THE DIFFICULT PENDULUM SWING

There is a general feeling of relief in the World after the American elections.
Biden is a classic type of American President, experienced and avoiding extremes.

The expectations of his Presidency are much greater than the ability of any American President to reverse the mess done by the previous occupant of the White House.

Trump made a soup out of the fish of Foreign Policy. Biden cannot reconstitute the fish out of the soup.

The four challenging areas of US Foreign Policy are:

 

The Climate Change
This is where Biden will be most successful.
Climate Change is where he can really differentiate US Foreign Policy from that of Trump, starting inside the Country.

While Trump was supporting the legacy Economy with Coal Mines, Steel Mills, Oil, and lax anti-pollution legislation, Biden will support the emerging Green Economy activities, that have already been recognized by Investors as lucrative areas for great investments.

Biden will reenter the Paris Agreement of 200 nations abandoned by Trump, aiming at reducing 2005 CO2 levels by 26-28% by 2025.

This will also create for American Policy a big lever to use against China whose impressive economic growth is linked to the greatest level of pollution in the whole World.

China
There will be tough but efficient, not chaotic, Policy changes, that will intensify tensions between Beijing and Washington under a Biden presidency.
During the election campaign, Biden took a tough line on China, calling Xi a “thug”.

The principal confrontational reason is that China is now directly challenging America.

The Chinese Economy has recovered from COVID-19 or at least it is not affected by any continuing contagion. It is rising much faster than that of any State and is poised to overtake the American Economy.
The biggest proof is Copper imports.
As Reuters reports: Copper imports in the first nine months of 2020 were up 41% from a year earlier at 4.99 million tons, customs said. That is already more than the 4.98 million tons of copper China imported in the whole of 2019.
Copper consumption is the greatest indication of a rising Economy that is future-oriented in Electricity and Electronics.

Chinese Geostrategy is becoming more aggressive.
China plans, possibly within this decade, to absorb Taiwan. This will be a game-changer for the whole of Asia.
China also expands its ties with Iran and Turkey and coordinates with Russia so that the Geopolitical formation of the “Heartland”, consisting of China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey is realized.
Whether it will be achieved is another matter but the attempt is enough to generate a new Cold War.
The Biden Administration will aim at coordinating all America’s allies and potential allies in resisting the Chinese expansionist Geostrategy.

Islam and the Middle East.
The Policy of the Trump administration on those issues was incoherent.
Excessive hostility to Iran, abandonment of the Kurds in neighboring Syria, friendship with the pro-Iranian and anti-NATO Turkey, a spasmodic reaction in Libya, facilitation of the Israel-UAE rapprochement.
Biden’s Policy will be differentiated.

The Turkish effort to dominate in the area will be curtailed.

The whole effort of the United States Policy will be to organize its graceful withdrawal from the Middle East in a coordinated way so that those that are left behind will be able to face the Geopolitical challenges with the support of the US, but without the US in the forefront.
To achieve this the US is already organizing the big alliance of UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel.

This will only work if Israel does something positive for the Palestinians that will create the conditions for its alliance with the Arab States.
This will be encouraged by the Biden Administration, as any further extension of Israel Sovereignty in the West Bank will freeze the process.

Iran will play an important part in the shaping of the new Middle East Geostrategy.
If its theocratic regime moderates its behavior in exchange for a reduction of sanctions, this will not only allow its population some breathing space from its present misery but also it will make the whole disengagement of the US from the Middle East smoother.

Europe
This will be a difficult relationship.
The Germans want to get closer to the US but on their terms. The French want to get closer to the US but on their terms. The US under Biden will wish to get closer to Europe but on its terms.
Five are the prerequisites for the Biden Administration:

  1. -Independent of the EU relations between the Eastern European States and the US.
  2. -Big increases in the financial commitments of the European States to NATO.
  3. -Big restrictions in the relations between Germany and Russia, particularly in the Energy and High Technology fields.
  4. -Big financial military commitment of France for a strong development of its Military Power and its coordination with the US Armed Forces.
  5. -Reduction of the European relationship with China and the alignment of the EU with the US policies on China.

 

Biden’s policy regarding Europe will be similar to that of the Obama administration but more intense.
It will be very difficult to achieve the above for as long as Europe does not feel threatened and prioritizes its Economic Policy over anything else.

Conclusion.

While there will be a huge improvement of the Biden Administration on style this cannot be the same on substance.
The primary opponent will continue to be China.
American relations with any other States will depend to a great extent on the relations of those States with China.
Relations with Europe will not be vitriolic anymore but they will continue to be difficult.

The speed of disengagement from the Middle East will depend significantly on the political situation of certain Middle East States, particularly Israel and Turkey.
There is no desire from either Russia or the USA to come closer to each other.

Nuclear challenges increase.
Arms Control negotiations with Russia are disintegrating, Iran continues on its course for the nuclear bomb and North Korea will continue its nuclear missiles testing as this is an asymmetric leverage of China in its relations with the USA.

Together with Covid-19 and the Economy, all this will demand the full attention of the new competent team. With skill and luck, they are likely to succeed, if not to solve, at least to manage efficiently the burning issues.

All the above is valid provided that there will not be an Economic collapse.
If it happens, then all “bets are off”.

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Comments

  1. Good analysis but you forgot to mention one important component of Biden’s green policies – the introduction of taxes for their implementation.

    In the EU we’ll probably see a carbon tax and possibly penalties or import taxes on products from countries that don’t follow suit with green policies. I see nations facing problems with their economy – either stagnant economy because of the high cost of power or perhaps inflation taking off.

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