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Thread: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

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    Default A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    By all accounts, Biden’s foreign policy team is shaping up to be Obama 2.0. That comes with pros and cons of course. The biggest advantage is embodied by Antony Blinken as Secretary of State. He seems to be committed to wielding decades of foreign policy experience toward continuing the pivot to Asia, which to me is nice and if anything behind schedule. He says all the right things about American leadership and the free world and uniting against the rising authoritarian threat of China:
    As geopolitical competition intensifies, we must supplement diplomacy with deterrence. Words alone will not dissuade the Vladi*mir Putins and Xi Jinpings of this world. Recognizing their traditional imperial “spheres of interest” will only embolden them to expand farther while betraying the sovereign nations that fall under their dominion. Because we face real budget constraints, we have to make tough choices about how best to defend our interests. We’ll have to strike the right balance of modernization, readiness, asymmetric capabilities and force structure. Whatever formula we choose, we must convince rivals and adversaries that trying to achieve their objectives by force will fail and that they have more to gain through peaceful cooperation and economic development than through aggression.

    Going forward, we have to be judicious in our use of force; to focus on the aftermath of war, as well as the war itself; to involve allies; to work with Congress and insist that it play its constitutional role. Americans need to know that if we use force, it has been carefully thought out — and by more than just a handful of officials. They deserve to know what our objectives are and to have reasonable confidence that we can achieve them.

    Americans have never backed away from the challenges posed by competition and innovation. Trying to revive the industrial economy of the 1950s is impossible; nor should we embrace the protectionism of the 1930s that helped destroy the global economy and hasten world war. When we pull out of trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we hand a win to countries such as China. If we opt out, they will shape global trade and innovation to their benefit, not ours.

    We should insist on competing in a rules-based system that protects our people from the aggressive state capitalism of modern autocracies. We should use our market power to set the highest standards for protecting workers, the environment, intellectual property and middle-class wages, while insisting on transparency and basic commercial reciprocity. In other words, we’ll treat you the way you treat us.

    We also need to stay ahead of the competition in new technologies, especially artificial intelligence, which will reshape the future global balance of power. We cannot cede to China or anyone else a technological sphere of influence. To maintain our edge, we must preserve the free flow of ideas and international collaboration that spark innovation, but we also need to crack down on espionage, technology transfer and intellectual property theft. Our tech firms need to take more responsibility for national security, both in preventing foreign efforts to manipulate our political system, and protecting data and privacy. If they won’t, government will.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...820_story.html
    The picture gets a bit murkier, though, when combined with musings from national security adviser Jake Sullivan:
    Today’s national security experts need to move beyond the prevailing neoliberal economic philosophy of the past 40 years. This philosophy can be summarized as reflexive confidence in competitive markets as the surest route to maximizing both individual liberty and economic growth and a corresponding belief that the role of government is best confined to securing those competitive markets through enforcing property rights, only intervening in the supposedly rare instance of market failure.

    U.S. firms will continue to lose ground in the competition with Chinese companies if Washington continues to rely so heavily on private sector research and development, which is directed toward short-term profit-making applications rather than long-term, transformative breakthroughs. And the United States will be more insecure if it lacks the manufacturing base necessary to produce essential goods—from military technologies to vaccines—in a crisis.

    Third, policymakers must move beyond the received wisdom that every trade deal is a good trade deal and that more trade is always the answer. The details matter. Whatever one thinks of the TPP, the national security community backed it unquestioningly without probing its actual contents. U.S. trade policy has suffered too many mistakes over the years to accept pro-deal arguments at face value.
    A better approach to trade, then, should involve more aggressively targeting the tax havens and loopholes that undermine many of the theoretical gains from trade. It should also involve a laser focus on what improves wages and creates high-paying jobs in the United States, rather than making the world safe for corporate investment. (Why, for example, should it be a U.S. negotiating priority to open China’s financial system for Goldman Sachs?) And it should connect foreign trade policy to domestic investments in workers and communities so that trade adjustment is not a hollow promise.

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/07...erts-can-help/
    What can be seen here is an emerging pragmatism that talks a big game when projecting a restoration of American leadership, but in fact suggests managing US decline by shying away from preserving free trade and military security commitments, and adopting a “if you can’t beat em join em” approach to competing with China’s state-run economy. This is deeply unsettling, but then, so was Trump’s protectionism. Whether or not Blinken’s “free trade/TPP is good” narrative, or Sullivan’s “free trade is bad for workers” narrative wins out, the fundamental shift away from American global leadership toward an inward focus seems here to stay.

