All indicators from the Biden Administration, point to a continuation of an aggressive pro-war foreign policy, especially in the Middle East.
The initial positions on issues of Foreign Policy set forward by newly appointed Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, seem to point towards a continuation of the wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. In the course of the four hour-long Senate Confirmation Hearing, a day prior to Joe Biden’s Presidential inauguration, Blinken had indicated that the US would continue on the warpath.
The 15 executive actions and two directives Joe Biden oversaw, during his first day in office, have also been criticized by many viewing this as a Trump style immediate reversal of the former governments policies. In practice, these orders can effectively distract the press for approximately three weeks, if needed, in order for Biden to work on other policy issues.
On the issue of China, it already looks bleak, as Antony Blinken and Joe Biden have adopted much of the anti-China rhetoric that the Trump government had used. With the US still imposing sanctions and heavy tariffs on Chinese goods, as well as continuing to attempt to keep Chinese tech down, it will take a rational diplomatic stance to end tensions caused by Trump’s trade war on the country. But this does not look likely, with Biden’s pick to head the Treasury Department, Janet Yellen, claiming this Tuesday that she would take on China’s “abusive, unfair and illegal practices”, a far cry from getting off to a peaceful start.
When it comes to Russia, the Biden administration has indicated their willingness to renew the Obama era ‘New START’ agreement, which is due to expire next month and is the sole remaining treaty of its kind, following Trump’s withdrawal from a number of nuclear-war averting agreements. On a negative note, Antony Blinken has indicated that they would consider including Georgia as a NATO ally, which could spark war, as well as agreeing on upping its supply of weapons and heavy investment to the Ukraine.
Also cause for concern is Joe Biden’s historic pick to lead the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, who, like Trump’s pick in 2017, James Mattis, required a waiver from congress due to not having been retired from the military for at least 7 years. Austin is a retired 4-star general, known for his roles in the Iraq war, Afghanistan and the US’s catastrophic strategy employed in Syria. He is widely recognized as the man who was the brains behind the US invasion of Baghdad, in April 2003, which led to a bloodbath. He also worked with the Obama-Biden administration during their second term in office. Congress approved the waiver and confirmed Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense on January 22nd.
But what is most concerning about this pick to lead the Pentagon, is the fact that a general has yet again been picked to lead in a role traditionally assigned to a civilian, indicating a possible intent to engage in a hawkish foreign policy agenda.
On the issue of Palestine-Israel, the Biden administration is indicating that they will pick up where Trump left off, in terms of destroying prospects for a so-called two-state solution. Antony Blinken has praised the Arab regime normalisation deals with Israel, on behalf of Biden’s government, pledging to take the initiative further. Biden has also already stated on record that he will keep the US embassy in Jerusalem, recognizing it as the capital of Israel, whilst Blinken stated that the US would be pledging “unconditional support” for Israel’s “defense.”
Despite claiming to be seeking a two-State solution, during the Senate Confirmation Hearing Blinken seemed to indicate that it wasn’t going to happen under this administration. It would also be impossible to achieve a peace settlement with the administration contradicting itself, by stating that it won’t hold Israel accountable for anything it does and supporting Arab normalisation, whilst claiming two states can be the only solution. If Arab regimes continue to normalize, then the top bargaining chip that could be used by the Palestinian Authority’s negotiating team is gone. This is the essential death of the ‘Arab Peace Initiative’, which sought to grant normalisation with Israel and Arab countries, in return for a viable two-state solution.
On top of this, as thousands of new illegal Israeli settler units have just been announced, to add to the tens of thousands last year, Biden and his aides have not said a single word. If Israel’s government, like any government, is not held accountable for its crimes, it becomes increasingly difficult to get it to stop.
Even when it comes to US-Iran relations, which could improve if Biden was to follow through on his promises of rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal or the JCPOA (yet this does not seem to be happening anytime soon), we are left to trust the words of Biden’s Secretary of State. The same Secretary of State who describes Iran as an enemy and the leading state sponsor of terrorism.
When it comes to ending the wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, this is also another let down for those who may have hoped to see change. Biden seems poised to maintain those wars, and their respective (and illegal) economic sanctions, in order to cripple adversarial economies.
Another concerning development are the rumors coming out of Washington that Biden will look to get more involved in Libya, a country that as Vice President he helped completely destroy in 2011. The US government attempting to assert its dominance in the country, over Russia and Turkey, may come with catastrophic consequences.
According to a top diplomat, quoted in Reuters, Biden will again recognize disgraced Venezuelan attempted coup-leader, Juan Guaido, as the “legitimate” President of Venezuela. This despite Guaido having virtually zero support on the ground in Venezuela. Today, in reality, president Nicolas Maduro is the elected leader, with the Venezuelan opposition having failed – with full US, UK, EU support – to overthrow him illegally. This has sparked many fears that Biden will perhaps launch a war against the country already suffering under murderous US sanctions.
Perhaps the only cause for hope left would be that the Biden Administration followed up on its promises of ending its support for the Saudi-led coalition’s war against Yemen. But even here, it is hard to know whether they will actually go through with this. It does seem that Biden’s tone is an anti-Saudi one, which would seem surprising to some, yet could have something to do with dictating oil prices and attempting to bully Riyadh. At this point it would be criminal if Biden was to not reverse Trump’s designation of Ansarallah (Houthis’) as a terrorist organisation, which if this remains in place, will block aid from reaching the number one humanitarian crisis on the planet, according to the UN.
So far, woke imperialism seems to be the strategy set forth by Joe Biden and his team, hardly one to celebrate for the global south. For those hoping to see a change in US foreign policy, unfortunately, all the early indicators would suggest that nothing will fundamentally change.