Biden’s challenges abroad

President Trump pulled the U.S. back from global leadership. Can Joe Biden restore it? Here’s everything you need to know:

What is Biden facing?
Trump’s “America First” foreign policy was a radical departure from the multilateral approach of the Obama administration, and it has transformed the international landscape. The U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, the World Health Organization, and the U.N. human rights commission, and it unilaterally withdrew from the multiparty Iran nuclear deal and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia. After four years of being berated by Trump, European allies no longer feel they can depend on the U.S. or its commitment to NATO — although they have, at Trump’s insistence, begun to spend more on defense. The U.S.-China relationship is at its most tense in decades. Both North Korea and Iran are further along in their nuclear programs than they were when Trump took office, with a jubilant Kim Jong Un recently showing off a new ICBM that can reach every city in the U.S.

What will he take on first?
Biden, who has decades of foreign policy experience as vice president and as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, wants to reassert American leadership on the biggest crises facing the globe. Most pressing is the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. will rejoin the World Health Organization and seek to coordinate an international plan to distribute vaccines. Climate change is the other major challenge. Once back in the Paris climate accord, Biden wants to lead global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a $2 trillion clean energy and infrastructure plan. In his very first week in office, Biden plans to save the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty, New START, which expires in February. While Trump wanted to alter the pact, Russian President Vladimir Putin is willing to extend it without changes for five years; Biden will likely agree. But Biden will resume robust support for Ukraine, which is still battling Russia, and it’s possible he’ll further sanction Moscow for its attempts to interfere in U.S. elections.

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What about U.S. allies?
Repairing damaged U.S. alliances is central to Biden’s plans — but many allies are wary. Some Europeans, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, say that America’s retreat from international leadership began not with Trump, but under the Obama administration, when the U.S. failed to act against Syria’s use of chemical weapons. Even if Biden is wholeheartedly committed to the defense of traditional allies, they are keenly aware the American people could well vote for another isolationist in four years. Europeans can “no longer take for granted that they can trust the U.S., even on basic things,” says former Norwegian premier Gro Harlem Brundtland. Europe itself has changed: Brexit means that the U.K., our closest ally, no longer has a voice in the EU, and London is desperate for a favorable trade deal with the U.S. that it may not get.

What about the Middle East?
Like Trump, …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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