January 20th local time, the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Biden of the United States was held in Washington, D.C. Biden was officially sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
In his inaugural speech, he again said that he would become the “president of all Americans” and said that there is too much to “repair and heal” in the current major crisis facing the United States.
On foreign policy, Biden has highlighted “restore relationships with allies and re-engage with the world.”
In 2020, Biden competed with Trump under the slogans of “rebuilding the good” and “fighting for the soul of the United States”.
After winning the election, Biden also announced to the world that “America is back” in the first place.
However, the brief joy of victory and the inspiring slogan were soon overwhelmed by the high epidemic and conspiracy theories of “election fraud”.
Over the past two months, Biden has not only faced unprecedented challenges in the power transfer, but also has to think about how to deal with the domestic and foreign mess left by Trump.
A phrase of “rebuilding the good” cannot satisfy Trump supporters’ fanaticism about “make America great again”, while the so-called “fight for the soul of the United States” looks paler after Congress is hit by mobs who claim to be “patriots”.
The pale “America is back” obviously cannot dispel the doubts of America’s allies and the international community. Some American historians say that Biden’s dilemma can almost be said to be the total of the Roosevelt Depression and the Lincoln Civil War.
On the eve of the inauguration, Biden launched a $1.9 trillion rescue package, and his team also announced a work plan for the first ten days of office, focusing on addressing the “four intertwined and overlapping” crises facing the United States, namely, the coronavirus epidemic, the recession, climate change and racial contradictions.
On the foreign policy side, although there is no full discussion at present, core members, including Secretary of State for State-designate Blinkcoln of the Biden administration and Sullivan, National Security Adviser, have recently stressed that diplomacy is a continuation of internal affairs, and the two are inseparable. Improving and consolidating the global leadership of the United States depends fundamentally on the economic and social Progress and strength.
In the face of “internal and external troubles”, the Biden government will have to take the general direction of “being internal and the outside must be safe first”.
Under this premise, this article tries to interpret the future foreign policy trend of the Biden administration from the aspects of the internal and external environment facing the United States and Biden’s diplomatic and personnel layout.
Team Biden: Old face, is self-confidence still there?
Since Biden announced the Foreign Security Team, many analysts believe that Biden’s foreign policy will be a “reply copy” of the Obama administration.
There seems to be some comparison between the international situation facing the two: both Obama and Biden, both face global problems (the financial crisis and the coronavirus epidemic, respectively) that have hit the U.S. economy and society hard at the beginning of their tenure, and have to clean up the diplomatic remnants left by the previous president in the face of the urgent need for global cooperation. , reshape the international image of the United States and repair the relationship with allies.
However, the international situation Biden faces now is still significantly different from when Obama took office.
First of all, Trump’s destruction of alliances and the international order is worse than that of George W. Bush’s time.
During George W. Bush’s presidency, the main criticism of the international community for the United States focused on the unilateralism of the United States’ Iraq war and the prisoner abuse scandal after the Iraq war.
Although he is incompatible with the “old Europe” representatives such as German and French leaders, George W. Bush still agrees with the importance of European allies and NATO, and firmly maintains the international economic order based on free trade.
On the contrary, Trump completely rejects the importance of the traditional allies of the United States.
He not only openly demands that NATO and its Asia-Pacific allies pay more military spending, but also extends unilateralism to the economic and trade fields, repeatedly imposing retaliatory tariffs on allies’ goods, including Canada, France, Italy and other allies.
Trump’s withdrawal from several major international organizations and regional agreements has seriously undermined the international order that successive American leaders have personally created and maintained, making Biden’s road to reconstruction difficult.
Secondly, despite the general international welcome of Biden’s victory, this cautious optimism contrasts sharply with the strong expectations of Obama 12 years ago.
Although this difference is related to Obama’s personal charm, more importantly, it is the message to the international community sent by the U.S. election.
In the outside world, Trump, who is weak in the fight against the epidemic, still has 73 million votes, and the concept of “America first” is more popular than four years ago.
Even if Biden is elected, the answer does not seem optimistic whether American society still has the will and ability to serve as a “global leader”, and whether Trumpism or a new right-wing force will make a comeback in four or even two years.
Therefore, even if the Biden team is interested in reshaping the American-led international order, the international community is still waiting and skeptical about what substantive contributions the U.S. government can make to the international order in the future under the broad principle of “the outside world must be safe and secure”.
Another important change is naturally that China has become more and more influential on the international stage in recent years. On the one hand, Trump’s various sanctions against China cannot realize his attempt to contain China.
His “fire” and successive “retreat” behaviors around the world provide a rare opportunity for China to maintain free trade and advocate multilateralism on the international stage.
On the other hand, under the complex and changing external environment, China focuses on its own development, deepens reform and opening up, and carries out flexible diplomatic activities.
It not only quickly controls the epidemic and accelerates economic recovery, but also signs RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) in the second half of the year and completes the China-EU Investment Agreement.
