US President Joe Biden will be making his first visit to the State Department later in the day to announce the main "lanes" of his foreign policy approach. This will not be the Democrat's comprehensive plan for navigating the US in the waters of global politics, but a brief overview of his first steps in what he has repeatedly described as a step back from the approach of his predecessor Donald Trump.
His National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan gave a few hints as to what to expect from today's announcements.
- According to Sullivan, Biden's core idea for the first changes to US foreign policy will be to "establish a position of strength" for the country from which it will act in the future.
- These future actions will include dealing with "great power competition" and "transnational threats" to US citizens
- Biden will be announcing the White House's intent to counter any "malign" actions of foreign powers, including those committed during Trump's tenure. However, Sullivan clarified that Washington will only respond to actions threatening US interests and citizens.
- Sullivan hinted that Biden will also announce another new principle, which he called "foreign policy for the middle class" – meaning that Washington will weigh in on the consequences of every foreign policy action for US workers.
Five Lanes to Establish Position of Strength
- Sullivan mentioned five "lanes" that Biden will announce during his visit to the Department of State that will help the US establish the aforementioned "position of strength".
- Biden is expected to announce moves to strengthen the US economy, revitalise its alliances with foreign powers in Europe and Asia, and re-engage in "key institutions and agreements" that the previous administration had abandoned.
- The US already re-joined the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, yet a number of accords remain abandoned – such as the Iran nuclear deal, which Sullivan said the US is discussing with European countries, and two treaties with Russia – the Open Skies Treaty and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It is possible that Biden will hint on their fate in his speech today.
- Biden will also announce the review of the US global force posture by the Pentagon, which might reverse some of the troop withdrawals initiated by Trump
- According to Sullivan, the president will also announce a course to reassert US values in terms of foreign policy. It is not entirely clear what that would entail, except for ceasing support for the offensive operation in Yemen and the launch of a peace initiative to end the civil conflict in the country, which Sullivan announced.
- Sullivan also hinted at a number of other foreign policy lanes that Biden might announce during his visit to the Department of State, such as sanctions over the recent military coup in Myanmar and the policy of protecting LGBTQ+ rights not only in the US, but also abroad up to the point of taking action against violations.
'New' Good Old Foreign Policy?
- Despite stressing Biden's approach as being a stark difference from that of Donald Trump, many of the foreign policy first steps teased by Sullivan are actually a continuation in some way of the approach used by the former president.
- Namely, Washington under the new administration is still planning on "competing" with certain foreign powers across the board, specifically with China. The competition will lie in the economic, diplomatic and national security spheres.
- Sullivan further revealed that one of Biden's priorities will be fighting "trade abuses" by China that hurt American workers – a notion all too reminiscent of Trump's "America First" principle and trade war it launched against Beijing.
- Biden won't abandon the policy of holding Russia "accountable" for its alleged misdeeds, such as purported meddling in US democratic procedures or alleged cyberattacks, according to the national security adviser. Biden also might announce new sanctions against Russia related to the so-called "poisoning" of opposition activist Alexey Navalny and his imprisonment over numerous parole violations.
- At the same time, Sullivan stressed that Washington is still ready to work with the Kremlin on issues that are critical for US national security, recalling the recent extension to the New START treaty as an example.