American policies under the Biden Administration

Joseph R Biden, on January 20 2021, took the oath of the 46th President of the United States of America. Some of the policies of the erstwhile President namely Donald Trump have weakened America’s global power, influence and created a power vacuum. The current president will fill the gap by reversing a few policies. However, traditional policies will be constant, with a little bit of change and with a different method of persuasion.

The policies to be changed are: the ‘Muslim ban,’ the Paris Agreement on climate change, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), US removal from World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN Human Rights Council and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was an agreement also referred to as the Iran Nuclear Deal, signed between Iran and P5+1 countries (US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) on July 14, 2015 in former President Obama’s era. The six countries agreed to lift sanctions imposed on Iran, giving it access to the global economy. In return, Iran agreed to take steps to curb its ability to make a nuclear bomb. The Trump administration, on May 8, 2018, unilaterally withdrew from the aforementioned agreement. Biden has shown his willingness for the revival of the accord. Despite it, the tougher stance of Washington on Iran would be constant.

Also, on day one, Biden rejoined the World Health Organisation (WHO), a UN agency that coordinates international health efforts. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from and cut funding to the WHO, limiting US engagement with the body over its failure to reduce Chinese influence. Already, Biden directed top US medical expert Anthony Fauci to speak to the body. Fauci confirmed that the United States will also join COVAX, a WHO-led initiative to distribute two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses around the world by the end of the year.

The current president stated during his campaign that he would rejoin the UN Human Rights Council, a body the Trump administration pulled out of due to alleged anti-Israel bias and a membership that allegedly included human rights abusers, such as China and Venezuela.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was the flagship of President Barack Obama’s strategic pivot to Asia. He treated trade deals as a priority during his tenure, and this particular deal would have strengthened America’s position in the Asia-Pacific region, where China is growing its influence. Before President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States in 2017, the TPP was set to become the world’s largest free trade deal, covering 40 percent of the global economy. The process of reentering into said accord will be a reality in upcoming times.

The new American leadership will surely work to restore America’s global leadership role as well as the image which the country lost in the last few years. Trump was not in favour of it, therefore, the ‘America First’ slogan was chanted on every platform. On many eves, Trump stated that Washington would not play the role of ‘policeman’ in the globe.

What is unlikely to change is Washington’s traditional approach towards China, India, North Korea and the Middle East. Washington considers Beijing as a major security threat due to not only its rapid economic and military rise but because it became a challenger of the United States on most global fronts. It might be possible that the Biden administration’s handling of it might be different from that of Donald Trump but the containment ring will not be prevented. India, the new western ally, will be advocated to pursue the prevention of the rise of China in Asia-Pacific. India has just signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, the final of the four foundational agreements with the US, and there is bipartisan consensus in Washington on India as a strategic partner. Not much is going to change on that count, unless Biden decides to take note of the grave human and religious rights violations in India.

As far as policy regarding North Korea is concerned, the country will face the same tougher stance of Washington as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un not only called for more advanced nuclear weapons and labelled the United States as their ‘biggest enemy’ but, in 2019 he called Biden a “rabid dog” that needed to be “beaten to death with a stick.”. Whereas, Biden called Kim a “thug” during the election campaign. It projects the tougher stance of Washington on North Korea.

The Middle-Eastern policy will also be the same with changes to the lesser extent. the Israel friendly policy will remain the same. Biden has constantly declared “an ironclad commitment to Israel’s security”, and it will be very unlikely that he could reverse Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Indeed, it is likely to ease up on Iran, while sticking to the fundamentals of the US’ approach to Iran, which sees Tehran as a troublemaker in the Greater Middle East and a threat to Israel. He talked about ending US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen but, it is unlikely that he could move away from traditional ally, Saudi-Arabia, a policy that is structurally guided, given several factors in the Middle-East. The normalisation of Arab-Israel ties will continue further.

Biden’s policy of engagement with Pakistan is as traditional as it was before. Not only the new US government but the nominated defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, also called for only military engagement with Pakistan on key issues such as Afghanistan and others. Indeed, Pakistan will advocate with the US or any other major power whenever it comes to the peace process but it will not support any such containment ring. The change in international scenario changed Pakistan’s aim and objective towards economic security. The country is looking to play the role of the regional economic hub, in contemporary times. Better engagement with the US can be possible through a massive economic investment in Pakistan. This is in Pakistan’s national interest.

Jai Kumar Dhirani
The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at jai.dhirani@yahoo.com.

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