    It’s conspicuous that Sullivan’s “good debt/bad debt” narrative avoids discussion of the military, while Blinken talks about “balance” and “budget constraints.” Combine this with Biden’s choice to announce diplomatic posts ahead of military, and the message is clear. While a focus on diplomacy is a foregone conclusion in almost any Democrat Administration, talk of boosting public investment in just about everything but the military could hardly come at a worse time. In terms of “good debt,” ROI on global security commitments seems to be at least as solid as the nebulous plans to increase the government’s involvement in the economy:
    U.S. overseas security commitments have a positive, statistically significant effect on U.S. bilateral trade. Doubling U.S. security treaties would expand U.S. bilateral trade by an estimated 34 percent, and doubling U.S. troop commitments overseas would expand such trade by up to 15 percent.

    Trade losses from a 50-percent retrenchment in overseas commitments would reduce U.S. trade in goods and services by approximately $577 billion per year. This reduction in trade would likely reduce U.S. gross domestic product by $490 billion per year.

    The economic losses from retrenchment are conservatively estimated to be more than three times any potential gains.

    https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9912.html
    Meanwhile, US military infrastructure and readiness is in crisis.

    https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/201...-worse/155858/

    https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News...y-leaders-say/

    The best case seems to be a return to the Obama era, when the “budget constraints” Blinken talks about, and uncertainty as to the Administration’s level of commitment to basic priorities had a marked effect on military readiness that continues to impact the DoD today and going forward.

    https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/DOD_budgetary_turmoil_final.pdf

    https://breakingdefense.com/2016/08/...eus-are-wrong/

    A return to diplomatic engagement and multilateralism will be a breath of fresh air as the Biden Admin gets off the ground, and the calibre of personnel being brought forward suggests that effort will be at least somewhat successful. However, an equivalent commitment to restoring the US military doesn’t seem to be there, and China has meanwhile sustained an increasingly serious commitment to military investment to facilitate the regime’s expansionist plans.

    https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/202...-looks/164060/

    All the diplomatic pressure in the world won’t deter rising authoritarian powers so long as the USM is more suited to preserving the peacetime status quo of yesterday’s unipolar world than to warfighting, and this is a key area to which the Biden Admin seems deliberately averse.

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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    I expect business as usual. Depite popular belief the president doesn't and can't change much of how things are going. The main power is still the administration and the intelligence agencies. The president is just the guy who signs the papers most of the times.
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    I expect business as usual. Depite popular belief the president doesn't and can't change much of how things are going. The main power is still the administration and the intelligence agencies. The president is just the guy who signs the papers most of the times.
    This is the one area where the President can change everything. Literally with a word. Foreign policy is usually the most obvious expression of an administration's intent.



    I also disagree with the 'decline' mantra - even a 'managed' decline. I disagree that growth in a new power automatically means decline in existing powers - particularly in our current mutually-assured-destruction era, and I don't think there has been a decline in the US - a change certainly, but not a decline. Russia is case in point - they have economically and militarily shrunk and seemed in obvious decline in the 1990s, but then reshaped themselves into a smaller entity that is able to express significantly more power than they di in the 90s - above what their economic potential should allow. Although decline narratives like this can in fact become self-creating if those who live there start to believe it and behave accordingly...

    I'll get into this further down the thread... but I think Biden has been handed a gift horse in many respects. He has been handed Trump era trade policy which he can use as leverage to ensure American interests with a velvet glove rather than Trump's small hammer - and people will be thankful to him abroad. He does have major hurdles to overcome, and both adversaries and allies won't just welcome the US back to institutions that it abandoned easily. There needs to be some level of accountability - that the US can't just pop in and out of long term multilateral institutions whenever they like - the idea that the US can become 'leader' again will be challenged and welcomed at the same time by both friends and enemies. And while European allies haven't enjoyed Trump's challenge, Japan and Taiwan have - so even amongst friends it will be an interesting re-balance to make. There are plenty of positives to take out of Trump's era that can be moderated.

    Analogy if you please: There's trick I used to use when I worked in a music store as a teen. When a customer asked me to turn the music volume down, I'd "accidentally" turn it up. Then when I turned it back down, I could actually leave it higher than it initially was but the relative perception had changed, the requester was thankful. This is the situation Biden is in, if he plays it well. He has considerable room to move on international issues where he will be seen as 'nicer' than Trump, but will be able to leave a lot of Trump's actual policy in place (or will have to because of the domestic situation) - when he wouldn't have been able to take policy to that volume if he had followed Obama directly.

    The Council on Foreign Relations has done a couple of good commentaries on their podcast about what they expect out of Biden. Some might be interested in them... https://www.cfr.org/podcasts/presidents-inbox.
    Last edited by antaeus; November 30, 2020 at 06:32 PM.
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    This is the one area where the President can change everything. Literally with a word. Foreign policy is usually the most obvious expression of an administration's intent.
    And yet both Trump and Obama were unable to do most of the things they promised.
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Adrian View Post
    And yet both Trump and Obama were unable to do most of the things they promised.
    Your comment wasn't about the effectiveness of a president, but that "Despite popular belief the president doesn't and can't change much of how things are going. The main power is still the administration and the intelligence agencies"

    When in reality, a key identifying element for both Obama and Trump's presidencies was how they approached foreign relations. While caveating that I'm in no way qualified to go too deep into international relations theory, both presidents were fairly classic examples of their broadly preferred approaches, and those approaches could not be mistaken for anything other than reflections on their personal ideas on leadership in general. Sure a Secretary of State might make their mark on particular issues, but cynicism aside, as we've seen, nobody, be they the CIA or Pentagon or whomever, gets to do international relations in a way that the President doesn't approve of if they want to keep their jobs.

