With @JoeBiden cemented as the Democratic nominee, it’s worth looking in detail at his foreign policy record to try and draw some conclusions about what kind of President he’d be on the world stage and how he may differ from Trump. #Election2020. *THREAD*
Before looking at specifics, it’s the length of Biden’s record that’s most striking. He first joined US Senate Foreign Affairs Ctte in 1973 when Mao was still Chinese premier & US recognised Taiwan, Brandt was W German Chancellor, Tito ruled Yugoslavia & Brezhnev was USSR premier
The foreign policy universe he cut his teeth in was v much still framed by carnage of post-World War Two order & far removed from the less clear threats we see today from organise terrorist groups and non-state actors like ISIS. Asia and Africa were total economic minnows then.
Obama was never much interested in Europe. His big focus was strengthening US ties with Asia. Biden was a senior member of Senate Foreign Affairs committee throughout collapse of the USSR, reunification of Germany and Yugoslavian conflicts. He has genuine skin in the game here.
Hard to see a Biden-led US prioritising Europe over other regions but his decades-long relationships and record will naturally mean he has a far more emotional, personal focus on flash-points like Kosovo, Bosnia and Ukraine than the president administration.
Curiously, this doesn’t appear to extend to any great interest in the UK. Sure, he’s a fan of the NATO tie but sees no upside to Brexit from a US perspective & won’t prioritise a free trade deal in the same way Trump has. He’s closer in sympathies to Dublin’s views than London’s.
Biden has always been a big supporter of institutions - be it NATO, WTO, EU etc. Power blocks have, according to his political vision, led to collective action and pressure for positive change. In contrast to Trump, I’d expect a Biden presidency to recommit to multilateralism.
Russia should be concerned about a Biden administration. Under Obama, he was one of leading forces behind implementation of sanctions after Russia’s invasion of Crimea and is sharply critical of their operations in Syria. Trump is reluctant on sanctions, Biden’s a cheerleader.
Worth looking at how Biden approached USSR as a Senator. He was hugely critical of human rights abuses but also quietly worked for USSR-US deal on nuke controls as far back as 1979. He appears willing to negotiate - but to extract a price. Trump appears to ask for less up-front.
One should expect to see US reengaging with Iran nuclear deal framework. It fits with his multilateral approach to work collectively with EU, UK, China and Russia on this and to seek deescalation of tensions. Has backed humanitarian easing of existing sanctions due to C19.
Biden has generally been a free trader and has opposed most tariffs. He backed Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership and voted for NAFTA and China’s WTO accession. Will be interesting to see how his formal platform reconciles this w/ growing public sentiment towards protectionism.
Biden’s China policy is confusing. He accepts the need to trade and opposed Trump’s tariffs yet is sharply critical of Chinese IP infringements and state subsidies that harm US competitiveness. He has yet to articulate a clear policy since C19 outbreak. Presume that’ll frame it.
Under a Biden presidency, one can expect a big multilateral commitment on climate change issues. Has already announced intention to return to 2015 Paris Agreement & would likely play a key role at postponed COP2021. Arguably one of his biggest dividing lines w/ Trump.
A noticeable area of agreement between Biden and Trump seems to be a shared scepticism of neolib. / “regime change”. While Biden voted for early stages of Iraq war, he shares Trump’s scepticism of military interventions. Under Biden, troops on ground in Syria or Iran v unlikely.
Expect a Biden presidency to also represent continuity re: Israel. He’s a long-standing champion of US military/financial aid to Israel and backs keeping the US Embassy in Jerusalem. One nuance: he openly speaks of a “two-state solution”, whereas Trump equivocates on the issue.
In LatAm, there’s the prospect of both continuity and change from Trump’s positions. Like Trump, Biden publicly backed Guaido over Maduro in Venezuela and wants closed Brazil ties. Biden will likely seek to restart US-Cuba talks on a reset in relations & economic ties.
To my mind, Biden is markedly to right of most in his party on broad for. policy issues. Putting aside appeal of his populist economic message to the Dem base, I suspect this partly explains why Bernie Sanders performed strongly. Saudi Arabia provides Biden an opp. to satisfy...
...a sceptical Dem base. Biden has long been vocal in his of criticism of the Saudis, publicly labelling them “pariahs” re: the Khashoggi murder and is arms sales - a departure from Trump *and* Obama rhetoric. All US presidents tend to quickly bow to the Al Sauds. Will he too?
So, in conclusion: th biggest shift one would likely see under a Biden presidency is a move away from Trump’s unilateralism and recommitment to projecting US power in multilateral structures, whether that be NATO, COP or P5+1. Now awaiting policy specifics.