Climate change and the rise of China are such big things that Biden’s reign looks like the blink of an eye, writes HS’s foreign journalist Pekka Mykkänen.
Democrat Joe Biden has been the president of the United States for a hundred days on Thursday. His rise to power marked one of the most chaotic periods in U.S. history and foreign policy.
Republican Donald Trumpin the move away from the center of world politics ventilated the atmosphere, especially from a European perspective. Trump seemed to get along better with his monopolies (Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, North Korea) than with his traditional allies.
But changing the climate does not mean changing the world. North Korea, Russia and China are still dangerous countries. There is still misery in Afghanistan, Yemen and Libya. Anti-democratic forces continue to march, and the planet is still in the grip of a serious climate crisis.
Biden However, right at the beginning of its season, it made game moves that returned the United States at least to a more predictable career as a global player. He returned his country to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Paris Climate Agreement, lifted the travel ban on Muslim countries and stopped funding a border wall against Mexico.
At the level of declarations, Biden’s foreign policy can so far be squeezed into his often-cultivated phrase “America has made a comeback”. In the European Union, for example, and in the military alliance NATO, it is conceivable that there is again a friend and ally behind the Atlantic in terms of values.
Biden has taken a distance from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salmanin, believed to have been ordered by a Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggin to the chopping murder. He has also invited the President of Russia Vladimir Putinia “Killer” and pursued a strict policy of sanctions against Russia.
Biden would seem to share with Europeans the view that it is worth returning to negotiations with Iran. Indeed, in his first major foreign policy speech in February, Biden stated that “diplomacy has made a comeback”.
But since the United States has been in the grip of the corona epidemic in the early days of Biden, practical foreign policy is only beginning to take shape.
It is healthy to remember that for many of Biden’s predecessors, the world has held surprises: the Democrat Bill Clinton was to drift into war with China and North Korea, a Republican George W. Bushin at the beginning of the season, the twin towers of New York collapsed, and the Democrat Barack Obaman during the period the world economy was losing oxygen.
Alongside Obama, Vice President Joe Biden hardly imagined at the time of his rise to power in January 2009 that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would continue eight years later. Who would have expected Peace Nobel Laureate Obama to extend the U.S. secret airplane war many times more severe than Bush, considered a hawk?
Now Biden has made a promise that Afghanistan’s “eternal war will end” by 9/11 next year. This, of course, means a promise to withdraw American troops from the country by the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York. The real end of the war is a whole different matter.
In Afghanistan, the current war started in the late 1970s, and with its effects, every U.S. president has had to live one way or another. Even US presidents who did not want to get involved in the war in Afghanistan got it in their arms elsewhere, as an example Osama bin Laden attacks on US embassies in Africa by the al-Qaeda network led by
“Forever war ”Afghanistan is unfortunately a small thing when you look at two major trends affecting world stability: climate change and China’s rise to superpower. For them, it is wise to maintain moderate expectations when it comes to Biden’s ability to shape the world.
However, the climate summit hosted by Biden last week, as well as the new emissions reduction targets set by the United States, shed light on the belief that global climate policy now has some kind of peace at work for at least three years.
But around the corner lurks the threat of a president like Trump returning to power after Biden. Or the rest of the world slips from the promises made.
Climate change has its roots in the Industrial Revolution, and the next U.S. presidential election in about 1,280 days seems to be quite the point. From the perspective of Chinese conception of history, Biden’s reign looks like the blink of an eye.
China’s with regard to Biden has pursued a more moderate policy than Trump, but so far mainly on the rhetorical side. Americans ’anti-Chinaism transcends party boundaries, and China’s rise as a serious challenger to the United States has put two world powers on a path of permanent confrontation.
Biden’s starting point in Chinese politics is much the same as Trump’s: America first. And this is what we mean specifically for the success of one’s own economy and for remaining the king of the hill.
Even if the EU now has a like-minded ally in the United States, that does not mean that Western democratic values have returned to a winning career. It is reminded, for example, of the conquest of the US Congress House a couple of weeks before Biden took office.
All in the years when the EU has been groping for its own voice in global politics and the United States has been lost because of its war on terror or Trump, China has spread the good news of authoritarian politics all over the planet and reduced the living space of its own citizens, especially minorities. That trend will not be reversed by a single democracy summit like Biden is doing for May.
In the 1990s, Bill Clinton hoped for democracy around the world. In the 21st century, during the George W. Bush era, the desire became more specific to the Middle East. After the years of Trump that have just ended, we were glad that there is still such a system in the United States.
The quarrelsome and crown-ravaged United States alone is a big ship for Biden to turn. The country’s domestic political hustle and bustle has shattered the foreign policy visions of many previous presidents.
Biden’s early foreign policy has provided the ingredients for optimism, but at least the over-optimist should also be prepared for the possibility of disappointment.
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