    Obama sought to use his own version of a liberal international relations approach to build relationships through multilateral diplomacy and consensus. This is a signature approach for his presidency and stems directly from how he views leadership in general - he literally spent the first months of his presidency travelling the world telling everyone who would listen that he was ready to work with them, as opposed to the zero-sum approach of GWB. The period of time of his presidency will be remembered globally for the way the US sought to build consensus and broad partnerships - for example the Iran deal and the multinational US led response to ISIS. He sought to use US strength to influence issues globally through engagement and discussion. If anything, he was gun shy - When he did draw lines in the sand with other countries, he was so out of his comfort zone that he couldn't even pull the trigger when his lines were crossed - so his effectiveness in this approach is another issue entirely, and probably reflects the difficulty of consensus based politics.

    Trump's approach to international relations was much more that of realism - and compared to the realist neocons of the last generation - bullishly so. The US under his leadership has pro-actively sought out confrontations in order to gain concessions. Trump identified every country as potential competitor, and rarely sought consensus except in bilateral relations - which is invariably a consensus with the US view, not a middle ground. He has sought to undermine multilateral organisations from the UN to the EU, WHO (and the rest of the acronyms). In line with his general victim personality, he sees multilateralism as a way for other countries to 'gang up' on the US. This is how Trump does business. And if any of his appointees have threatened this, they've been fired on Twitter. There is no secret agencies pulling his strings. There is just Trump. Again, he hasn't always been effective, but that is a reflection of the fact that he is dealing with other world leaders whom all answer to their own populations.

    Following on from such distinct approaches, Biden really does have an opportunity to build a new pathway, where he can take advantage of the difficult relationships Trump built, to get some of the concessions Obama sought. Biden's most difficult problem, is reshaping foreign policy in a way that doesn't turn off middle American voters who have gotten used to Trump 'appearing to be' dictating terms. To show that stepping back from some of Trump's lines in the sand can be advantageous for Americans workers and businesses.
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by antaeus View Post
    Biden's most difficult problem, is reshaping foreign policy in a way that doesn't turn off middle American voters who have gotten used to Trump 'appearing to be' dictating terms.
    Well, they need to go through a detoxification process.
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by antaeus View Post
    This is the one area where the President can change everything. Literally with a word. Foreign policy is usually the most obvious expression of an administration's intent.

    I also disagree with the 'decline' mantra - even a 'managed' decline. I disagree that growth in a new power automatically means decline in existing powers - particularly in our current mutually-assured-destruction era, and I don't think there has been a decline in the US - a change certainly, but not a decline. Russia is case in point - they have economically and militarily shrunk and seemed in obvious decline in the 1990s, but then reshaped themselves into a smaller entity that is able to express significantly more power than they di in the 90s - above what their economic potential should allow. Although decline narratives like this can in fact become self-creating if those who live there start to believe it and behave accordingly...
    Comparing the US’ situation to Russian decline and repositioning after the fall of the USSR is an interesting anecdote to include if the point is that the US isn’t in decline. Russia is able to punch above its weight in large part due to asymmetrical exploitation of US weaknesses. Use other descriptors if you wish. In relative terms, the opportunities and flexibility you describe are the result of the US declining from a unipolar superpower and world leader to a great power with peer competitor(s). In absolute terms, there are any number of irrecoverable foreign policy disasters, the aforementioned crisis of military readiness, as well as the fact US adversaries routinely cross with impunity supposed “red lines” set by the US and/or US led organizations, including economic sanctions that have failed to curtail the belligerent activities of regimes like Iran and Russia. Economically the US is declining in terms of competitiveness and other measures in the global economy. In terms of behavior, the US is increasingly unable or unwilling to proactively maintain global security and free trade, and Trump was as much a symptom as a cause of this. Both political parties are moving away from those twin pillars of policy that have defined American power since the end of the Cold War.

    In any case, Biden will likely spend his first term playing catch up. Expertise is always preferable to anti-intellectualism, but I don’t expect the kind of comprehensive actions needed to reverse course from the same people who got us where we are.
    Obama sought to use his own version of a liberal international relations approach to build relationships through multilateral diplomacy and consensus. This is a signature approach for his presidency and stems directly from how he views leadership in general - he literally spent the first months of his presidency travelling the world telling everyone who would listen that he was ready to work with them, as opposed to the zero-sum approach of GWB. The period of time of his presidency will be remembered globally for the way the US sought to build consensus and broad partnerships - for example the Iran deal and the multinational US led response to ISIS. He sought to use US strength to influence issues globally through engagement and discussion. If anything, he was gun shy - When he did draw lines in the sand with other countries, he was so out of his comfort zone that he couldn't even pull the trigger when his lines were crossed - so his effectiveness in this approach is another issue entirely, and probably reflects the difficulty of consensus based politics.

