Has U.S. Foreign Policy Really Changed under Biden?

Many people hoped that Joe Biden’s presidency would look very different than Trump’s, certainly in the arena of war and international policy. But Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner recently said that Biden had “called Iran’s bluff” and done “the right thing” by refusing to make concessions to Iran on a possible new nuclear deal. That Kushner would say anything nice about Biden at the very beginning of his administration should tell us something about Biden and the system that both he and Trump represent.

But it wasn’t just talk. Barely a month in office, the new administration launched airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Syria. The Pentagon said this was in response to attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. But what are U.S. troops still doing on the ground in Iraq, nearly 20 years after the U.S. invasion of that country? They are certainly not protecting U.S. working people.

With Saudi Arabia, the administration said it was stopping support for that country’s war on Yemen. But at almost the same time, Biden refused to punish Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been accused in a U.S. government report of having approved the operation that killed U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This is just one more incident in the pattern of U.S. political leaders – both Democratic and Republican – looking the other way when the oil-rich, brutal Saudi regime commits heinous crimes.

In addition, Biden has said it would be “tough” to meet Trump’s May 1 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. And Biden has indicated there will likely be almost no cuts to Trump’s expanded military budget.

Biden’s Secretary of State Blinken just met with top Chinese officials in Alaska. You might think this would be about reversing Trump’s brinksmanship with China. But the Biden regime has so far not changed Trump’s high tariffs on imports from China and has appeared confrontational on other issues as well, including relations with Taiwan and control of the South China Sea. Blinken has even echoed Trump’s criticism of China on COVID-19, though not in the same blatantly racist language.

Of course, Biden did rejoin the toothless Paris climate accords which enforce nothing on any country, including the U.S. He also reversed some of Trump’s most notorious policies, including the Muslim immigration ban and the decision to quit the World Health Organization. But saying you’re against things that Trump did is a very low bar.

What does all this mean? Well, it’s just the beginning of Biden’s term. But it appears that global policies will continue very much along Trumpian lines – maybe different in style, but not so much in substance – defending the interests of U.S. big business around the world. It is in fact a return to Democrat policies of the Obama era and earlier. And remember that it was Democratic administrations that took the U.S. into war in Korea (Truman) and Vietnam (Kennedy and Johnson), launched the Bay of Pigs invasion against Cuba (Kennedy), bombed civilians in Serbia and Kosovo (Clinton), and more recently escalated the use of drone warfare (Obama), particularly in the Middle East, without solving problems for the 99 Percent here or anywhere. Why should we expect anything different from Biden?