In his first major foreign policy speech at the Munich Security Conference on Friday, US President Joe Biden emphasized a firm approach to the country’s three main nemeses: the historic, Iran; the cyclical, Russia; and the new one, China.
Declaring that the US transatlantic alliance was back in business, Biden said the US and Europe must “prepare together for long-term strategic competition with China.” He said the Kremlin attacked our democracies, militated against corruption and sought to weaken the NATO alliance. He said Iran’s destabilizing activities across the Middle East needed to be “dealt with”.
Biden defined China as the main competitor and challenge facing the United States in the years to come, in stark contrast to the apparent views of the American public. According to a recent CBS survey, 54% believe that the main threat to their lifestyle is internal, while only 8% cite foreign threats.
Regardless of what the Americans think, is it really wise for the Biden administration to confidently engage these three rival powers at the same time? It implies a tenuous understanding of the reality facing the United States; or, to put it more bluntly, it gives the impression that the Beltway is affected by the herd’s immunity to critical thinking.
At the height of its internal and external weakness, always overburdened on various battlefields, and with two key pillars of its decades-long supremacy – the dollar as a global reserve currency and technological superiority – under threat, the United States United seem determined to face them. powers simultaneously.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who designed the historic United States of 1972 openness to China against the Soviet Union before the American victory in the Cold War, must scratch his head.
The plausible result of such an overconfident and hubristic approach is that China, Russia and Iran will step up cooperation against what they perceive as an American attempt to preserve its world supremacy at all costs. The consequences can be unpleasant for Washington allies in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
Laying these red lines implies a willingness to apply them. Is this the case for the United States in 2021?
But for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, this approach is a godsend.
Russia’s political and security interests Ukraine and Belarus (whether legitimate or not) have been contested by the United States, as have their interests in the Middle East (Syria) and nationally, with respect to the Leader of the Opposition Alexei Navalny and the protests accompanying his detention.
By further isolating Russia, the United States, for now, can probably count on the support of the EU, in the middle deterioration of relationships between Moscow and Brussels. Yet despite Washington’s insistence, Germany does not seem ready to abandon the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Russia. In addition, Brussels’ firm position on Moscow could be reviewed if Armin Laschetsucceeds Angela Merkel to become the new German Chancellor.
Iran nuclear deal
Although Biden has confirmed his laudable intention to re-enter the nuclear deal with Iran, he seems to want to impose the narrative that the deal was violated by Tehran, rather than Washington – and therefore is. to Iran go back to the clauses of the agreements first, before the United States removes the sanctions.
The reality is exactly the opposite. The United States was the first to violate the agreement, with the formal outing decreed by former President Donald Trump in May 2018. Iran only reduced its compliance a year later, as the agreements allow Article 36. Tehran is ready to return to full compliance when Washington does the same, but it has also issued an ultimatum: if the sanctions are not lifted by February 21, it will stop its voluntary implementation of the NPT Additional Protocol and expel them. international inspectors. Time is therefore running out.
Time is running out for US to join Iran nuclear deal
At the same time, Biden sent important signals to Iranian leaders by stop US support for Saudi Arabia’s war effort in Yemen, suspension of arms sales to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, and revision of the terrorism designation against the Yemen Houthis – measures that should not be ignored in Tehran.
It is hoped that the return channels between the two sides are already at work to find a roadmap to break this impasse. But the question remains: between Washington and Tehran, who needs a ladder most to get off the tree?
While the US position on the Iran nuclear deal is logically questionable, European countries are unlikely to move away from it; after all, they didn’t even do it under Trump. But for Tehran, the European position is irrelevant. Russia and China, on the other hand, seem more inclined to subscribe to Iranian logic. It is difficult to say if, and how, such divisions will affect the future effectiveness of the Country group P5 + 1who oversees the transaction.
Stronger stance on China
The pattern followed with China is similar. Issues that Beijing sees as internal – such as Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan and issues related to its national security, such as the South China Sea – are being resolutely addressed by Washington, which risks further damaging another bilateral relationship. and more difficult.
US administration urged to take a firmer stance on Beijing through widely read Atlantic Council report, The Longer Telegram, which seems to imitate George Kennans telegram in 1946 of Moscow, which laid the groundwork for the successful US containment policy towards the Soviet Union.
Unfortunately, it presents questionable and, in some cases, dangerous analyzes and recommendations. These include a list of red lines that should not be crossed by China: any nuclear, chemical or biological weapon action against the United States by North Korea where China has not taken decisive action. to prevent it; any Chinese economic blockade or major cyberattack on Taiwan; and any major hostile action by China in the South China Sea to recapture and militarize the islands, among others.
Laying these red lines implies a will to apply them. Is this the case for the United States in 2021? Red lines generally restrict diplomacy and political options, risk triggering dangerous escalation or lose credibility. The Obama administrations Red line on the use of chemical weapons in Syria in 2013 speaks for itself.
Of its three enemies, the United States may face the greatest difficulties vis-à-vis China, which is far more powerful than Russia or Iran. Moreover, the solidarity of Washington’s European and Asian allies in this case seems much less obvious.
The United States does not seem ready to accept a multipolar world; he perseveres to believe that his place as a world leader is as it was after 1945
Last November, with Biden already elected, China and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries sign the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership, the the largest free trade agreement already. Washington’s historic allies including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea – no matter how concerned they were about Beijing’s allegedly aggressive policies – did not hesitate to join in. ‘agreement. EU members recently signed a agreement with China on investment protection.
The U.S.’s European and Asian allies are certainly concerned about China’s rise to power, but they don’t seem inclined to subscribe to the seemingly assertive path taken by the Biden administration.
So the problem runs much deeper than Trumps’ failed policies, and it also cannot be naively solved by rewinding the film in Obama’s time. American foreign policy needs a cultural overhaul, and it is baffling that – for now anyway – the Biden administration does not seem inclined in that direction.
As observers astutely have it Noted, the United States does not seem ready to accept a multipolar world; he perseveres in believing that his place as world leader is as it was after 1945.
To use a viral slogan, the focal point is not to rebuild better, but to rebuild differently.
The opinions expressed in this article are the property of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
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