27 August 2020

Candidate Joseph Biden – foreign policy options

Sergiu Medar

In November this year, the US will hold the presidential elections. The US foreign policy in interested fields is extremely important for Romania. Joseph Biden, the democratic candidate, will most likely seek, in terms of foreign policy, to take over the international coordinates of the US active participation to events that might have global effects. An administration change would bring also a paradigm change in the international relations. The “America First” perspective might be replaced by the “America Must Lead Again” one, which involves a less isolationist attitude and a US involvement in the world’s challenges in order to become a world leader again.

Image source: Profimedia

The national conventions of the two big parties, where there were designated the US presidential elections candidates, came with no surprises. Everyone already knew that the Republican Party chose Donald Trump and the Democratic Party chose Joseph (Jo) Biden as candidates from the two parties, for the US president position.

Currently, they have quite similar chances, however depending on “where and when” the polls were made. When the two Conventions ended, the distance between the two candidates, in terms of votes, was pretty small, with a 2-6% advantage for Biden.

As for Trump, the future policy will actually be a continuation of the current internal policy and a continuation of the “America First” principle implementation in the foreign one.

All Biden’s electoral speeches have been directed towards a firm critic on Trump, his principles and results.

Jo Biden is launching the “America Must Lead Again” principle, which involves less aggressiveness than the “America First” principle that Trump won the elections with, four years ago. The policies Biden is applying on America’s soil, if he wins the mandate, must be fully connected to the foreign policy. According to Biden, the same democratic principles applied at home must be applied as well in the partner countries and, especially, the future partners.

The “America First” principles assumed that in any international issue, the uppermost interest belongs to the US, regardless if this approach may lead to lack of solidarity or isolationism accusations.

The “America Must Lead Again” principle assumes the US’s involvement, as a leader, in the main challenges to possibly have global effects. Besides the moral and material advantages of such an intervention, the US has also the responsibility of the final result. This is about to get America to a new form of performance.

The future Biden Administration will win again the international prestige, according to the political project presented in the electoral campaign, by offering an example in terms of the way it will face the world’s challenges and of how it will stand by the states which, by themselves, cannot handle such difficulties. The series of challenges Biden wants the US to respond as a leader is quite large, from climatic changes to nuclear proliferation, from the big powers competition to international terrorism or form the cyber offensive to mass migration. Biden has stated: “The United States is prepared to lead again—not just with the example of our power but also with the power of our example”.

 Biden wants to unify the world democracies, to provide the synergy of all efforts to create a new global order, wherein liberal democracies to have the leading role. Starting from this objective, the democratic candidate already committed o organize and host the Summit of Democracies, which was supposed to take place in the first year of its presidential mandate.

For the entire world, it is extremely important what is Biden’s position on the main foreign policy aspects, where Trump’s decisions were firmly contested.

Nuclear security

If elected president, Biden will carefully check and track the security of nuclear weapons deposits. Where suspicions arise about the armament’s stability, he will test it. Unfortunately, the technology wherewith these weapons are made is now known by many countries, therefore the nuclear proliferation or nuclear terrorism danger is now a real threat.

North Korea’s nuclear programs

In his speech presented in front of the electorate, Jo Biden criticized the ineffectiveness of Trump’s government, which could not stop Kim Jong-un from testing nuclear weapons. The democratic candidate thinks that it is totally wrong to use nuclear tests in a coercive manner. The solution would be to impose severe sanctions on North Korea. The relation with Russia and North Korea’s leaders must only make do with a pragmatic diplomacy: “Are we a nation that embraces dictators and tyrants like ) Putin and Kim Jong Un?”.

Iran and its nuclear program

Biden thinks that the US withdrawal from the nuclear treaty with Iran led to an increasing war risk in the Middle East. If, according to the treaty, Iran has said yes to have its ability to produce nuclear weapons controlled, by cancelling the agreement, it was able to continue to develop its nuclear program, thus threatening the states in the region. The democratic candidate commits to start over again the negotiations to restart the nuclear agreements, for it to continue to bring back its effects. Therefore, diplomacy will retake its pacifier actions, and the US will generate credibility in the region…

The new Cold War and the big powers competition

Biden does not agree with Trump’s policy to move the US foreign policy attention from the Middle East to big powers such as China and Russia. Currently, the nature of the threats is global and “refer to other priorities, which include climatic changes, nuclear proliferation, the assurance that the global economy is working for the US middle class, the development of capacities to face the challenges imposed by the new technologies, like artificial intelligence”.

As for the arms control, a democratic administration would negotiate and sign the START agreement, just like any treaty that would lead to reducing the arms raced of any kind.

The relation with NATO

If he wins the elections, Biden will recreate the historical partnership which is the foundation of the transatlantic relation and retake, to a high level, the partnership with the states that are NATO member states. It is necessary to also go through a reform of this relation in order to cope with the challenges of today’s world. “In order to cope with the Russian aggression, we must keep Alliance’s capabilities and extend them so that to face the non-traditional threats, such as: transforming corruption in a weapons, disinformation and the cyber robbery”. If Russia violates the international rules, it will be sanctioned politically and economically. Biden thinks that the US must join and support the Russian civil society, which will oppose the authoritarian, kleptocratic system led by Putin.

Thus, “NATO must continue to dislocate military troops and capabilities to Eastern Europe, to deter and, if needed, counter Russia’s attack over a member state of the Alliance”.

The relation with Russia

Biden states, in a speech held at the Congress hearings about the rescission proposal of Trump, that “Putin does not want me to be the US president”. In fact, the reaction of the Russian leader is justified by the fact that Biden publicly said that Putin is “a killer”.

At the same time, however, the democratic candidate thinks that it is necessary to keep an open communication methods between Washington and Moscow. As they are two big nuclear powers with military forces dislocated one close to another, in many essential places in the world, the US and Russia have the mutual obligation to keep a strategic stability and to abstain from challenging each other.

Underlining Moscow’s involvement in Eastern Europe’s states, Biden gave as example the 2004 rescission of a Lithuanian president, accused and proved to have taken money for the electoral campaign from a Russian oligarch who, eventually, got Lithuanian citizenship. In the same context of the corruption actions Kremlin used to reach its political objectives, in Montenegro, a politician was convicted for money laundering favoring a Russian party.

To push away any attention on the corruption in Russia and the international Russian one, Russia started a strong attack on the foundation of liberal democracy.


China recently states that if Biden gets elected the US will be controlled by China. The public statement of the Republican candidate reveals that the current president thinks that he might lose the elections.

On the other hand, Biden accuses the Republican candidate that, since taking over the position Trump has, Beijing’s position became stronger and Washington’s weaker.


Given that Biden and his son were publicly attacked and accused of unconfirmed corruption actions, when it comes to his relation with Ukraine, this topic is in US’s media’s attention. In fact, Trump publicly stated that he will reveal, soon, blamable action Biden did in relation with the Ukrainian government.

The democratic candidate is accusing, through his speeches, the Russian invasion in Eastern Ukraine and he thinks that by continuing and intensifying the sanctions on Russia, it will have to follow its promises made in the Minks negotiations to withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s territory.

The US president change is always an event that has political effects in the entire world. It leads to a lightly political vulnerability, manifested through the lack of decision of some world leaders.

Translated by Andreea Soare