Summary List Placement
President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration is only days away. His transition team has reportedly “encountered obstruction” and “roadblocks” from outgoing officials in the Pentagon, which may slow the new administration’s start on foreign policy.
That possible delay makes it all the more important for the incoming team to have a strong and settled plan for Biden’s agenda in matters of war and peace, diplomacy and defense. Here are three first moves.
1. Strategize and prioritize
The Biden administration should begin by developing a realistic, coherent grand strategy for US foreign policy.
That means identifying vital national interests and distinguishing them from mere preferences for other actors’ behavior. What do we actually need to survive as a nation? What are priorities and what are niceties?
Given our state of perpetual war, such strategizing requires sober assessment of what US military meddling in other nations’ affairs can accomplish — not what we want it to accomplish, but what the historical record shows. The dismal run of the last seven decades (Korea, Vietnam, various smaller military and covert actions) and the post-9/11 era in particular (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen) should recommend a far more restrained approach for the future.
A military-first foreign policy has not served us well, nor has it accomplished the many promised benefits for residents of the nations in which we’ve fought.
Clear-eyed pragmatism and principled opposition to reckless, unaccountable war-making should coincide in a new strategy for US foreign affairs.
2. End the forever wars — completely
Strategizing looks forward, but Biden will also need to address present entanglements abroad.
To his credit, the president-elect has promised to “end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold blood and treasure,” and to “end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.” To his discredit, he intends to leave a small contingent of US troops in Afghanistan indefinitely, which presents a constant and unacceptable risk of re-escalation.
Biden also failed to pick staff who share his vision for winding down these wars. His choices for secretary of defense, secretary of state, national security adviser, and director of national intelligence all have records from the Obama era more hawkish than his own.
That slate of advisers will make it more difficult for Biden to deliver on his pledge to extricate the United States from these conflicts. He’ll be fighting not only the immense inertia of the world’s largest bureaucracy and a Congress actively hostile to peace but also the wills of his closest counselors.
This team is especially unlikely to push Biden to the further needed step of complete US military withdrawal from the greater Middle East, Afghanistan included.
3. Pivot toward realistic diplomacy
The effect of a move away from military intervention as a chief means of US engagement with the world need not be a shift into isolationism. On the contrary, our foreign policy should be built on mutually beneficial interaction with …read more
Source:: Business Insider