    Trump's approach to international relations was much more that of realism - and compared to the realist neocons of the last generation - bullishly so. The US under his leadership has pro-actively sought out confrontations in order to gain concessions. Trump identified every country as potential competitor, and rarely sought consensus except in bilateral relations - which is invariably a consensus with the US view, not a middle ground. He has sought to undermine multilateral organisations from the UN to the EU, WHO (and the rest of the acronyms). In line with his general victim personality, he sees multilateralism as a way for other countries to 'gang up' on the US. This is how Trump does business. And if any of his appointees have threatened this, they've been fired on Twitter. There is no secret agencies pulling his strings. There is just Trump. Again, he hasn't always been effective, but that is a reflection of the fact that he is dealing with other world leaders whom all answer to their own populations.

    Following on from such distinct approaches, Biden really does have an opportunity to build a new pathway, where he can take advantage of the difficult relationships Trump built, to get some of the concessions Obama sought. Biden's most difficult problem, is reshaping foreign policy in a way that doesn't turn off middle American voters who have gotten used to Trump 'appearing to be' dictating terms. To show that stepping back from some of Trump's lines in the sand can be advantageous for Americans workers and businesses.
    IMO the respective shortcomings of Obama and Trump were in part a culmination of failures from previous administrations that translate to diminished American power, hard and soft (Obama’s red lines that turned out to more of a suggestion, Trump’s tough talk that was mostly ignored). I agree Biden has a chance to chart a new course, but I suspect that will look more like a former global leader settling in to a new normal than a resurgence of the US-led world order. I think if Biden can at least manage to rejoin TPP in his first term and convince traditional allies to cooperate with the US on China issues, he can consider that a win. The US is drawing down in the Middle East already anyway, though I doubt we’ll ever actually leave the region completely under the current circumstances.

    What is really needed is at least a coherent, enforceable, long term US foreign policy. Biden has a chance to establish some baselines on that front, and doing so (or not) will be a key factor in determining the US’ continued role as a global player vs an increasingly regional one. He has access to the experts and career professionals needed for such an endeavor. Domestic politics, however, provides few guarantees as to the kind of even basic consensus that would safeguard these baselines from one administration to the next.

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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    It will be business as usual. Trooper overseas and America breaking everything it touches.
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Trump literally destroyed a ten year project with a severe betraying act towards Kurds and he boosted Erdoğan, who expanded an authoritarian Turkey using jihadist proxies.

    I at least expect Biden to pull an Obama on the Kurdish question and pressure Turkey to democratize. The last 4 years had been really tough in Turkey.

    Quoting myself:

    In evaluating a different impact of the election;

    The past week had been mind boggling in Turkey. There seems to be a sudden conflict within the factions that have taken over the state under Erdoğan's system. The coalition Erdoğan built through ultra-nationalists (murderous Gray Wolves who controls the lower ranks of the security as if it is a paramilitary faction as well as the underworld), Islamists and Eurasianists(pro-Russian military-juidiciary elite) who made their bets on a Trump win are at a massive breakdown.

    In Turkey, we call this the Biden Effect. Just to give you an idea of how important the liberal American presence is to this word, just in this last week:

    * AKP's Islamist deep state which we call the Pelikan faction, under the control of Erdoğan's son-in-law who had strong ties to Kushner has resigned.

    *The second arm of the AKP's government under Abdülhamid Gül made an announcement saying that Turkey will go into a period of reform as our juidiciary has turned into a place where politics decide the outcomes.

    *A high ranking AKP official came out to a mainstream news channel, announced that freedom of speech in Turkey is in a terrible situation, that the reasons for Kurdish party's leader Selahattin Demirtaş being in jail for the past 4 years is beyond ridiculous and childish and that he can be released soon. He also said that the liberal philantrophist Osman Kavala whom the AKP government calls the "Red Soros" might be released.

    Following these rapid change in tone, other factions of the party launched various debates through their groups in media and politics (they control it completely anyways). A mob-boss who has ties to Turkish deep state and Gray Wolves that was trained by the Turkish intelligence back in 1980s to murder and kidnap leftists was released 2 years ago. He openly threatened the opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu to show the groups that appear to want reform that they will not allow a turn to the West!

    * And finally today, Erdoğan came out and said that Turkey's future lies in Europe. İbrahim Kalın, the spokesman for AKP is all over Europe the past week and he announced that Europe is Turkey's strategic ally.

    Anyone who has been following Turkish politics just a little, very little, can understand how crazy of a 180 degree turn this is...all in one week following the Democrat victory seeming certain.

