The recent election of Joe Biden to the Presidency of the United States of America sparked elation across the United States and the wider world. Even in St Andrews, celebrations were observed across social media from Americans, British, and a range of international students. However, this new presidency will not bring an end to the neo-colonial American empire that has persisted through presidencies of both parties since the Second World War.
Today, the United States remains one of the most influential and trendsetting powers in world politics. Even after the national embarrassment of the Trump administration and the rise of China onto the global stage, the US remains a world leader and forerunner by its preeminent GDP and officious military might. The United States’ presence in the Middle East is especially dominant, with troops and military bases spread across the region.
Under the Presidencies of both Barak Obama and Donald Trump, we did not see a discontinuation of the Bush-era military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan as promised. In fact, American presence in Syria increased as did support for Saudi Arabian interests in Yemen. Biden has a long record of supporting American middle east occupation. In 2003, he voted for and openly supported the Iraq War and then moved on to help oversee a 1000% hike in Middle East drone strikes as Vice President.
Biden’s involvement with direct military action was also supplemented by the sales of arms to undemocratic regimes with questionable Human Rights records. A 2016 Reuters report showed that over the course of the Obama administration, US weapons and vehicle sales to Saudi Arabia topped $115 billion. From 2002, the United States has also sold weapons to UAE, Egypt, Kuwait, and Israel, all of which have long records of Human Rights law and Geneva convention violations.
The final aspect of Biden’s foreign policy that should be concerning to world citizens is his unconditional support of Israel. While Biden did not move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, as was ordered by the Trump administration, he has spoken for AIPAC, an anti-Palestinian lobbying organization who have shown unconditional support for the Netanyahu Administration. In 2019 alone the Israeli military killed 28 Palestinians who were non-involved in protest, including 10 children. AIPAC is also a vocal support group for the increase of colonial settlements in the West Bank, which have been condemned by the United Nations as a breach of Human Rights law. In total, Biden’s arms sales and support show an ignorance for the misdeeds of governments of which have caused the deaths and harm of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people.
Though this outlook is pessimistic, there is still some hope for the Biden Presidency. First and foremost, Biden has pledged to re-enter the US into the Paris Climate Accord. This means that the US will take back an element of global leadership on climate change, and if built upon correctly, could mean the rescue of the planet. Secondly, his presidency brings optimism to the US re-joining the Iran Nuclear Deal. Since the Trump exit of this agreement, Iran has re-started their nuclear weapons program and millions have felt the harsh consequences of economic sanctions and blockades. A re-entry into the deal would mean a more secure global system alongside the prosperity of the Iranian people.
Biden’s foreign policy will not bring the structural change that the world needs in its current tumultuous state. However, the possibility remains for him to make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions if he plays his cards right and takes the initiative to shape a better world.