Challenges for the new US administration
The China challenges the Joe Biden administration could face
What awaits the Biden administration in domestic and foreign policy in 2021
On the eve of the inauguration of the new US President Joe Biden, which will take place on Wednesday, January 20, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington organized a round table on the home and foreign policy of the new administration. The new US president will face extraordinary challenges, not only in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and economic problems, but also with the extreme political polarization of American society. At the same time, Washington’s foreign policy challenges have not diminished, although Trump’s legacy gives Biden a number of leverage, experts say..
Domestic problems are the most serious challenge for President Biden, emphasized during the roundtable Aaron David Miller (Aaron David Miller), Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington: «There is not a single foreign policy problem or combination of problems that, in my opinion, would pose a greater danger to society than those that we face domestically. And I can count at least four: the biggest public health threat since the Great [Spanish] Flu of 1918, an economy that has suffered from real structural uncertainty, deepening divisions over race and political belief, and a level of political dysfunction that goes far beyond beyond policy disputes».
The division in American society today is huge, millions of Americans perceive facts and reality in completely different ways, including a large number of people who refuse to accept the outcome of the presidential election. In such a situation, the possibility of effective government of the country is under serious question, emphasizes the expert of the Carnegie Endowment.
Norman Ornstein (Norman Ornstein), Emeritus Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Editor of The Atlantic, notes that Joe Biden’s current inauguration is radically different from all previous ones, highlighting the problems in American society.
«The fact that 25,000 arriving National Guard and other soldiers must pass FBI security checks because after the January 6 Capitol mutiny, we are worried about the possibility of «enemy from within», suggests that we are in a completely different position».
The political chasm between Democrats and Republicans remains an acute problem for the Biden administration, says the expert: «Two-thirds of House Republicans and a quarter of Senate Republicans still [in the wake of the rioting in Congress] voted that Joe Biden’s election was a sham. How they can then work with Biden and run the country is a real challenge.».
With a slight edge in the House of Representatives and only one decisive vote towards Democrats in Vice President Kamala Harris due to an equal division of seats in the Senate, the Biden administration faces serious constraints on how much it can carry out its agenda. Therefore, Biden can resort to management by executive orders of the president or the process «reconciliation», when it is used to pass laws, it is necessary not 2/3, but a simple majority of votes in the Senate, Ornstein notes.
However, this could turn the GOP against the Democrats and further exacerbate the differences between the parties instead of bringing them closer, he said. Dan Balz (Dan Balz), chief correspondent for The Washington Post. At the same time, Joe Biden has repeatedly said that reconciliation between Republicans and Democrats and the unification of the country is one of the priorities of his administration, he adds..
The desire for bipartisan cooperation was a trait of Biden, and when he was Senator and Vice President of Barack Obama, the journalist also says: «This is how he thinks about things and how he approaches things. And I believe that there is certainly a sincere desire on his part to try and do it.».
The Biden administration’s priority will be to tackle the pandemic and rebuild the economy, Dan Balz adds, and how it handles it will be central to assessing its success. Another challenge for the new administration will be to restore faith in democracy among all Americans, he adds..
Senior Fellow, Foreign and Defense Policy Research, American Enterprise Institute Daniel Lash (Danielle Pletka) believes the threats to American democracy are exaggerated.
«If you look at our selections, you will see that the system works», – She notes, stressing that despite President Trump’s allegations of electoral fraud, only one technical violation out of the mass of lawsuits filed by his lawyers was satisfied by the courts, at the state level both Democrats and Republicans confirmed the transparency of the elections, and Vice President Mike Pence did not become unilaterally obstruct the approval of the results of the US elections.
In terms of foreign policy, the challenges for Biden’s team remain much the same as those in the Trump administration: China, NATO, Turkey, the Middle East and Russia. At the same time, according to an expert at the American Enterprise Institute, the Trump administration leaves Biden a lot of leverage..
«One of these levers – no longer just be Donald Trump», – says Daniel Lash. At the same time, the expert adds that the previous policy of President Trump can help the new administration to achieve more favorable conditions for the United States from partners or rivals..
«We have absolutely crushing sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the right course for Biden [..] would be to say: “I want to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – Iranian deal – but can’t do it until you do a few things”», – she gives an example.
With regard to Russia, the expert notes that Joe Biden will have leverage on Moscow, but no US president can change the actions of the current Russian authorities, since they are dictated by internal calculations.
«Despite President Trump’s weakness for Putin and other […] dictators, the truth is that over the past four years, the United States has imposed a series of rather harsh sanctions against Russia, against Putin’s friends, against Russian banks and a number of Russian businesses, including number in the military sphere. In theory, Biden will have leverage in the form of a proposal to remove some of the sanctions in exchange for better behavior. The problem is that Putin’s behavior is not determined by the United States. This is due to his own inner needs. This is due to the fact that he externalizes an external threat in order to hide the manifestation of problems within the country. And no Joe Biden can change that».
Daniel Pletka expresses hope that the Biden administration will be able to persuade Europe to take a tougher stance against the Kremlin, including to permanently halt construction «Nord Stream 2» and impose tougher sanctions so that the Russian president «drew attention to this».
With regard to the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny by the Russian authorities, Daniel Pletka emphasizes, the new US administration must take a clear tough stance in support of him.