What to expect from Joe Biden in global politics?

A US-American view

by Stephen J. Sniegoski, Ph.D.*, Washington D. C.

 Favorable opinion of the US plummeted when Donald Trump took office in 2016 and remained that way during his term in office, according to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank that conducts surveys on a wide range of issues and is generally seen to be accurate.1 Most European countries believe that, with the election of Joe Biden, the United States is now in line with Europe, no longer being something of an isolationist as Europeans regarded Trump to be. Trump, however, was far from being an isolationist since he never withdrew American troops from NATO or many of the myriad of troops that the US has stationed around the world. What Trump did was to avoid wars a little better than his recent predecessors in the oval office.  However, it now appears that Biden will likely expect Europeans to follow the US in its wars as it has done before, which many Europeans have stringently opposed.  

“Trump derangement syndrome” …

It should be added that Trump was attacked by the media for being too friendly toward Russia, some going so far as to say that he was actually a Russian agent and also that Russia made Trump president in 2016. According to Philip Giraldi, a former intelligence officer for the CIA, “Trump, to be sure, is the heart of the problem as he has consistently made bad, overly belligerent decisions when better and less abrasive options were available, something that should not necessarily always be blamed on his poor choice of advisers. But one also should not discount the likelihood that the dysfunction in Trump is in part comprehensible, stemming from his belief that he has numerous powerful enemies who have been out to destroy him since before he was nominated as the GOP’s [Republicans] presidential candidate. This hatred of all things Trump has been manifested in the neoconservative ‘Nevertrump’ forces led by Bill Kristol and by the ‘Trump derangement syndrome’2 prominent on the political left.”3

… and the Deep State

Giraldi continues, “And then there is the Deep State, which also worked with the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama to destroy the Trump presidency even before it began. One can define Deep State in a number of ways, ranging from a ‘soft’ version which accepts that there is an Establishment that has certain self-serving objectives that it works collectively to promote to something harder, an actual infrastructure that meets together and connives to remove individuals and sabotage policies that it objects to. The Deep State in either version includes senior government officials, business leaders and, perhaps most importantly, the managed media, which promotes a corrupted version of ‘good governance’ that in turn influences the public.”4 

No one currently dares 
to be “Russia-friendly” in the USA

The claim that Trump was a Russian agent should have been refuted by his allowing the United States forces to kill hundreds of Russian mercenaries in Syria.5,6 
    And “[i]n its newly released Nuclear Posture Review, the Defense Department has focused much of its multibillion nuclear effort on an updated nuclear deterrence focused on Russia.”7 
    Furthermore, “the Trump administration imposed harsher sanctions on Russia than anything ever done by the Obama Administration. President Trump actually took steps against Russian interests that Obama refused to take like providing tank-killing Javelin missiles to Ukrainian armed forces as a means to deter Russian cross-border incursions with Russian armored forces that the Ukrainians were otherwise powerless to stop.”8 
    Nonetheless, this did not discredit the U.S. mainstream’s idea that Trump was, at the very least, pro-Russian, or an actual Russian agent. For example, a book by an ex-FBI agent said Trump was a national security threat.9 Moreover, a former KGB agent said Russian Intelligence had cultivated Trump for decades.10 As a result, no mainstream media personality would dare to say that it might be a wise idea to be friendly with Russia rather than threatening it with war.

Biden wants to “earn 
back the position of leadership”

Getting back to Biden, who told America’s European allies at the Virtual Munich Security Conference on February 20 that “America is back” repudiating former President Donald Trump’s alleged nationalist/ “isolationist” approach to the world. Biden said that the “past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship.” He emphasised that his administration is “determined to reengage with Europe” and to “earn back our position of trust and leadership.”11
    Biden emphasised a hard-line approach to America’s three main enemies: China, Russia, and Iran. This threesome approach was reminiscent of George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil – which included Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. 

China was America’s foremost enemy

Biden stated that China is America’s foremost enemy, and said the U.S. and Europe must “prepare together” for a longterm strategic competition with it. Behind the China threat is the danger from Russia.  Biden opined that Russia has caused serious difficulties for America’s European democracies and sought to tear apart the NATO alliance. Finally, he said that Iran’s destabilising activities throughout the Middle East had to be effectively thwarted.12

Biden counts on the “hawks”

Biden relies heavily on his long-time advisers and thus has picked Antony Blinken as Secretary of State, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Jake Sullivan as National Security Adviser, Samantha Power as head of USAID and retired General Lloyd J. Austinas Secretary of Defense. All of the appointees are regarded as “hawks” and have a personal history working with Biden when he was in Congress and as Vice President. 
    Secretary of State Blinken has served with Biden for almost two decades. Blinken was Deputy Secretary of State from 2015 to 2017 and Deputy National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2015 under President Barack Obama and Vice-President Biden. Blinken has held senior foreign policy positions in two administrations over three decades.

