Biden Administration Faces an Ever-Harsher World and Aims to Improve World Standing

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken Photo credit: Mike Coppola

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken Photo credit: Mike Coppola

Owen Huang

The Biden administration’s goal worldwide is to improve the American standing while vowing to bring an end to eras of conflict and inequality and usher in a new age. The United States has entered a new era with the country now under the guidance of President Joe Biden, a longtime senator now fulfilling his goal as president. This marks the end of an often chaotic four years under President Donald Trump, the implications of which extended far beyond the borders of the United States. During the Trump presidency, foreigners’ respect for the United States dropped precipitously. Pew Research Center marked this period as easily the world’s citizens having the least favorable view of the United States in the decades of polling on this subject. The country’s handling of the pandemic has made matters far worse. A nation once seen as the precedent of democracy is now being avoided by the international community.

Trump’s relationship with Russia garnered much attention, especially considering the nation’s attacks on human rights and proven hacking interventions into American elections. Biden, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have both promised to crack down on what they view as unjustifiable actions.

Nations less friendly with the United States, including Russia and Turkey, have come out against Biden’s election. Biden expressed he will be very critical of the Chinese regime, something he has done intermittently. At times, some have urged Biden to act much harsher toward Beijing.

So far, during Biden’sfirst days in office, the administration has, under the leadership of Blinken, denounced the territorial claims China made in the South China Sea as a “threat” that will be defended against. Biden is often seen by some as having a friendly, casual relationship not only with China but its ruler, Xi Jinping. While it is true the leaders have met, Biden has stressed that he is a critic of the regime.

International reactions to the election of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have largely been hopeful. Harris herself is the daughter of immigrants to this country, representing a large and important segment of the American population that has much to say about foreign affairs. Traditional allies of the United States resoundingly welcomed the change, in regions Trump often seemed to severely damage.

Biden has made againfriendly ties a priority, something Europe welcomes but wants to see quickly. For some, Trump-era policies of disconnect have been enough to entirely sour perspectives of the United States. Discussing the new administration, Nathalie Tocci, Italy’s director of the Institute of International Affairs, said “We Europeans need to be careful about our expectations from the Americans in our neighborhood” according to The New York Times.

The region, mired by the pandemic and economic fallout caused by Brexit, is cautiously hoping the new administration can restore a previous level of communication that has largely come undone. In some areas, Europe feels that it may be able to act more swiftly without American assistance. The continent largely wishes for more autonomy in making worldwide decisions.

The view is much the same for other American allies: these countries want a United States they can look up to and trust, particularly given the immense power the country wields even in the farthest reaches of the globe.

For still developing countries globally, the United States serves an important role as the nation others look up to. Aspiring democracies embody the American government and sometimes even use its currency. With such a clear line, how the United States acts will directly decide similar actions taken by other countries.

Under Trump, the United States saw a period of increased hostility towards many nations, but a less stern view towards others.

Trump repeatedly condemned the sometimes totalitarian Chinese communist regime for certain humanitarian disasters, often punishing the world’s largest population with tariffs. The hugely strained relationship between the world’s two largest economies will be an extremely important issue for the Biden administration

Trump has also pulled out of many longstanding and recent international agreements, such as the Paris Climate Accord, Iran Nuclear Deal and the World Health Organization (WHO) in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.In his first moments in office, Biden signed papers to rejoin most of these organizations with promises to negotiate on behalf of others, like the Iranian deal.

Biden appointed Linda Thomas-Greenfield to occupy the role of the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, an organization Trump repeatedly expressed disdain for. While the body cannot hold jurisdiction over the sovereignty of independent nations, it maintains much sway for many countries through which it is a primary speaking platform. Thomas-Greenfield should know much about the identities of and American ties with many of these nations, seeing her longtime Foreign Service and recent occupation of the post as Assistant Secretary of State, overseeing the African Bureau section of the department.

Within the United Nations, her role will be to promote American interests abroad, ideally, as the administration hopes, while strengthening international perception, which in turn might lead to the United States once again having an impactful, important say in global affairs. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and WHO are two prominent UN bodies that the Trump administration withdrew from, setting the stage for an important American comeback as the world faces an unprecedented pandemic and level of violations of human rights globally.

The Biden administration wants the United States to be at the forefront of fighting climate change, finding social justice, and bringing the world closer to peace, especially in areas such as the Middle East and easing tensions with countries like China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. In many ways, this will mimic administrations prior to Trump’s but is also claiming to strive to leave a positive indelible mark on the globe.