    I hope the people now understand better just how much of a menace Trump administration was. His harm was not only to the American democracy, the climate and pluralistic political ideologies dominating the world...he was one of the main reasons for whole world pluging into dictatorships that ruined the lives of many.
    To me, it is obvious that we simply lost 4 years of progressive, liberal, democratic development and fell into radicalism, warfare, jihadism, ultranationalism all over the region because of this guy's stupidity. One phone call from Erdoğan that adressed his ego properly and he burned the 10 year work of Kurds in the middle east towards creating a democratic, secular political system...handed it to jihadis in a day.

    I can't believe people still back this guy....
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    I don't think any other administration would have treated the problem in a different manner. There's no strategic reason for risking the American-Turkish alliance for the sake of the Syrian Kurds. Firstly, the importance of the latter is minimal, compared to that of Turkey. Their primary goal was to contribute to the fall of the Islamic State and simultaneously prevent the Syrian government from taking back eastern Syria. At a significant extent, the Kurds achieved their purpose, capturing the provincial capital of Raqqa, the Tabqa dam and the desert oilfields, which have drastically curtailed the capabilities of the Syrian Republic to economically recover. It wasn't a total victory, because the Syrians were actually able to be the first to liberate the western bank of the Euphrates and to restore contact with Iraq, but overall the operation was sucessful.

    However, that pales in comparison to the strategic and economic benefits of a close cooperation with Turkey, whose strength has been gradually increasing since the 2000s, especially nowadays, when the US face more determined competition from China. Moreover, the Syrian Kurds are much weaker and totally dependent on Washington's goodwill. The inequality of their relationship means that the Americans can easily afford to be less generous to the Kurds, because the latter rely so heavily on them that they will inevitably swallow any "offenses". After all, that's what happened when Trump "betrayed" the Kurds. There was some whinning, but overall they accepted the affront*. Regarding the comment on Turkey's jihadist proxies, a large number of these organisations and their membership used to be on the payroll of the US under the Democrat presidency of Obama. In fact, Turkey became more heavily involved with them, only when the US abandoned them in favour of the Kurds, in a policy change initiated by Obama and followed by Trump.

    *And that was actually clever tactic. When Barzani tried to reinforce his regime, by unilaterally declaring independence and de jure annexing Kirkuk, the Kurdish militias were crushed by the Iraqi Army, which then proceeded to recover Kirkuk and destabilised the Barzani clan's grab on power. Despite their victories against ISIL, the Kurds remain feeble and should therefore expect no favours from their much stronger neighbors and international protectors. That conclusion might sound harsh and cynical, but that's how geopolitics work and Biden is never going to change its fundamental principles.
    Last edited by Abdülmecid I; December 04, 2020 at 05:47 AM.

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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Yeah, let's not forget that FSA, which is the collection of groups that Turkey have been backing in Syria and the ones that are labeled as "jihadist proxies", was backed by the Pentagon under Obama, while CIA backed PKK in Syria, under Obama as well. The bandwagon for Kurdish power grab in Syria is largely over. I doubt Biden would play on that dead horse. It's one thing to cater to people's biases and an other thing to actually run the show.
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Leaving aside the exercise of speculation,however well-grounded, Biden says he will rejoin the Paris agreement,offer to rejoin the nuclear deal with Iran, reaffirm the U.S. military commitment to NATO without ambiguities, rejoin the WHO and work with other countries to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
    It’s a return to a multilateralistic agenda. Regarding the US foreign policy in the middle east, Biden has pledged to to(sic) "end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen", and according to Bliken,Biden's top foreign policy advisor(sic)" undertake a strategic review of our bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia to make sure that it is truly advancing our interests and is consistent with our values"
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by PointOfViewGun View Post
    Yeah, let's not forget that FSA, which is the collection of groups that Turkey have been backing in Syria and the ones that are labeled as "jihadist proxies", was backed by the Pentagon under Obama, while CIA backed PKK in Syria, under Obama as well. The bandwagon for Kurdish power grab in Syria is largely over. I doubt Biden would play on that dead horse. It's one thing to cater to people's biases and an other thing to actually run the show.
    The Pentagon stopped most of their support of the rebels and the Pentagon didn't support the same groups as Turkey did. The jihadist and Islamist groups like Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh Al-Ahrar, and Jaysh al-Islam were never supported by the US but they are fully supported by Turkey, being apart of the Turkish backed Syrian National Army.

    Sorry to say this, but the US support of the Kurds isn't ending. The incoming Biden administration is going to sanction Turkey over its S-400s and continue supporting the Kurds. Not only that, but the US doesn't support current Turkish actions in the Mediterranean against its fellow allies nor the Turkish boycott of French goods and just turkey generally being a dick to Germany, France, Israel, Egypt, ect.

    People still think its a choice between the Kurds vs Turkey. This isn't 2016 anymore. Its more like France, Germany, Israel, UAE, Greece, Egypt, and Cyprus vs Turkey.

