Biden’s ‘narrow’ foreign policy ‘barely any different to Trump’

Joe Biden faces drop in approval ratings after polling

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One year into his presidency, Joe Biden is the second-most unpopular US president of all time, coming in just after Donald Trump’s abysmal approval ratings in 2017. Reflecting on these approval ratings, Professor Rob Singh, expert in contemporary US politics and American foreign policy at Birkbeck, University of London, described how there have been subtle changes “at the margins” of Biden’s policy decisions, but more “continuity” than international analysts had expected from the Democrat president.

He told “When it comes to the substance of foreign policy, there’s a lot more continuity with the Trump administration than many were expecting.

“A lot of the emphasis [is] on multilateralism, rather than unilateralism – we haven’t really seen that realised yet.”

He added: “On things like trade, fundamentally, there’s substantial continuity between Trump and Biden, even if Biden has just now lifted some of the tariffs on Europe.”

This continuity, he said, is part of a “paradigm shift” which was born under President Obama, “advanced in a very different way under Trump, but is also being carried on by Biden.”

This shift, according to Professor Singh, is “Biden taking that slight insular term of America and a more nationalist foreign policy.”

He pointed out it is characterised by: “a withdrawal particularly from the Middle East, a refusal to actually engage in military intervention, except very much as a last resort, [and] a downplaying of human rights and democracy promotion.”

On Biden’s style of approaching foreign policy, he said: “He’s taking it on in a more diplomatic way than Trump did, but the substance, I expect, will continue.”

He added: “I don’t think its any kind of isolationist term, because America is still engaged in the wider world – not least on confronting the China challenge.

“But, I think it’s doing it more on its terms, and it is prioritising a narrower definition of the US national interest than we’ve seen over a lot of previous decades.

“The Biden administration is sort of calling its foreign policy, a foreign policy for the middle class, i.e. the middle class in America.

“That’s kind of a much more diplomatic way of saying America First, but it still is fundamentally prioritising America’s interests at home, rather than being actively engaged in all areas of the world.

“I think you can see that everywhere from the Middle East onwards, even something like the recent deal that the US, the UK, and the Australians struck.

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“That was very Trumpian, in the way they just ignored a traditional ally like France.”

Paris was left smarting after the AUKUS deal between the US, UK and Australia was announced earlier this year.

The tripartite security agreement included the provision of nuclear submarines to Australia, which overwrote the existing deal for the supply of conventional submarines from France.

France, furious with the announcement, withdrew their ambassadors to Washington and Canberra.

However, despite these foreign policy choices on the part of the Biden administration, Professor Singh said that, outside of the United States, “he’s certainly still got the respect of international leaders.”

Professor Singh evaluated Biden’s popularity on the global, rather than domestic stage: “I think most publics again because he’s not Trump quite like him.

“That seems to me relatively broad, but quite shallow.”

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