Millennium Post

Cleaning up

Cleaning up

In his first foreign policy speech as US President, Joe Biden has promised to restore America to its former place and responsibilities within the international community. This plan involves not only repairing frail alliances and reworking problematic policies but also showing the will and intention of America to stand in opposition to those who threaten peace and security across the world. America, as Biden put it, must rise to the moment and check the unrestrained growth of authoritarianism across the world. Specific mentions were made of countering the intentions of China and Russia while also extending a hand of diplomacy when possible. This is consistent with Biden's approach as his administration seeks cooperation with both of its rivals on matters like arms control and the environment but is less willing than his predecessor to overlook their attacks on freedom and democracy worldwide. Alongside this, Biden also announced his intention for holding a global democracy summit sometime in the future to build-back multilateral ties that have frayed in recent years so that comprehensive cooperation may be achieved in tackling bigger issues. With his more ideological assertions, Biden also made a few significant announcements. First, he announced that he was raising the US refugee cap to 1,25,000 in his first full fiscal year in office, up from 15,000 under the Trump administration. With this, he announced his intent to combat anti-refugee rhetoric at home and abroad which was stoked in part by his predecessor. Coming at a time when a confluence of disasters across the world is threatening to displace more and more people, Biden is seeking to re-establish America's place as one of the humanitarian leaders of the world and the self-proclaimed land of opportunity and freedom.

Another major change announced by Biden was that the US would no longer support the war in Yemen. This would include the US pausing all aid and arms sales that continue to propagate and fuel the conflict while also negotiating for a swift end to hostilities. In many ways, his announcement can be seen as a rebuke of Saudi Arabia which is seen as the many guilty parties behind turning the conflict into a full-blown humanitarian crisis. After the previous administration raised tensions in Yemen by designating the Houthi's as a terrorist group, Biden is working to bring down the temperature and bring all relevant parties to the negotiating table. At the same time, cognisant of assuaging a wary Saudi Arabia that has been unsure of his intentions, Biden also assured that the US would remain committed to helping Saudi Arabia with its regional security. This is but one part of the ongoing global shakedown and review of US forces and military commitments worldwide that the new administration is carrying out. Biden has asserted that the US is not going to be pulling out troops from Germany as Trump had previously vowed. He has not however weighed in on whether he will continue the pull-out of troops from Afghanistan that was ordered under Trump. That, of course, is part of a more complex issue of just how Biden will choose to engage and act in the middle-east theatre. There is an obvious acknowledgement that the US pulling out prematurely will almost certainly derail the Afghan peace process but there is less consensus on what level the US should remain within the region. Back home, Biden has serious concerns to handle within the US military itself. The newly elected US Defence Secretary is currently faced with the unpleasant task of weeding out nationalist and extremist elements from its ranks after reports that the January 6 attack on the Capitol had many members of the military involved in it. It is unknown how this review will be carried out and just how the Pentagon will define extremism that is concerning enough to warrant redressal. This is part of the larger shoring-up at the home effort that Biden and his administration are engaged in as they face a divided nation and equally divided Congress. As he made this speech, the US House punished a wayward Republican member and the US Senate prepared to impeach Donald Trump for a second time. To help push his aggressive move towards multilateral engagement and confronting old enemies, Biden will need America and its leadership to at least functionally come together, a daunting task at the moment.

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