    The US should not abandon its allies or interests for the sake of Turkey, who doesn't even share the same interests anymore.
    Last edited by Vanoi; December 04, 2020 at 10:39 AM.

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    Ludicus's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    the result of the US declining from a unipolar superpower and world leader to a great power with peer competitor(s)..
    That's the point. Modelsky's theory of long cycles comes to my mind. Long Cycles: A Bridge between Past and Futures
    R
    ead the three scenarios put forward by this paper.US is the dominant power, China is its main challenger power. Regarding the relationship between US and China, we have a bifurcated future. For a transition of power without war, the EU aims at a 21th century's Great Entente,and its not a China-Russia entente.US will have to support the US-China cooperation.
    Il y a quelque chose de pire que d'avoir une âme perverse. C’est d'avoir une âme habituée
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    Every human society must justify its inequalities: reasons must be found because, without them, the whole political and social edifice is in danger of collapsing”.
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  15. #15
    Legio_Italica's Avatar Lost in Limbo
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ludicus View Post
    That's the point. Modelsky's theory of long cycles comes to my mind. Long Cycles: A Bridge between Past and Futures
    R
    ead the three scenarios put forward by this paper.US is the dominant power, China is its main challenger power. Regarding the relationship between US and China, we have a bifurcated future. For a transition of power without war, the EU aims at a 21th century's Great Entente,and its not a China-Russia entente.US will have to support the US-China cooperation.
    Cooperation is certainly the path of least resistance. It would represent the final surrender of US leadership in the world, with disastrous consequences for the liberal world order. Beijing is a murderous totalitarian regime which routinely liquidates any perceived threat (troublesome people and populations) to the rule of the communist party, not to mention its open commitment to territorial expansion and opportunistic bilateral support for other authoritarian regimes. It’s a “what if” on a comparable scale to “cooperation” with Nazi Germany or the USSR, and a different course that would have accommodated those regimes’ respective ambitions to subdue all of Europe and dominate the world.

    European interests obviously benefit in the short term from an entente more than confrontation, but it would be a mistake to presume a shared interest in the democratic norms underpinning multilateralism on the part of Beijing that would be necessary for a permanent Yalta-like solution for global geopolitics. What the Politburo seeks is ultimately not cooperation, but domination and subjugation. The assumption that Beijing would be satisfied by some magic combination of concessions that doesn’t include its territorial and military ambitions, nor preservation and growth of its totalitarian model, is fantasy given the development of just the last 10-15 years. Europe lacks the will and capacity to lead the world, and its geopolitical leverage is primarily economic rather than military in nature. Europe and America must work together to contain China, or face the reality of a fundamentally less open, less prosperous, more authoritarian future. While open warfare should of course be a measure of last resort, confrontation is already happening; a foregone conclusion. Beijing knows that and has been preparing for years. It’s up to the US to acknowledge that fact and act accordingly, or otherwise be overwhelmed by it.

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    dogukan's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    I don't think any other administration would have treated the problem in a different manner. There's no strategic reason for risking the American-Turkish alliance for the sake of the Syrian Kurds. Firstly, the importance of the latter is minimal, compared to that of Turkey. Their primary goal was to contribute to the fall of the Islamic State and simultaneously prevent the Syrian government from taking back eastern Syria. At a significant extent, the Kurds achieved their purpose, capturing the provincial capital of Raqqa, the Tabqa dam and the desert oilfields, which have drastically curtailed the capabilities of the Syrian Republic to economically recover. It wasn't a total victory, because the Syrians were actually able to be the first to liberate the western bank of the Euphrates and to restore contact with Iraq, but overall the operation was sucessful.

    However, that pales in comparison to the strategic and economic benefits of a close cooperation with Turkey, whose strength has been gradually increasing since the 2000s, especially nowadays, when the US face more determined competition from China. Moreover, the Syrian Kurds are much weaker and totally dependent on Washington's goodwill. The inequality of their relationship means that the Americans can easily afford to be less generous to the Kurds, because the latter rely so heavily on them that they will inevitably swallow any "offenses". After all, that's what happened when Trump "betrayed" the Kurds. There was some whinning, but overall they accepted the affront*. Regarding the comment on Turkey's jihadist proxies, a large number of these organisations and their membership used to be on the payroll of the US under the Democrat presidency of Obama. In fact, Turkey became more heavily involved with them, only when the US abandoned them in favour of the Kurds, in a policy change initiated by Obama and followed by Trump.

    *And that was actually clever tactic. When Barzani tried to reinforce his regime, by unilaterally declaring independence and de jure annexing Kirkuk, the Kurdish militias were crushed by the Iraqi Army, which then proceeded to recover Kirkuk and destabilised the Barzani clan's grab on power. Despite their victories against ISIL, the Kurds remain feeble and should therefore expect no favours from their much stronger neighbors and international protectors. That conclusion might sound harsh and cynical, but that's how geopolitics work and Biden is never going to change its fundamental principles.

