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If Elected, Biden Will Tell World, 'America's Back' and Rejoin Paris Climate Accord

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If Elected, Biden Will Tell World, 'America's Back' and Rejoin Paris Climate Accord

2020-10-22 17:54:59

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Joe Biden (Image source: Screenshot)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is discussing his foreign policy plans, should he be elected on November 3. One of the first things he'd do is "get on the phone with the heads of state and say, 'America's back, you can count on us.' "

Biden has the foreign policy experience to back it up. He is a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and as vice president in the Obama administration for eight years, he again worked on foreign policy.

His first plan of action will be to return as much of the state of the country back to 2016 as he can. Donald Trump was inaugurated and immediately started making changes, overturning much of Obama's legacy.

Biden vowed to immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, the World Health Organization, and the Iran nuclear deal, as long as Tehran also reverses the clock and becomes compliant again.

On Day 1, the former vice president said he would remove the "gag order" prohibiting any health organization that performs or provides advice on abortions from receiving U.S. foreign aid. He will lift his predecessor's "Muslim ban," reverse his "cruel and senseless" immigration policies, increase the admissions for refugees from 15,000 to 125,000, and "restore greater transparency for military operations."

Biden plans to host, during his first year in office, a "Summit for Democracy" with other nations of similar ideology to reaffirm the leadership of the United States, alliances, and commitments, and to have a new global climate gathering.

"If [Biden] is elected and if Trump is defeated, that in and of itself sends an incredible, powerful message around the world" that "the last four years were an aberration and not representative of what America is and aspires to be," suggested the Biden campaign's senior foreign policy adviser, Antony Blinken.

The adviser acknowledged that while these plans "will give us a moment," that "it won't last long."

But it won't be just turning the clock back four years. While Biden is also bringing over Obama White House and State Department veterans, all insist that they are aware the world and the U.S. are not the same as they were when Biden and former President Barack Obama left office.

Not only have all the Obama era policies not held up over time, there are changes Trump has brought that can't be reversed as easily as rejoining a health organization. Basically, the U.S. and the world have changed with Trump in charge, and there have also been changes unrelated to Trump. It can just be chalked up to progress and time marching on.

Directly related to Trump, relationships with allies and adversaries have changed. Some may not welcome Biden coming in while others would.

"As Europeans, we should not think that if there is a new American president, the situation is as it was before President Trump was elected, said Clément Beaune, French minister of state for  European affairs, who spoke last week with U.S. reporters.

"Some of the trends of Trump — pressure on the European Union, on defense financing, tough on trade ... the hard game played with China — the main elements of this will continue somehow."

Polls show that France, Germany, and other nations have moved away from a place of revolving around the U.S. and now see this country on an equal plane to China. Beaume said they have learned that "if you are just waiting for the big partners ... to make political choices ... just waiting and seeing what happens, I think you are not defending your own interests."

Nevertheless, the world is waiting on the November 3 results to find out if they will still need to contend with Trump or whether they will start dealing with Biden.

Peter Wittig, Germany's ambassador to Washington, wrote in the current edition of Foreign Affairs, "Faith in the United States as the standard-bearer of democracy has eroded all over Europe."

"Style and tonality matters," Wittig said in an interview. "It would be a great relief to even have a president who respects allies." But "I think people don't really expect U-turns. They know that Europe has become less important to the Americans, that attention will be absorbed by China and Russia. Nobody expects to go back to the status quo ante."

First, Biden plans to take care of pressing issues here at home in the U.S. "Foreign policy is domestic policy, and domestic policy is foreign policy," he said in a speech in July 2019 when vying for the Democratic nomination. "They are a deeply connected set of choices we make about how to advance the American way of life and our vision for the future."

To put the U.S. back on its feet with the rest of the world, Biden plans to first return to holding a prominent place on climate change, nonproliferation, and global health. Next would be regrouping alliances, mostly in Europe and Asia.

"Climate change, nuclear proliferation, great power aggression, transnational terrorism, cyberwarfare, disruptive new technologies, mass migration — none of them can be resolved by the United States, or any nation, acting alone," he said in the July 2019 speech.

Trump left the Obama administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership, but Biden has not committed to rejoining it. He won't immediately turn over the tariffs and sanctions Trump set but has said he will review Chinese trade and industrial practices.

"The United States does need to get tough with China," Biden wrote earlier this year. "The most effective way to meet that challenge is to build a united front of U.S. allies and partners to confront China's abuse behaviors and human rights violations," while at the same time bringing China in to solve problems such as climate change and North Korea.

Moving across the globe, the Democratic nominee has vowed to spend $4 billion on a regional strategy for Central America "to take on the corruption, violence, and endemic poverty driving people to leave their homes." It's another way to handle the immigration dilemma, fixing the reasons they are leaving rather than taking away their options.

Biden has said he would pursue an extension of the New START nuclear treaty with Russia. He'll "use that as a foundation for new arms control arrangements." It doesn't seem like he will be reducing the sanctions burden on Russia.

One thing Biden does not plan to reverse is the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Yet, he would restore U.S. aid to Palestinians that Trump canceled and reopen the Palestinian consulate in Washington.

He'll consider Trump's plan for withdrawal and redeployment of 9,500 troops from Germany. When Biden was vice president, he opposed bringing more troops to Afghanistan and has said he would withdraw "combat troops" in favor of Special Operations forces, should he be elected.

Many of the more definitive policy decisions will wait until Biden's in office. "One of the first things, even as we're confronting a whole series of new challenges and the need to deal with them as they are, not as we were," is the importance of "getting back to a process and regular order in the creation of policy," Blinken said. 

"This is not at all about going back to 2009, or pick your date. This is about dealing with the world as it will be in January of next year."

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