What is the President Joe Biden Doctrine? In the few weeks since Biden was sworn in to the Oval Office, it remains unclear where he stands on foreign policy other than MAGA (making America global again). A glance at his record suggests he licked his finger and lifted it in the air to see which way the wind was blowing. His comments, too, spotlight a lifelong politician with four decades of experience who has failed to convey an original thought or hold a defiant position on a subject that has generally been a bipartisan affair of adventurism and interventionism in Washington.
Foreign policy did not attract too much attention on the campaign trail, likely because it highlighted the Democrats’ alliance with the bloodthirsty, pro-war neoconservative establishment. Despite being a seasoned political veteran, Biden is an amateur on foreign relations, emphasized by his inability to carve out a vision for relations with China, Iran, and other adversaries of the American empire.
Iran So Far Away
Speaking in an interview with NBC News, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that the Iranian regime could be “weeks” away from compiling enough fissile material to produce a nuclear weapon. As a result, Biden wants Tehran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but the country will come back to the negotiating table only if the U.S. government removes economic sanctions. However, Biden has confirmed that Iran needs to cease enriching uranium before the White House entertains the idea.
The administration is ostensibly trying to strike a fine balance between being tough and refraining from scaremongering. While Iran has stated that its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes only, Republican and Democratic administrations have been sounding the alarm for nearly 20 years that a potential apocalypse was nigh.
Despite being active in this region of the world since the CIA overthrew democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, Washington has yet to resolve anything of substance. It has been the same old game of cat-and-mouse. It is unlikely Biden will solve the quagmire.
Biden on a Fortune Cookie
The president has downplayed the rise of China, dating back to the 2020 primaries. He dismissed Trump’s dispute with Beijing, using flippant and vague language to espouse his positions on the world’s second-largest economy. For now, it appears that Biden will maintain his predecessor’s tariffs, noting that China should anticipate “extreme competition” from the United States on the global economic stage.
“He’s very bright, he’s very tough. He [President Xi Jinping] doesn’t have a democratic – small ‘d’ – bone in his body,” President Biden told CBS News, adding that the United States will build back better at home to vie for economic supremacy in the international marketplace.
Biden has yet to speak with President Xi, but Blinken spoke with his counterpart, Yang Jiechi. The secretary of state warned that the White House would hold China accountable for its actions and demanded that the regime condemn the military takeover in Myanmar. Blinken conceded that the foundation of Trump’s aggression toward China had been correct on principle, but he wishes to adopt a different approach to China.
Silent on North Korea
The president’s stance on North Korea is unclear. Many of the Democratic candidates in the 2020 field were perturbed that Trump engaged with enemies, arguing that he should not have communicated with a dictator like Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. Biden omitted Pyongyang from his prepared remarks in a recent foreign policy speech, choosing to review the matter before committing to anything. Indeed, North Korea has been more complicated, and Kim has shown no desire to curtail the nation’s nuclear arsenal. That said, its neighbor to the south was jubilant over the progress that Trump fostered, helping to open up economic relations between the two nations.
Can Biden build on these achievements?
He may need to develop a recipe containing the ingredients of diplomacy, sanctions relaxation, and repeated summit meetings. Throughout his rise to despotic authoritarian, Kim has ostensibly taken a liking to two things – attention and business – and the previous administration exploited them to attain a modicum of success. Has it worked? Seoul appears to be pleased with the results.
The Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
When Biden was a senator from Delaware, he championed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As these operations metastasized into disastrous never-ending conflicts, he proposed separating Iraq into three countries and maintaining the course in Afghanistan. Despite troop numbers at their lowest levels in the two nations, Trump was unsuccessful in completely winding down these wars. Will Biden be the one to fully end military endeavors in these two nations?
The previous administration struck a deal with the Taliban to withdraw all U.S. troops by May 2021. But Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby believes it will be challenging to accomplish, telling ABC News:
“The Taliban have not met their commitments. As you know, there is a looming deadline of early May … but without them meeting their commitments to renounce terrorism and to stop the violent attacks on the Afghan National Security Forces and, by dint of that, the Afghan people, it’s very hard to see a specific way forward for the negotiated settlement.”
Meanwhile, President Biden has requested the Department of Defense to review Trump’s paring down of U.S. troops in Iraq following a deadly improvised explosive device (IED) attack just south of Baghdad. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that the DoD would perform an exhaustive review of “U.S. military footprint, resources, strategy, and missions.” Defense officials have stated that the current administration is likely to suspend personnel withdrawals, adding that the Oval Office has yet to provide a defined position in either conflict.
The Status Quo
Should voters have anticipated anything different from a career politician? Republicans and Democrats have possessed an adamantine desire to keep America as the policeman of the world. Trump may not have resigned from this title, but at least he attempted to push the nation’s allies to cough up and pay their fair share. Indeed, it is easy to have a generous welfare state if the U.S. military is protecting your borders. That said, the 2020 election may have been one of only a handful of modern electoral contests where the more pro-war candidate enjoyed victory because of Orange Man Bad – or something.
Was Biden’s predecessor an anti-war candidate a la former Congressman Ron Paul (R) or former Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D)? Hardly, but he did expose the military-industrial complex and reviled the dream of permanent war among the chief Swamp creatures inside the corridors of power. Biden so far appears to be a return to the status quo, the days of constantly seeking dragons to slay to appease special interests and war-starved politicians.
Read more from Andrew Moran.