American Foreign Policy hinges on the next POTUS

Balaji Chandramohan

Balaji Chandramohan

New Delhi, October 24, 2020

                                        US President Donald Trump and Candidate Jo Biden

As America go to the polls to elect their 59th President on November 3, 2020, expectations are that there will be  a change of guard at the White House in Washington with the Democrat candidate, former Vice-President Joe Biden winning with a comfortable majority.

If he does win and take the Office of the President, it would be at a time when the US is a declining global power, confronted by rising and resurgent countries, and the absence of consensus on how nation-states should behave in such transitional times.

It no longer has the will or the ability to be the world’s Policeman and the US-led global economic model operative for half a century has seen its frailties exposed by Covid-19.

The US must adjust accordingly.

International demands

Internally, Biden must agree to a significant number of the foreign policy demands of the left-wing of his Party not only in order to win the election but in order to achieve stability within government after it. He will try to do so incrementally rather than radically but the bottom line is that he has to do so given the changing times in which we live.

There are hard core aspects which Biden and his team must address.

There is then the military aspect of the US foreign policy.

George W Bush (President from 2001 to 2009) made his country the military as a blunt instrument of his foreign policy to the detriment of diplomacy. The traditional dictum that the military should be used only when diplomacy fails has long been discarded, and the administration of Donald Trump does not understand that “military diplomacy” is not always about the deployment, threat and use of force. The relationship between diplomacy and military force is not a zero-sum game.

The approach therefore has to change.

Hillary Clinton: Four Ds

Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has written about the need to reconsider the “Four D’s” of foreign policy: Defence, Diplomacy, Development and the Domestic Sources of US international relations. Like Biden and former President Barack Obama, she remains wedded to the liberal internationalist school of thought, which considers market economies and democratic politics as the best economic-political combination for national and international politics.

In that context, if the Democrats come to power, then the US will return to the context of multilateralism by strengthening the scope of the United Nations with India and New Zealand becoming large beneficiaries.

India will push for the expansion of the Security Council and canvass for its Permanent Membership, with or without veto.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will further the cause of Climate Change and Nuclear Non-Proliferation through the UN.

Stronger line on China

The US will take a stronger line on Chinese influence in the Pacific, which will include reassertion of US naval dominance in the South Pacific waterways and sea lanes of communication used by the Chinese for trade and the prioritisation of US defence ties to the countries surrounding China.

This ramping up of regional security ties will be aided by the recent US-Australia and US-New Zealand security agreements, bolstering the US military relationship with both countries.

As a part of its enhanced commitment to bilateral defence ties in the Western Pacific, the US will continue to work to cement its chain of security partners throughout the region,.

If Biden comes to power, it is expected that progressive politics will come to light again in the democratic countries giving scope for the left-centre parties to stake claim for power with popular mandate just like the one in New Zealand where the Labour Party was able to win elections.

Balaji Chandramohan is Indian Newslink Correspondent based in New Delhi.

The above Report has been sponsored by

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