    Yes the Obama administration did use jihadis to destabilize dictatorships and yes the Obama administration along with all the American administrations did want to appease Turkey in order to keep it as an ally. But to a shifts towards a new geopolitical arrangement in the region where the traditional roles of the allies-enemies were dismentled also happened during his administration. It takes guts to change the 50 year old security arrangement in the region.

    There is good reason to believe that Obama had more plans in sight for the Erdoğan-led transformation of Turkey as opposed to the Trump era. Obama was clearly being annoyed with the way Turkey was headed and saw a need to do something about the Kurdish issue.
    It was his decision to involve with Kurds, it was his administration that took a major step in risking the alliance with Turkey to engage with non-Barzani Kurds. In fact, it was during his rule the Gülenist coup was launched against Erdoğan regime (we do not know how much the USA was involved but probably to a good extend).

    So unlike Trump, Obama and the American establishment certainly had concerns about the Erdoğan regime and Kurdish issue. Note that it was also during the Obama administration that Turkey launched massive democratic reforms in early 2010s including the peace process with the PKK. I doubt Turkey went ahead with these engagements solely out of its own initiative.
    The general atmosphere Obama created was when Turkey's democracy peaked along with its GDP per Capita.

    The Americans do say that their engagement with the YPG was to only eliminate the ISIS threats but from the beginning I am sure many knew that it would go further than that. By now the engagement got far deeper solely thanks to Obama appointed state department bureucrats like B.Mcgurk that this cooperation went further. And even Trump's impulsive behaviour could not break that relationship.

    I think many in the American political structure, especially those engaged with Middle East realize that without resolving the Kurdish issue, jihadist and nationalist terrorism will breed here, easily destabilizing Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq...4 serious countries. The Kurdish issue creates conflict, insecurity, a lack of trust in these socities while legitimizizng the militarization in the region. It also becomes a tool for populist politicians to boost authoritarian rule. Kurdish issue had been a major obstacle in not only Turkey's transformation to democracy institutionally but also mentally due to the public discourse that revolves around it (as well as the expansion of anti-western sentiment).

    It is also clear to many, and I bet to Americans as well that no matter how much you appease Turkey, the country has too many faultlines to turn away from Western "values" or the pro-West system simply based on these Islamist and nationalist reflexes. No amount of appeasement from West will end the misery and aggresive mentality that is born out of the Kurdish conflict and it will always aid anti-Westernism.
    Most who oppose the Kurdish rights are also those who support conflict with the West. They feed from the same source, regardless of what the West does.

    No amount of "geopolitical reality" surpasses the fact that 35 million unrepresented people that gets a pretty bad treatment in the Middle East exists and are becoming more and more nationalist each passing generation. It does not matter how weak they are simply due to how commited they would be to the Western allies. 35 million pro-Western people is a major geopolitical asset. The Kurdish politics, from their conservatives to leftists is quite pro-US and EU. Turkish politics on the other hand is a lot more divided with a ton more baggage and represents a far bigger gamble for the coming decades as to where the Turkish nation will position itself. There is a struggle over the identity of Turkish politics on where Turkey should position itself. This is not a major issue in the Kurdish discourse.

    35 million pro-Western badly treated Kurds + 4 destabilized countries + a Turkey that is headed towards anti-Westernism feeding from the Kurdish conflict is more representative of the geopolitical reality than what these countries represent on paper.
    Saving the Kurds is a 2 birds with 1 stone to USA. It gets extremely loyal pro-Western allies that number in tens of millions in the region, from a GRASSROOTS perspective while defusing one of the main source of anti-Westernism in Turkey (although in the short run it will create deeper wounds, it would heal from a long term perspective which is more important in geopolitics).
    Last edited by dogukan; December 04, 2020 at 12:44 PM.
    "Therefore I am not in favour of raising any dogmatic banner. On the contrary, we must try to help the dogmatists to clarify their propositions for themselves. Thus, communism, in particular, is a dogmatic abstraction; in which connection, however, I am not thinking of some imaginary and possible communism, but actually existing communism as taught by Cabet, Dézamy, Weitling, etc. This communism is itself only a special expression of the humanistic principle, an expression which is still infected by its antithesis – the private system. Hence the abolition of private property and communism are by no means identical, and it is not accidental but inevitable that communism has seen other socialist doctrines – such as those of Fourier, Proudhon, etc. – arising to confront it because it is itself only a special, one-sided realisation of the socialist principle."
    Marx to A.Ruge

  17. #17
    Cope's Avatar 777777777777777
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vanoi View Post
    The Pentagon stopped most of their support of the rebels and the Pentagon didn't support the same groups as Turkey did. The jihadist and Islamist groups like Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh Al-Ahrar, and Jaysh al-Islam were never supported by the US but they are fully supported by Turkey, being apart of the Turkish backed Syrian National Army.