Secretary of State 
Blinken – a war advocate

Blinken has been a hard-liner, supporting the war on Iraq in 2003; advocating U.S. intervention in Libya’s 2011 civil war, even though Biden opposed it; and calling for a far greater U.S. military presence in Syria’s civil war and opposing a withdrawal of U.S. troops from that ravaged country.13 
    In 2014, Blinken advocated isolating Russia after the Crimean Peninsula joined the Russian Federation in February–March 2014. Blinken explained his goal thus: “One way President Putin and Russia define power is by the geopolitical influence that Russia is able to obtain. And undermining Russia politically in the international community and isolating it politically diminishes that power.”14 

Not ready to accept a multipolar world

Biden seems to assume that NATO members would willingly follow the goals of the U.S. leadership.  This is highly unlikely.  Biden and his coterie do not appear ready to accept a multipolar world, believing that the U.S. is still the leader of the globe.  Of course, the U.S. has tried to drag Europeans into unnecessary wars for the last twenty years and has not always been successful. For example, the only countries contributing troops to invade Iraq in 2003 besides the U.S. were the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland. European powerhouses Germany and France did not provide any aid and there was even considerable opposition to the war in Britain, America’s most important ally.15 

Only “transatlantic solidarity” again?

An article in the journal Foreign Affairs, the organ of the establishment Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), begins by referring to a roseate future: “Relations between Europe and the United States are poised for a dramatic rebound now that Joe Biden has taken office.  Goodbye Donald Trump’s America First and the damage it has done to the nation’s interests and international standing. Welcome back a brand of US statecraft based on respect for and teamwork with democratic allies. Biden’s electoral victory and the course correction he has already begun are poised to repair America’s reputation abroad and reinstate transatlantic solidarity.”16,17 

What do people in Europe think?

But the author of this article, Charles A. Kupchan, acknowledged that many people in Europe think like Trumpian Americans, as he writes: “Despite Biden’s defeat of Trump, populism, nativism, and illiberalism remain alive and well on both sides of the Atlantic. The sacking of the US Congress on January 6 made that amply clear. Europe faces its own warning signs, including Brexit, Italy’s ongoing political instability, and the strength of illiberal governments in Hungary and Poland. That Angela Merkel will soon step down adds to the uncertainty.”18 

How many “enemies” at once?

Nevertheless, the Biden administration has so far stuck to the policy of declaring China and Russia to be the enemy, and it is not certain that there will actually be any détente on the Iran issue either. In the USA itself, all this is not uncontroversial. The political position that finds the most approval is that China is a competitor for world power and therefore also an enemy. Controversy surrounds the question of whether it makes sense to tangle with China and Russia at the same time. Not to mention the question of what significance it would have if there were no improvement in relations with Iran. 
    Parallel to these political questions, there is an intensive discussion in the USA regarding the areas of armament in which new money should be invested in the future. This also involves the question of rearmament in space.
    One thing is for certain: the signals are not pointing to détente.

Robert Gates about Joe Biden

About Joe Biden, President Obama’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated in his memoir: “He’s a man of integrity, incapable of hiding what he really thinks, and one of those rare people you know you could turn to for help in a personal crisis. Still, I think he’s been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”•

2Trump derangement syndrome (TDS) is a pejorative term for criticism or negative reactions to former US President Donald Trump that are perceived as irrational and bear little relation to Trump’s actual policy positions or actions of his administration. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump_derangement_syndrome [Editor’s note]
18https://www.cfr.org/article/four-critical-issues-biden-and-europe; https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/19/biden-europe-meeting-g7-leaders-470104

*​​​​​​​Stephen J. Sniegoski, Ph.D., earned his doctorate in American history, with a focus on American foreign policy, at the University of Maryland. His focus on the neoconservative involvement in American foreign policy antedates September 11, and his first major work on the subject, "The War on Iraq: Conceived in Israel" was published February 10, 2003, more than a month before the American attack. He is author of numerous articles on, political philosophy, World War II, communism, and the American war on Iraq. He is the author of “The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel” (2008). 

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