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3 ways for Biden to get his foreign policy rolling despite 'obstruction' and 'roadblocks' from Trump's Pentagon

Published by Business Insider on Sat, 09 Jan 2021


<p><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5ff8cb3ebde805001980bfa1-2000/ap_18043629946728.jpg" border="0" alt="joe biden" data-mce-source="Associated Press/Andrew Harnik" data-mce-caption="Former Vice President Joe Biden arrives for a ceremony for the unveiling of the official portraits for former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, in Washington."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p style="font-weight: 400;">President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration is only days away. His transition team <a href="https://www.axios.com/biden-trump-transition-defense-obstruction-roadblocks-be691345-19fb-4453-a463-3a8c66473b20.html" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.axios.com/biden-trump-transition-defense-obstruction-roadblocks-be691345-19fb-4453-a463-3a8c66473b20.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628105000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF01VpZTs5trDzQStiGZY7tpAc9Eg">has reportedly</a> "encountered obstruction" and "roadblocks" from outgoing officials in the Pentagon, which may slow the new administration's start on foreign policy.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">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.</p><h2>1. Strategize and prioritize</h2><p style="font-weight: 400;"><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/570fbfab9105842a008bcb5e/52460213965729814cf5o.jpg" border="0" alt="obama biden" data-mce-source="White House Photo" data-link="https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/5246021396/in/photolist-8ZzeoL-6sAoRK-a3CcjB-6ype6Y-6PkngD-rgbH9k-9R5PRN-6iSyua-ri48iP-9HaimQ-jDKoFU-7nW4XX-oQQvGo-6o59pH-9H7pSx-8cvycW-p8jMnM-9xM6Gc-7JB7SM-7ooUUu-9AqY54-77FMaM-9Haipf-9AqW7M-9AqXwn-8f1Y4g-oQQ3yN-oQQ2RA-9c8A1y-brXSiC-dyUKWo-6re7g4-7d8i1m-6iWE6G-8Zwcga-7ttJBG-9AqY7k-6yk4wi-7BWJem-9xQouJ-82ftQg-a9r5sD-9oKXru-7qpF5d-6sAumX-6o59pa-7JEWP7-9AtPhq-6ypcKw-6ypcRE"></p><p style="font-weight: 400;">The Biden administration should begin by developing a <a href="https://www.defensepriorities.org/explainers/restraint-a-post-covid-19-us-national-security-strategy" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.defensepriorities.org/explainers/restraint-a-post-covid-19-us-national-security-strategy&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628105000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHpKXhhoJHArBYdVmnsVRZZ46Mnmg">realistic, coherent grand strategy for US foreign policy</a>.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">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'</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">Given our state of perpetual war, such strategizing requires sober assessment of what US military meddling in other nations' affairs can accomplishnot what we <em>want</em> 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.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">A <a href="https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/ending-our-military-first-foreign-policy/" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/ending-our-military-first-foreign-policy/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628105000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGQ2iUVLvgVbo5nLW32lvs-WwNNiA">military-first foreign policy</a> has not served us well, <a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-08-03/ending-endless-war" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-08-03/ending-endless-war&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628105000&amp;usg=AFQjCNH6JZO6VluPxIHuqfY69iEe-sv0Rw">nor has it accomplished</a> the many promised benefits for residents of the nations in which we've fought.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">Clear-eyed pragmatism and principled opposition to reckless, <a href="https://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/04/trumps-dangerous-expansion-of-executive-war-powers-000387" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/04/trumps-dangerous-expansion-of-executive-war-powers-000387&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628105000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFi--zwBfrI4NIjK-UrVtehaffwKQ">unaccountable war-making</a> should coincide in a new strategy for US foreign affairs.</p><h2>2. End the forever warscompletely</h2><p style="font-weight: 400;"><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5ff8ce2bd184b30018aade04-2000/GettyImages-108013876.jpg" border="0" alt="Joe Biden soldiers troops Bagram Kabul Afghanistan" data-mce-source="SHAH MARAI/AFP via Getty Images" data-mce-caption="US Vice President Joe Biden with US soldiers at Bagram airbase, north of Kabul, January 12, 2011."></p><p style="font-weight: 400;">Strategizing looks forward, but Biden will also need to address present entanglements abroad.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">To his credit, the president-elect <a href="https://joebiden.com/americanleadership/" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://joebiden.com/americanleadership/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628105000&amp;usg=AFQjCNH_eXygd7HMyu3YUl4cAUOpteHmkA">has promised</a> 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, <a href="https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-12-29/afghanistan-u-s-troops-withdrawal-donald-trump-joe-biden-taliban" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-12-29/afghanistan-u-s-troops-withdrawal-donald-trump-joe-biden-taliban&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628105000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFGn-7BzsVkDfakP8gNyw7mEkMm5g">he intends to leave</a> a small contingent of US troops in Afghanistan indefinitely, which presents a constant and unacceptable risk of re-escalation.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">Biden <a href="https://reason.com/2020/12/01/bidens-natsec-team-is-conventional-in-style-and-unfortunately-policy/" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://reason.com/2020/12/01/bidens-natsec-team-is-conventional-in-style-and-unfortunately-policy/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628105000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHtwYHpAG2SeUJO-k7f0Ac6pSUaTQ">also failed to pick</a> staff who share his vision for winding down these wars. His choices for <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/12/14/biden-defense-pick-austin-no-return-to-civilian-control-column/3894166001/" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/12/14/biden-defense-pick-austin-no-return-to-civilian-control-column/3894166001/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628105000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF642NyWgDkGMtP4zlYnblf_Q-hmA">secretary of defense</a>, secretary of state, national security adviser, and director of national intelligence all have records from the Obama era more hawkish than his own.