All outgoing presidents of the United States do. The temptation to try to extend his legacy or condition the steps of his successors is too strong, especially in foreign policy.
A day before handing over power to George Bush, Bill Clinton signed the statute that constituted the International Criminal Court knowing that it would probably not be ratified. The Republican, for his part, sealed an agreement with Iraq to ensure the US presence in the country for three more years and thus tie the hands of his successor, elected on the promise of ending their wars.
Barack Obama, for his part, ceded the White House to Trump with a string of last-minute actions that included the historic decision to abstain in a United Nations resolution against the expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory. Nor is Donald Trump going to sit idly by until January 20, when Joe Biden must take office.
Withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, not agreed with his allies, is surely only the first of his decisions to place obstacles in the way of Biden, especially to boycott his plans to return to the nuclear deal with Iran. The assassination of scientist Mohsen Fajrizadeh will make such a purpose even more difficult, which the president-elect conditions on compliance with the limits set out in the 2015 pact. The environment has changed. Although unresolved, the Palestinian conflict is no longer central and several Arab countries have normalized relations with Israel, united by their opposition to Iran.
“We are in a totally different world from the one the Obama-Biden administration faced,” the president-elect has told those who believe that his term will be a continuation of Obama. “Trump has changed the landscape. What America first has really meant is America alone, “added Biden, who this week introduced members of his future national security and foreign policy team, all advocates of multilateralism and supporters of a more active role for the United States. .
His goal, in Biden’s words, “Restore global and moral leadership” from the country. Lead “with the strength of your example, not the example of your strength” and renew traditional alliances, replaced by Trump with nods to authoritarian regimes. But his actions come up against more than just the Republican’s legacy: the general desire to stop wanting to be the world’s policeman and the consensus between Republicans and Democrats on the need to maintain a hard line with China.
During the campaign, Biden opted for a progressive end to the American presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, depriving Trump of what was to be one of his lines of attack, the Washington establishment’s fondness for wars. Some analysts believe that the hasty departure of troops will fuel instability, discourage peace between the Taliban and Kabul, and endanger the remaining troops. which may force Biden to rethink the plan.
Regarding China, the changes will affect the instruments more than the ends. This dossier may be the first in which the new US administration carries out its promise to return to work with its traditional allies and seeks European support to pressure Beijing on trade and human rights issues. Biden will inherit from Trump an unprecedented tax architecture against Chinese exports; In the current context of economic crisis, Washington may be interested in eliminating some tariffs, but the president-elect has only spoken of “reviewing” them.
Biden’s new security team combines the idealistic vision without fear of intervention of Antony Blinken in defense of the values that the United States represents with a pragmatic vocation. Biden has “tasked us with reimagining our national security” so that “Make life easier for working families in America”, has explained Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor nominee. At 44, he is the youngest person ever appointed for the position.
“Biden and his team have an opportunity to apply good policies while restricting US military power from the White House”, claim in F Foreign Policy analysts Benjamin Friedman and Stephen Wertheim, linked to think tanks in favor of a more restrained American foreign policy.
Beatriz Navarro. The vanguard