US Foreign Policy Analysis – Biden sorts America’s friends and enemies

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The new president is bringing the foreign policy that was faltering under Trump back on track. This has consequences for Switzerland, especially with regard to China.

Competition, cooperation, enmity - depending on the situation: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Joe Biden, here still as US Vice President, in Beijing (August 2011).

Competition, cooperation, enmity – depending on the situation: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Joe Biden, here still as US Vice President, in Beijing (August 2011).

Photo: Lintao Zhang (AFP)

Joe Biden doesn’t let anything burn anymore. Barely in office, the US president subjected his country to a radical vaccination cure. And to mitigate the economic consequences of the pandemic, he put the money printing machines in Gang. Now dhe is 78-year-old trying to readjust American foreign policy as well. During his election campaign he had already announced that under his leadership würden the USA «sit up at the table again».

Biden rose to take this place. He has also changed the table order: the autocrats and dictators from Vladimir Putin to Mohammed bin Salman to Donald Trumps are no longer there «friend» Kim Jong-a. The western allies are back for this, from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom Biden paid the first visit following an old tradition, to Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. The new US president has sorted America’s friends and enemies again.

Biden is alarmed because the West is at a turning point in the competition of values.

In his first dinner speech he gave at the Munich Security Conference stopped, Biden was alarmed because the West was at a turning pointt in the competition of values ​​with an increasingly self-confident China and a defiant Russia. «Democracy does not come about by chance. We have to defend, strengthen and renew it, ”demanded the US President, clearly distinguishing himself from his predecessor.

Wants to urge China to respect human rights: US President Joe Biden at his first press conference.

Wants to urge China to respect human rights: US President Joe Biden at his first press conference.

Photo: Oliver Contreras (EPA)

At the same time, he holds America’s allies accountable. During the Trump years, they had cause for complaint because they were snubbed by the American President. Which at the same time gave them an excuse to remain inactive when dealing with autocratic regimes. So it happened to the German Chancellor that, despite the criticism from Washington of the controversial Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

The fact that the American President called Vladimir Putin a “killer” was undiplomatic, but not wrong.

However, there are now increasing signs that Europeans are not subordinating all cherished political principles to business interests. With the sanctions against Russia they even anticipated the Americans. Shortly afterwards, the US government also decided on the Poisoning of the Kremlin critics Alexei Nawalny to respond by the Russian secret service. That the American President Vladimir Putin as «Killer» referred to, was undiplomatic, but not wrong – and not only a signal to the Kremlin, but also to hesitant allies.

“The United States’s relationship with China will be competitive when necessary;  cooperative if possible;  and hostile if need be »: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (2nd from right) at the first meeting with a Chinese delegation in Anchorage, Alaska.

«The United States’ relationship with China will be competitive when necessary; cooperative if possible; and hostile if need be»: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (2nd from right) at the first meeting with a Chinese delegation in Anchorage, Alaska.

Foto: Frederic J. Brown (AP)

The measures against China also seem to be coordinated. The Europeans once again led the way with the first sanctions since the massacre on Tiananmen Square in 1989. Only a few provincial officials in Xinjiang are affected for the time being. The communist regime is accused of serious human rights violations against the Muslim minority, as satellite images and leaked documents suggest. Reaffirmed at its first press conference on Thursday Biden that he wants to urge China to respect human rights. Be Foreign Minister Antony Blinken and Josep Borrell, Head of EU foreign policy, want to talk regularly about China from now on, as they agreed this week.

The transatlantic alliance is an important part of Biden’s strategy of encircling China.

The sanctions hardly hurt those in power in Russia and China. They are important, however, as they revive the old alliance between the US and Europe. The transatlantic alliance is an important part of Biden’s strategy of encircling China. But not the only one: the US President recently hosted the first quad summit, what for «Quadrilateral Security Dialogue» stands. It acts es sI am about a loose alliance between Japan, India, Australia and the USA that was formed after the 2004 tsunami to coordinate aid.

Now it is a matter of counteracting China’s increasing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, the keywords are Taiwan, South China Sea and of course the nnew silk road. In addition, the so-called «Five eyes», a cooperation of the secret services of Great Britain, the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, the chinese Hong Kong action condemned – to the unmistakable annoyance of Beijing.

No one has benefited as much from the alienation between Washington and its allies during the Trump years as China. The refrain was a regular occurrence in Beijing «The east opens, and the west is going under» intoned. Most recently after the storm on the Washington Capitol or in view of Trump’s never-ending talk of electoral fraud. In the meantime, however, a certain nervousness seems to be growing in Beijing, as suggested by the regime’s violent reaction to the European sanctions.

Washington is again assuming the responsibility that the status of a superpower, especially a democratic one, brings with it.

So is Biden’s readjustment of foreign policy already having an effect? At least he never doubted that the US would need its allies to meet a challenge like modern China. Trump’s myopic «America First» war dfor dImmensely unsuitable. Meanwhile, Washington is taking responsibility againhr that the status of a superpower, especially a democratic one, brings with it.

With that – and not just with Trillion dollar investment programs – Joe Biden ties in with his role model. Franklin D. Roosevelt argued shortly before the US entered World War II that a world in which powerful dictatorships like NazidGermany and Imperial Japan ruled their regions «shabby and dangerous place to live ». In such a world, like that Roosevelt, even the US is not safe, despite being surrounded by two harmless neighbors and two oceans.

The Federal Council need not be impressed by the aggressive reaction of the Chinese ambassador.

Even Switzerland, anchored in the west, cannot avoid facing the challenge in the Far East. With its new China strategy, the Federal Council has identified the dilemma facing Swiss politics. Despite the great business interests of the local economy Aussenminister Ignazio Cassis indicated that China is violating human rights. He also spoke of «authoritarian tendencies ”,“ geopolitical ambitions ”and“ oppressed minorities ”. After all, that’s a start the Chinese ambassador in Bern with his aggressive reaction wanted to destroy immediately. The Swiss government does not have to be impressed by this; diplomats sent by Beijing like to use intimidation. (Read the comment on the Swiss strategy for China here.)

Presented the new Swiss strategy for China: Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis.

Presented the new Swiss strategy for China: Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis.

Foto: Anthony Anex (Keystone)

Although dealing with China is becoming more confrontational, that is not the end of the dialogue. Even with a dictatorship like the Chinese, the West has common interests, be it in climate policy, in fighting the pandemic or in dealing with Iran and North Korea. Unlike Trump, who first ensnared and then insulted Chinese ruler Xi Jinping, Biden takes a differentiated approach. Depending on the topic, you sit down at the table with China. «The United States’ relationship with China will be competitive when necessary; cooperative if possible; and hostile if need be»brought it US Secretary of State Blinken to the point. An attitude that also gives Switzerland enough leeway to deal appropriately with Beijing.

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Foreign Policy Analysis Biden sorts Americas friends enemies

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