A divided government means Biden won’t be able to do much, except in one area where most Americans want change

Joe Biden

Summary List Placement

Recounts and court battles and Senate runoff races are yet to come, but the likeliest final conclusion of the 2020 election is a President Joe Biden entering office and serving with a narrowly Republican Senate, a Democratic House, and a conservative-majority Supreme Court. We’re probably back to divided government, at least for two years.

A partisan split like this typically means gridlock on the Hill and a steady stream of executive orders from the White House. For foreign policy, it should mean reform, restraint, and a pivot to peace.

American voters have been seeking peace with our presidential picks for years, after all. George W. Bush was elected promising to make the United States “humble” abroad, to reject nation building and decline to interfere in other nations’ affairs. Instead he invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, launched nation-building projects in both, and introduced drone warfare.

Barack Obama ran on a repudiation of the Iraq War and the Bush administration’s interventionism more broadly. He left office the only president in American history to complete two terms entirely at war, expanding American military intervention into Syria, Libya, and Yemen while maintaining it in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia.

Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 and 2020 alike by castigating these two predecessors for the foreign policy legacy they left him. He called “going into the Middle East” the “worst” and “most costly mistake in the history of our country,” promising again and again to end “endless wars,” especially the war in Afghanistan.

Now he appears due to shortly leave office without concluding a single conflict, even having vetoed multiple bipartisan congressional attempts to extricate the United States from exacerbating Yemen’s civil war and humanitarian crisis.

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And so we come to Biden, preparing to take office after likewise pledging to bring two decades of aimless, counterproductive, costly war and nation building to a close. While divided government may stymie many other portions of his agenda, it need pose no obstacle here. That’s so in two ways.

First, the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, but once a military intervention is already underway, the president’s authority as commander-in-chief means he can end it at will. Biden does not need a cooperative Senate to fulfill his promise to “end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East,” including “end[ing] our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.” Divided government is no impediment to Biden making good here.

Also very much under presidential purview, even with divided government, is Biden’s pledge to “elevate diplomacy as the premier tool of our global engagement.” Though he’ll need congressional help if he wants to increase the State Department budget or confirm new ambassadors, Biden can nominate diplomatic candidates more reliably than Trump has and fill lower-level roles without Senate consent.

But the likely GOP-held Senate will be involved in some of Biden’s staffing process, which is the second way divided government could move …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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