Biden Forges New Foreign Policy for the New Century

Momin Razzaque, Contributing Writer

President Biden took great strides this month in unveiling his administration’s foreign policy program, turning a new leaf after his predecessor shattered alliances with several key U.S. partners. The Biden administration has signaled that his foreign policy priorities lie in rebuilding alliances with key European allies such as France and Germany, as well as providing a strong counter to perceived adversaries in Russia and China. Notably, President Biden in his first few weeks in office fielded phone calls with neighbors, allies and foes, yet eschewed calls with key Middle Eastern leaders. After a month into his administration, Biden finally made direct contact with the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia, however his presumptive indifference towards the Middle East indicated a shift away from the twenty-year dominance of the Middle East as front-and-center in U.S. Foreign Policy.

As the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden’s insouciance is calculated. The new administration appears to deemphasize the Middle East’s relevance, and instead raises a strong counter to a dangerous and increasingly hostile China. This is a sound decision that prepares the foreign policy establishment to confront Chinese aggression around the world. Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls America’s relationship with mainland China the “biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century,” and has signaled intentions to break with traditional, collaborative U.S. views towards China. 

President Biden has positioned himself as a determined rival for Chinese President Xi Jinping. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, also broke with mainstream views towards China, recognizing China and the Communist Party as a threat and an opponent to U.S. interests. However, the Trump administration’s policy was driven by dishonest populism and emotion rather than cohesive geopolitical strategy, a prime example of which is placing tariffs on Chinese exports, followed by tariffs on India, China’s most significant and formidable continental rival. The Biden administration has taken a more cogent approach, working with China’s other rivals to develop a sound approach to relations with China.

President Biden has coordinated with Australia, Japan and India to initiate the first-ever “Quad” meeting. The Quad, officially known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is an informal alliance between the four major liberal democracies in the Asia-Pacific region. These three powerful nations all feel threatened by Beijing, and their geopolitical interests align with the U.S. as its government acts as a counterweight to China. Just as NATO is dedicated to the security of the Euroatlantic area, the Quad has the potential to be a body that provides security and stability in the Asia-Pacific, whilst advancing specific interests.

Biden’s nascent administration has orientated itself as a robust counterbalance to a menacing China and has seized this moment of serendipity to transition the U.S. foreign policy establishment away from a Middle East-centric outlook and towards countering China. Biden has adroitly instituted the infrastructure needed in order to tackle this new geopolitical challenge. This coming decade will delineate the U.S.-China relationship, one that for better or for worse will define the 21st century.