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">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 <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/02/14/pentagon-shaves-65-billion-by-selling-obsolete-equipment-trimming-back-office/" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/02/14/pentagon-shaves-65-billion-by-selling-obsolete-equipment-trimming-back-office/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628105000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEXLdPPJfhZWivnACwb6zWaw_yK_g">world's largest bureaucracy</a> and a Congress <a href="https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/congress-is-supposed-to-constrain-war-instead-its-constraining-peace" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/congress-is-supposed-to-constrain-war-instead-its-constraining-peace&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628106000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGo3OM6fCNnAecZMHTxp7FYd3ouXQ">actively hostile to peace</a> but also the wills of his closest counselors.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">This team is especially unlikely to push Biden to the further needed step of <em>complete</em> US military withdrawal from the greater Middle East, Afghanistan included.</p><h2>3. Pivot toward realistic diplomacy</h2><p style="font-weight: 400;"><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/561d57649dd7cc24008c169d/rtr2q9e9.jpg" border="0" alt="Joe Biden" data-mce-source="REUTERS/Toru Hanai" data-mce-caption="Joe Biden."></p><p style="font-weight: 400;">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 other countries, which for private citizens means trade and travel and for our government means diplomacy.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">A key challenge for the Biden administration is to dispense with old, false assumptions about diplomacy that are <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/international/516872-diplomacy-with-china-is-good-for-america" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://thehill.com/opinion/international/516872-diplomacy-with-china-is-good-for-america&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628106000&amp;usg=AFQjCNE84wv_oX1FKSZiU0lkiDxbhLeOSA">endemic in Washington</a>. Diplomacy is not a reward for good behavior. It is not something we only do with nice, democratic governments. It is not quick, and it is not one-sided. Refusing to come to the negotiating table until after all our demands are met is not diplomacy; it is the futile tantrum of a deluded superpower.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">A more <a href="https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-state-department-doesnt-understand-the-purpose-of-diplomacy" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-state-department-doesnt-understand-the-purpose-of-diplomacy&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628106000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEMM6rQrguVViiKoZGH1SDcgIHmow">realistic and patient</a> approach to diplomacy will be vital to US security in the next four years and beyond. Wild, maximalist demands have gotten us nowhere good with <a href="https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/trump-and-biden-should-tread-lightly-after-assassination-of-iranian-scientist" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/trump-and-biden-should-tread-lightly-after-assassination-of-iranian-scientist&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628106000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHy-lOP2OyE1GlO4yZn4rjj2M5Yaw">Iran</a> and <a href="https://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2020/12/04/resetting_with_north_korea_652024.html" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2020/12/04/resetting_with_north_korea_652024.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628106000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHtrUKsWIICNC1BtemN42zu6_b9ow">North Korea</a>. Obsequiousness toward dictators bizarrely paired with <a href="https://theweek.com/speedreads/945400/trump-vividly-reminds-that-doesnt-know-how-tariffs-work" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://theweek.com/speedreads/945400/trump-vividly-reminds-that-doesnt-know-how-tariffs-work&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628106000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHC5RUx3-WzQNLEQZCLJFwy83h7cQ">self-sabotaging tariffs</a> and <a href="https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/true-danger-withdrawing-open-skies-treaty-159411" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/true-danger-withdrawing-open-skies-treaty-159411&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628106000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGyZVUpNNexNf201CGrY5dJhnUNGA">treaty withdrawals</a> have not improved US relations with <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/international/516872-diplomacy-with-china-is-good-for-america" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://thehill.com/opinion/international/516872-diplomacy-with-china-is-good-for-america&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628106000&amp;usg=AFQjCNE84wv_oX1FKSZiU0lkiDxbhLeOSA">China</a> and Russia. Public insults <a href="https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/07/31/trumps-reasoning-is-bad-but-withdrawing-troops-from-germany-is-a-good-idea/" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/07/31/trumps-reasoning-is-bad-but-withdrawing-troops-from-germany-is-a-good-idea/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628106000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHWzxZeUwqVOg12XyN-MM1Ddl7Dig">have neither</a> endeared us to our Western allies nor enticed them to the burden-sharing the insults <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-plan-to-move-troops-to-poland-lack-of-strategy-2020-7" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url'q=https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-plan-to-move-troops-to-poland-lack-of-strategy-2020-7&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1610215628106000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHFTNuTjEbK1MKQVvRYvj2ddxDP5g">were intended</a> to produce.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;">Biden can and must do better by making careful, working-level diplomacy the center of US foreign policy from 2021 onward. He should begin at once.</p><p style="font-weight: 400;"></p><p style="font-weight: 400;"><em>Bonnie Kristian is a fellow at Defense Priorities, contributing editor at The Week, and columnist at Christianity Today. Her writing has also appeared at CNN, NBC, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and Defense One, among other outlets.</em></p><p><strong>SEE ALSO:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/joe-biden-us-foreign-policy-relationship-with-saudi-arabia-2020-12" >Biden needs to remember what kind of friend Saudi Arabia really is</a></strong></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/ways-biden-can-get-foreign-policy-going-despite-trump-pentagon-2021-1#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/joe-biden-harris-world-reactions-election-2020-11">WATCH: From heads of state to mask makers, the world is celebrating Biden's victory over Trump</a></p>
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