After closely conversing with senior foreign policy experts on Joe Biden’s team, Thomas Wright, Director of the Center on the United States and Europe for the influential think-tank the Brookings Institute, penned an unintentionally hair-raising article on what a Biden presidency would look like for the rest of the world. He explains to his elite audience of Washington insiders that Biden’s prospective staff are “worried about rising authoritarianism and see the world as a more geopolitically competitive place, particularly in U.S.-China relations,” and see war and conflict with Beijing and Moscow as close to inevitable.
War with Beijing
Biden’s team believes the U.S.’ entire industrial policy should be designed around how to “compete with China.” Their “top priorities,” Wright notes, are “dealing with authoritarian governments include defending democracy and tackling corruption, as well as understanding how these challenges intersect with new technologies, such as 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and synthetic biology.”
Described by The Economist as “American’s most prestigious think tank,” the Brookings Institute is a non-partisan, centrist behemoth at the heart of Washington, D.C with massive operating revenue of over $117 million. It is, in other words, likely to have extremely good information on the Biden team’s priorities, which, according to Wright, are working closely with Europe to quash the “China challenge” and to “reform the global economy.”
He does note that there is some debate within the Democratic elite on China. For instance, “what level of sanctions should the United States impose” on Beijing and “how far the U.S. should go.” Taken for granted, it seems, is that that some level is necessary. The questions of whether any sanctions are necessary, or even if they are legal, appear beyond doubt. The People’s Republic is constantly denounced in Washington for its response to the Hong Kong protests, treatment of Uighurs and its supposed mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The article presents President Obama’s “pivot to Asia” policy that saw China encircled with American military bases as half-hearted. Biden Democrats consider “modernizing the military” to reflect new threats a “top priority.” However, as media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, “modernization” has long been a euphemism for “massive military buildup.” Therefore, it appears that China is well and truly in the crosshairs of a Biden presidency.
Cold War 2.0
An increase in hostilities with Russia is also described as a near certainty. Top Democrats claim that the likelihood is that President Biden will take office “after significant Russian interference in the election, and therefore may need to impose tough new sanctions.” Thus, Democrats have gone from charging Putin for their loss in 2016 to pre-emptively blaming him in 2020. “Democrats have also learned some lessons from Trump,” Wright says. Chief among them was that Trump arming Ukrainian forces – including Neo-Nazis – went reasonably well, which suggests more aggressive provocations against Moscow will be in order.
Indeed, a surprising amount of the article is devoted to praising Trump, claiming that “catastrophe also did not strike” when he bombed Syria, “killing large numbers of Russian mercenaries.” Policy thinkers, he claims, saw Trump’s strong-arming as a successful tactic and believe Democrats could do the same to “prevent further erosion of democracy” and to “deter aggression.”
Pulling out of the Middle East
Perhaps the most surprising prediction is that Biden’s team will consider the Middle East a far less important region than administrations that came before it. It is an open question, apparently, whether the U.S. will maintain such a strong presence in the area, preferring to redeploy resources to China and Russia. Unstated is whether this decision has anything to do with fracking bringing energy independence to America or the gradual shift away from fossil fuels.
Regardless of the reasoning, Biden’s team’s vision for 2021 closely mirrors the Pentagon’s. As MintPress News reported last month, the Pentagon’s $705 billion budget request indicates “a shifting focus from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a greater emphasis on the types of weapons that could be used to confront nuclear giants like Russia and China.” The Pentagon’s precise wording notes that it is trying to acquire “more advanced high-end weapon systems, which provide increased standoff, enhanced lethality and autonomous targeting for employment against near-peer threats in a more contested environment.”
Biden is currently the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic nomination. However, cognitive decline, a distinct lack of popular policy proposals and a new rape allegation against the former vice-president threaten to stop his momentum. Enthusiasm, even among his supporters, is extremely low; a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows 53 percent of Trump’s backers are “very enthusiastic” about him, with only 24 percent of Biden supporters said the same. Worse still for the former Delaware senator, 15 percent of Bernie Sanders voters told pollsters they would vote for Trump if Biden was the nominee. This news might come as some relief to Chinese or Russians who do not wish to be bombed like people across the Middle East were when Biden was vice-president. However, American foreign policy is notoriously bi-partisan, indicating that those countries will likely be in the crosshairs whichever party wins in November.
Feature photo | Vice President Joe Biden, center, stands as an Army carry team moves the body of a US soldier killed in Afghanistan at Dover Air Force Base, Del, Nov. 15, 2016. Steve Ruark | AP
Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.