Negotiate and break through the U.S. blockade. Biden’s diplomatic team is well aware that the United States has been unable to economically curb China’s influence on the Asia-Pacific region and even the global stage.
After understanding these fundamental changes, looking back at Biden’s diplomatic and personnel layout, it is not difficult to find that this is Biden’s helpless and inevitable choice.
The main head is either Biden’s national security foreign adviser for a long time or holds a key position in the Obama-era national security council or the State Department.
These people all have rich diplomatic practical experience, have a wide range of contacts in their respective fields, and are deeply trusted by Biden.
The members are close to each other’s ideas and have experienced a long run-in in the Obama era. Although famous in the Obama era, this group of diplomatic elites have been on thin ice since joining the Biden team, not as confident as “Yes, we can” as 12 years ago.
“Face brushing” diplomacy: Biden’s foreign policy outline
Such a team can maximize “face brushing” diplomacy while the Biden administration is busy with internal affairs: improve the international image and external environment of the United States by promoting ideas and coordinating traditional diplomatic channels such as allies, and avoid paying substantial contributions in opening up the U.S. market and sending more troops overseas as much as possible.
The price is to prevent domestic isolation protectionism from getting out of control again.
This will also be the keynote of Biden’s early foreign policy in office: relying on the reputation and contacts of Biden and his team for many years without increasing substantive material investment to maximize the international image of “liberal democracy” in the United States.
Based on the above judgment, we can outline Biden’s foreign policy in the early days of his term.
First, the Biden administration will quickly engage in dialogue and communication with American allies to persuade allies to maintain consultations with the United States and reach agreement on key issues.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Sullivan previously revealed that the Biden team originally planned to contact allies after winning the election, but due to the obstacles set up by the relevant departments of the Trump administration in the handover process, communication with allies has made little progress, and will regard this as a new The top priority in the field of diplomacy after the government took office.
These key issues include how to deal with China, Russia and Iran, as well as international cooperation in combating the coronavirus epidemic and mitigating climate change.
In order to regain the trust of allies, the Biden administration is likely to lift retaliatory tariffs on the European Union and Canada, and will continue to strengthen coordination and cooperation with allies such as Japan and Australia in the security field in the Asia-Pacific region.
It needs to be emphasized again that with strong populism and isolation protectionism still in the country, it is impossible for the Biden administration to make concessions on economic and trade issues to strengthen allies, such as returning to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
Campbell, a former State Department official who will be the “Indo-Pacific Coordinator” of the National Security Council, recently wrote to Foreign Affairs magazine twice to elaborate on the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific policy, stressing that allies should be persuaded to recognize the threat, restore the military strength and legitimacy of the United States on the ground, and achieve “rebalancing”.
Except for mentioning military training and intelligence sharing, there is no mention of what the United States will contribute to economic and trade integration in the region.
Although we can’t underestimate the appeal of the United States in the “Indo-Pacific” region, even Campbell, Sullivan and others are skeptical about the extent to which this “mouth-to-mouth-mouth-not-not-true” approach can work.
Second, the Biden administration will strengthen multilateralism and improve the international image of the United States within its ability.
For example, in order to get rid of the image of unilateralism in Trump era, soon after Biden took office, the United States is likely to return to the Paris Climate Agreement and rejoin UNESCO and the World Health Organization, and promote the appointment of a new Director-General of the WTO as soon as possible. These actions do not necessarily represent the Biden administration. On the other hand, the Muslim travel ban issued by Trump is also likely to be lifted. In addition to some criticism from Republicans or right-wingers, the return to the key international mechanism itself is less expensive (not related to the actual implementation of treaty obligations), less controversial within the United States, and can timely stop the recent decline in the United States’ international image.
Third, if the Biden administration’s efforts to reshape the image of the United States are mostly “mouth-to-mouth but not true”, clean energy may be the few global issues that the Biden administration will invest more.
Biden made the development of clean energy one of his main political opinions as early as his presidential campaign.
Compared with other issues, climate change mitigation has a broad mass base within the Democratic camp and is listed by the new government as one of the four major crises facing the United States. Therefore, it is in the long-term national interest of the United States to increase investment in clean energy and global cooperation.
Another area where investment may be increased is foreign aid. Notably, Biden appointed Samantha Ball, former ambassador to the United Nations, as the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and included the position in the White House National Security Council for the first time.
During Trump’s presidency, he drastically cut the budget of the International Development Agency, and Biden’s move is aimed at revitalizing the International Development Agency and comprehensively increasing the importance of foreign aid in national security issues.
Bauer has long been engaged in humanitarian practice and research, emphasizing that the Biden administration can repair the international image of the United States by providing vaccines to developing countries through the International Development Agency and joining COVAX (Global Coronavirus Vaccine Implementation Mechanism).
It is not difficult to foresee that the International Development Agency under Bauer will provide assistance to developing countries on global issues such as fighting the epidemic and poverty eradication in the future, becoming an important tool to enhance the leadership of the United States.