Return to the origins: Biden’s first foreign policy moves

After four years of erratic foreign policy, skating between open confrontation with a few countries, indulgence with many others, disdain for old allies, and total indifference to the majority, the United States is once again what it was: an economic and military power that takes care of its interests above all, but within a range of attitudes and references known and, for the most part, civilized and democratic. In his still short term in office, President Joe Biden has already given ample evidence of this turnaround and has accentuated the change of course in recent days in movements aimed precisely at Donald Trump’s “bosom friends”. (US erratic foreign policy)


Vladimir Putin, from Russia, for whom Trump had open admiration, Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi prince who was forgiven for all sins in the name of good business, and leftist Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador, from Mexico, with whom the former president signed the premise of “I don’t step on your toes and you don’t step on mine”, they learned, with a few days difference, of what to expect from the White House: less complacency and more demand.

Putting an end to the apathy of the Trump era in the face of the scandalous attempt to poison Russian oppositionist Alexei Navalny by Putin’s secret service last year, the White House condemned the action, placed it on the FSB (new name of the former KGB) account and announced the blocking of the issuance of an American visa and financial transactions by seven Kremlin employees. They are all of lower rank, but it was better than nothing – and, by the way, Biden sided with the European governments, with whom he needs to mend ties torn by Trump.

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On another front, hours after the release of a report based on CIA information that definitively incriminates Bin Salman, the Saudi mandachuva, in the murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, Biden spoke on the phone not to him, but to his father, the sick King Salman, and hit several keys: on the one hand, he reiterated the importance of human rights; on the other hand, he pleased the preferred client in the United States arms industry and an essential ally in the volatile Middle East. “The intention is to recalibrate our ties with Saudi Arabia,” he declared.

Biden began to dismantle the line of external hurts signed by Trump in the first days of his government, by relocating the United States in the negotiations for the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization. In a calculated move, he was willing to resume talks about a nuclear deal with Iran – now the most explosive terrain in the Middle East – and shortly thereafter ordered the bombing of pro-Iranian militias into Syrian territory, in retaliation for an earlier attack in which Americans died.

“The new administration must choose to interfere in the Iranian issue through pressure on international organizations and through multilateralism,” says former Brazilian ambassador to Washington Rubens Barbosa. That is: as it was before. “The American population does not want any more wars, and Biden knows that,” adds Barbosa.

With López Obrador, the call was cautious. The leftist president, to general surprise, tied a cooperation pact with Trump and was the penultimate ruler, behind Jair Bolsonaro, to congratulate Biden for the victory. López Obrador heard from his American colleague that the United States will not interfere in the neighbor’s internal affairs and they count on a mutual collaboration to solve border problems and improve the conditions of immigrants.

“We have not been good neighbors, but now we see Mexico as an equal,” he declared, somewhat hyperbolically, but diplomacy is just like that. “Part of what Trump did will not be undone easily. But it is a good sign to see his successor willing to strengthen international cooperation, instead of seeing enemies in diplomats and foreigners, ”says Max Paul Friedman, professor of international relations at American University. After the Trump tractor, the new old American foreign policy is a breath of good air.


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