President-elect Biden’s Middle Eastern foreign policy will likely reflect that of the Obama administration, for which he served as vice president. One example is U.S. relations with Israel. The U.S., regardless of who is president, is committed to the security of Israel. Nevertheless, President Obama and Biden disagreed significantly with Prime Minister Netanyahu, often over resolving differences between Israel and Palestine. Netanyahu also closely aligned himself with President Trump, Biden’s opponent during the election. However, separating policy from personality, Biden declared that he will support Trump’s relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite strong Palestinian opposition.
One of the greatest changes in American foreign policy with Biden may likely be the reduction in tensions between the U.S. and Iran. During the Obama presidency, the U.S. and Iran slowly created a working relationship, certainly the best since the 1979 Revolution. This improvement in relations included the U.S. paying $1.7 billion in once-disputed funds, the U.S. declining requests from other regional powers to attack Iran, and a swap of U.S. and Iranian personnel. Most important, in 2015, Iran pledged to a nuclear arms deal that would control its nuclear program. In return for reducing its nuclear activities, Iran would be freed from severe economic sanctions.
Trump denounced the agreement, and when he became president the U.S. withdrew from the deal in 2018. Biden declared Trump’s policies are a “dangerous failure,” and he has expressed his desire to restore the positive relations that existed when he was Obama’s vice president. Biden indicated his interest in reactivating the nuclear agreement and nullifying Trump’s travel ban imposed on Iran. One factor that Biden must consider is that during the current national election the Republican Party maintained its control over the U.S. Senate. This means Biden’s opponents will be influential in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.
Biden has pledged significantly to strengthen significantly relations between the U.S. and the EU. Trump’s public criticisms of European leaders, the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Europe, and ongoing trade battles have deeply divided political and economic relationships between the U.S. and the EU. A large majority of Europeans favored Biden defeating Trump. At the same time, it is important to remember that both Obama and Trump repeatedly called upon Europe’s NATO allies to increase the size of their defense budgets to 2 percent of GDP. Biden will likely do the same.
Biden’s foreign policies towards both China and Russia will be cautious and tense. During the Obama presidency, Biden and President Xi Jinping appeared to develop a positive relationship. Yet, neither Xi nor Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Biden for winning the 2020 election. Perhaps this is because while defeating Trump who said he would be lenient towards China, Biden declared that Xi was a “thug.” Neither Xi nor Russian leader Vladimir Putin congratulated Biden for winning the election. Since 2016, Biden and the Democratic Party have accused Putin of collusion in aiding Trump’s presidential election by sabotaging Hillary Clinton in that year’s unsuccessful campaign.