Donald Trump’s four turbulent years as head of the White House were marked by a mixture of aggression and theoretical loss of objectives in the foreign policy of the world’s greatest economic and military power.
In the election campaign, the Republican sought to impose weakness and even senile on Joe Biden. Winning, the Democrat tried to reverse the equation.
While much of Trump’s foreign policy tenets remained, starting with Cold War 2.0 stipulated in his dealings with China, Biden was surprisingly affirmative.
Surrounded by professionals, like Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he focused on where there was only shrillness before.
Instead of just denouncing Beijing, he called on the Chinese for a diplomatic summit. The tone was harsh from side to side, but it is possible to argue that at least the two central powers of the 21st century have so far sat at the table.
He left the looseness with which Trump treated Vladimir Putin’s Russia and chose Russian as his company villain. He took a bite with the Kremlin: he extended a nuclear arms control treaty, but at the same time imposed sanctions on the Russians.
He went even further, calling Putin a murderer because of his treatment of opponent Alexei Navalni, but he also offered a summit when he saw that Russia should not be overlooked when Ukraine hinted at force to resolve the issue of pro-Moscow separatist zones. in the Donbass.
Just as he has ignored Trump and has not fallen to his level in the countryside, he believes he can despise the Russian because in the end he does not have the economic muscle to face the United States. That’s right, but it can turn out to be dangerously untrue given Putin’s history of using force when he is weakened.
The same incisive form is given to some uneasy allies, suggesting that Biden is inclined to use human rights advocacy when it suits him.
He turned away from the Saudi crown prince, accused of murder and worse, and admitted the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottomans, unlike Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey.
In the first case, he sought a strong position in Trump’s alliance in the Middle East to face Iran, with whom he would like to take over the nuclear deal torn apart by his predecessor. But no break with Riyadh is to be expected.
In the second, he offered a treat to his NATO allies, who have a steadfast partner in Ankara, reversing the years of mistreatment imposed by his predecessor on the Atlantic alliance.
The relationship with Israel, which had everything to be cold given Binyamin Netanyahu’s closeness to Trump, appears to be settling in.
He has yet to leave North Korea, but he may be forced to do so as soon as Kim Jong-un decides to fire some of his new missiles.
His biggest individual gesture, however, depended on the use of an instrument left by the Republican: the agreement to withdraw from Afghanistan, heralding the end of the longest war in American history until September 11. of this year.
In the meantime, Biden is seeking global leadership on the climate issue, with the summit last week, and must face broader efforts to help control the pandemic. Distributing your excess vaccines is only the first step.
So, it is clear that in addition to the risks that excessive rhetorical force can bring, the problem facing the Democrat is the temptation to try to tackle almost everything at the same time. Especially since he “only” intends to rebuild the pillars of the US economy while all this is happening.