decision.

During his time in office, Donald Trump has publicly criticized, questioned, and downplayed the importance of alliances with old allies, including NATO, Germany, South Korea, and Japan. Trump also withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord, the World Health Organization, and various other Presbyterian Nations bodies. As a result, the US was isolated internationally, and China took over the international role of the superpower from the African continent to Latin America.

The US policy of restoring alliances with allied countries is important as a strategy to improve international relations which are increasingly sinking in the international arena. This is the toughest challenge amid other issues, such as global climate change and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic which requires synergic, strategic, and sustainable international cooperation and coordination.

President Biden promised something for the return of international influence that was lost in the Trump era, by restoring the traditional role of the US in the international system, such as predictability, international stability, mutual respect among allied countries, and emphasizing more dialogue, consultation, and prioritizing compromise.

At present, it is not easy for Joe Biden. Over the past 4 years, Trump has screwed up the world superpower policy. The world is also experiencing changes related to the global pandemic, which changes the US perspective on the world and vice versa. Biden figure is known as a pacifist and puts forward multiculturalists. These two personality traits will become the basis for the US implementation on global politics, apart from being non-insistent, not impulsive, and non-aggressive. Biden is a conciliatory extravert, a person who has a certain personality, a strong motive for closer affiliation, and always pushes for an agreement rather than a deadlock.

Typical leadership with a personality profile like this tends to describe an interpersonal, flexible, compromise, multiculturalist leadership style, and a priority for solid teamwork. Biden has shown a multiculturalist approach by appointing Kamala Harris as vice president. Harris is not only a person of color but the daughter of immigrant parents, her mother of Indian descent, and her father of Jamaican descent.

Biden’s policies and approach are much more different from Trump’s, who always prioritizes white supremacist rhetoric, discriminatory white supremacist rhetoric.

Biden’s two approaches will be assessed whether applicable and how the strategy will be implemented, particularly regarding the future of US-China relations, which during Trump’s leadership has always been complicated and tricky competition. US interests have always been a priority, including in cooperating with Beijing, for example regarding global climate change and the possession of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.

Biden is also likely to keep many measures Trump put in place restricting technology exports to some of China’s biggest companies. Not to mention the punitive tariffs on some US$500 billion worth of Chinese goods (bloomberg.com, Jan. 25, 2021). Meanwhile, Kremlin also wants to build better relations with President Biden, for example by trying to reduce Iran’s influence in Syria.

Additionally, these two approaches are likely to be the main uniqueness of US foreign policy in the Biden era to be implemented in the Middle East. In the Trump period, the Middle East region was a hotspot for US policy. At least, Trump has taken a decision with two significant changes, namely 1) ending the nuclear deal with Iran (The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May 2018 by leaving European allied. Tehran says Iran will no longer limit itself to the restrictions contained in the deal.

The existence of an official Iranian statement illustrates how the US cannot walk alone without the continuous support and cooperation of its European allies to return to the JCPOA immediately.

Trump also supports the existence of Israel and the expansion of Saudi Arabia’s influence in the region, whose aim is to isolate Iran’s role in the Middle East; 2) Trump carries out a pro-Israel policy, playing an important role in building relations between Israel and Arab countries (the Abraham Accord, which underlies the creation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates), moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2017. The decision is taken Trump causes world concern.

Trump’s policy is to alienate the peace process in the Middle East, by supporting Israel and neglecting Palestine.

Indonesia and the international community will witness what major changes President Joe Biden will take regarding the implementation of US foreign policy in various regions, apart from Europe (European Union, NATO, Russia); The Middle East; Southeast Asia; and East Asia (China and North Korea).

US strategic decisions under President Biden’s administration will certainly contribute to the world and regional peace.

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