    Sorry to say this, but the US support of the Kurds isn't ending. The incoming Biden administration is going to sanction Turkey over its S-400s and continue supporting the Kurds. Not only that, but the US doesn't support current Turkish actions in the Mediterranean against its fellow allies nor the Turkish boycott of French goods and just turkey generally being a dick to Germany, France, Israel, Egypt, ect.

    People still think its a choice between the Kurds vs Turkey. This isn't 2016 anymore. Its more like France, Germany, Israel, UAE, Greece, Egypt, and Cyprus vs Turkey.

    The US should not abandon its allies or interests for the sake of Turkey, who doesn't even share the same interests anymore.
    Do you have a resource which details all the groups which were supported in Syria by the US through the Timber Sycamore and Train and Equip programs?
    Last edited by Cope; December 04, 2020 at 12:41 PM.

  18. #18
    Vanoi's Avatar Dux Limitis
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    Do you have a resource which details all the groups which were supported in Syria by the US through the Timber Sycamore and Train and Equip programs?
    Just Wikipedia. Its the only source that even details the individual rebel groups. Turkey and the US both supported FSA factions during the war, but the jihadist and Islamist groups i named earlier weren't by the US.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_National_Army

    That includes a good list of rebel groups though not all of them.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellig...rian_Civil_War

    This has a better list of rebel groups and general belligerents in the war and detail's the US's foreign involvement as well.

  19. #19
    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    Quote Originally Posted by dogukan View Post
    35 million pro-Western badly treated Kurds + 4 destabilized countries + a Turkey that is headed towards anti-Westernism feeding from the Kurdish conflict is more representative of the geopolitical reality than what these countries represent on paper.
    Saving the Kurds is a 2 birds with 1 stone to USA. It gets extremely loyal pro-Western allies that number in tens of millions in the region, from a GRASSROOTS perspective while defusing one of the main source of anti-Westernism in Turkey (although in the short run it will create deeper wounds, it would heal from a long term perspective which is more important in geopolitics).
    I think your analysis is overly simplistic. Of all those millions of Kurds, the majority can vote, does not feel disenfranchised and is also hostile to any prospect of independence. Given the lack of infrastructure, the local interests and the cultural differences, the prospect of a unified Kurdish nation-state is completely unfeasible in the foreseeable future, even if the US create it by force. Even if it was created by force, it could never survive, because of the conflict of interests between the different groups of influence, the insurmountable linguistic and cultural barriers, the lack of roads, railroads and etc. linking the different parts together and its economic unviability.

    In the hypothetical scenario that the US imposed it violently, the subsequent chaos would further destabilise the region, while it would also pretty much guarantee the eternal hostility of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. Washington is probably not worried too much about the first two, but there's hardly a point in angering the others for the sake of an artificial state doomed to disintegrate and never capable of repaying the debt. Also, the current antagonism between Turkey and the US is not solely the result of the Kurdish dispute. Turkey is not even that interested in YPG, ever since it pushed YPG back from the border. It's more the consequence of Turkey's rising strength, which allows it to follow a more independent policy than in the past, where a poorer Turkey was much more dependent, thanks also to the Soviet threat. In the end, although both sides love to play tough, I suspect they will just settle to a compromise, because collaboration is currently more mutually beneficial than any alternative.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    Do you have a resource which details all the groups which were supported in Syria by the US through the Timber Sycamore and Train and Equip programs?
    It's not an exhaustive list, but that would be impossible, given how many of these groups are just local militias that are merged or disbanded on the whim of a random warlord.

  20. #20
    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar 大信皇帝
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    Default Re: A Biden Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned or Business as Usual?

    It will be like the Obama policy but take a harder stance with regards to China and Iran. But use Trump as the excuse for why, even when a beneficial deal will get hammered out. There will also be more pressure on Russia but that one is just an assumption. USA recedes more in Europe, while having to keep or increase their presence through some form in Asia.

    Ultimately if America withdraws from every corner within decades, and this is not the least bit likely, then there would just be regional hegemonies like Russia, India, China, Iran, EU. Many of which will compete with each other but will probably not go into a large scale hot war for the same reasons that we haven't in decades. There would probably be no formal military alliances either, except those aimed against a specific target.

    But ultimately Iran does not have the ability to compete long term. The EU will continue to look for resources from somewhere abroad. India will still not be a Super Power. China will keep using money as its main ammunition. Russia will decline at a similar pace to the USA, just that they are about 20 years behind. The USA will likely still exist and make treaties and carry out interventions in support of this or that group. But a lot of their focus will have to be to secure their trade with Europe and to secure their own backyard in Latin America to prevent foreign incursions and influences.

    "Famous general without peer in any age, most superior in valor and inspired by the Way of Heaven; since the provinces are now subject to your will it is certain that you will increasingly mount in victory." - Ōgimachi-tennō

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