After being elected Democratic Party candidate for the presidency of the United States, Joe Biden received a letter signed by more than 50 progressive organizations asking him to take on an agenda of extensive foreign policy reforms, including a return to the nuclear deal with Iran and the reduction of the Pentagon’s budget by at least $ 200 million.
Six months later came Biden’s response, which had already nominated Antony Blinken (secretary of state), Jake Sullivan (national security adviser) and was likely to nominate Michele Flournoy as secretary of defense – signaling that his team national security is more centrist than his party’s left flank would have wanted.
It is certain: Blinken, Sullivan and Flournoy will not give Saudi Arabia the green light it has come to expect from the Trump administration, while the nomination of John Kerry as climate emissary shows that it is a priority issue for Biden as opposed to Trump’s White House he didn’t really care about. Biden then pledged to return to the nuclear deal with Iran insofar as it would again abide by the terms of the pact.
At the same time, all three are part of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. Blinken is an old adviser to Biden, from the time Biden was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In the past year, Blinken has stressed that the Biden administration will focus on rebuilding relations with allies disrupted by Trump. He also said he had a clearer view of the Middle East than progressive party activists. For example, last month he told Jewish Insider that even if Biden suspended economic sanctions related to nuclear activities, “we will continue with nuclear-disconnected sanctions as a barrier against Iran’s behavior in other areas.” Therefore, if Biden keeps his promise, Iran will continue to be under financial pressure as the Trump administration has increased its sanctions for supporting terrorism.
Then in other parts of the world, Biden is not pursuing a progressive agenda. In his May letter, Biden is urged to reject efforts to overthrow opponents’ regimes and oppose comprehensive sanctions on Iran and Venezuela. However, during some debates, last year, at the Hudson Institute, Sullivan did not fully agree with this.
Asked about Trump’s policy towards Venezuela, he replied that a military intervention would be too risky: focusing on a non-military policy would be a more prudent move. “That means reaffirming our sanctions and continuing to build the international coalition around them, with a particular focus on breaking up China, Cuba and Russia from Venezuela,” Sullivan said.
Flournoy also has a central perspective on defense policy. It has publicly opposed significant budget cuts and campaigned for military reconstruction so that new challenges from China and Russia can be met. It was a key argument in his testimony last year before the House Arms Services Committee that he said his main concern was that a miscalculation by Russia or China would lead to a major confrontation with the United States. She proposed that the US “procure and deploy all necessary systems” so as to discourage both countries from any deviations.
By contrast, the May 11 letter from progressives called for more diplomatic involvement in relations with China and Russia: “The overemphasis on US dangers from these countries is exacerbating domestic fear, racism and hatred. “.
However, it is too early to assess what Biden’s foreign policy will look like, writes Eli Lake in his Bloomberg editorial. At the time of Barack Obama’s inauguration, no one could predict the Arab Spring and its tragic aftermath, the war in Syria. Presidents often realize what their foreign policy really is by reacting to what is happening in the world.
Even so, the early signals given by Biden at least momentarily show that he is preparing a centrist line. His election to national security posts may disappoint party progressives, but it is certainly reassuring to America’s allies.