It’s the Values-based, Rational Foreign Policy For Me, Joe
By Sidney Essex
“It’s the _____ For Me, Joe” is a short weekly breakdown of Joe Biden’s policy plan for a specific issue, with the aim of encouraging and energizing college students across the Democratic political spectrum—particularly those who are less than excited about Joe Biden. It is written by Sidney Essex (instagram: @sidney.essex, twitter: @essexsidney), a Biden Policy Expert on the Campaigns Committee.
It’s incredible that every constituency in the big tent Democratic Party can find a unique element of the Trump administration foreign policy that seems almost designed to infuriate them. Progressives need not look further than his eagerness to participate in the utter brutality of the war in Yemen, while interventionist hawks should balk at his Camp David invitations for the Taliban in exchange for a cheap campaign one-liner. And we should be unified in our rage at his clear, sickening admiration for dictators all over in the world, his failure to even attempt to tackle climate change on the world stage, and his shirking of the sacred responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief: to protect our service members when an adversary placed bounties on their heads.
Although Joe Biden has not spoken much about foreign policy publicly, as the central issues of this election have been very much domestic, he has released plenty of regional foreign policy plans, mostly focused on restoring America’s values and respecting human rights.
Unlike Jared Kushner, Biden supports a complex and multifaceted Middle East peace process, including a two state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, increased aid to the Kurds and Syrian Democratic Forces, and ending the atrocities in Yemen. In fact, the former Vice President’s first major foreign policy stance of the campaign was about the Saudi intervention. He stated he supports ending all weapon sales and subsidies to the Kingdom, and even going as far as pushing it into international isolation and pariahdom over its conduct. Biden is also planning to renegotiate the JCPOA with Iran while ensuring that it never has access to a nuclear weapon. In short, Joe Biden is going to pursue a Middle East policy that prioritizes American interests but recognizes the humanity of the people who live there. Donald Trump has done neither.
A Biden foreign policy would prioritize engagement with the world and standing with American allies against common threats. He would draw on his long career as a statesman on the Senate Foreign Relations committee to provide some amount of leadership on the global stage, working to build coalitions to stand up against human rights abuses and genocide. He believes in holding Russia and China accountable for their myriad transgressions, while maintaining a working relationship on vital global interests, such as nuclear proliferation and trade. He is an advocate using diplomacy to address—in the spirit of the Paris Accords—the existential threat of our time: climate change.
It is not, however, his responses to the most complex, macro issues facing our world that demonstrate Biden’s extensive foreign policy experience; it is rather his regional specific plans to combat individual crises facing the United States. For example, Biden plans to authorize a $4 billion aid program to address political instability and violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle, in order to make these countries viable for their citizens so they are not compelled to make the dangerous trek to the United States. He also has plans to prevent war between Armenia and Azerbaijan by offering to mediate peace talks and using US influence to prevent Turkey and Russia from escalating the conflict.
Perhaps most critically, Joe Biden understands the importance of United States leadership, and he believes deeply that it stems from high profile, domestic morality. As President, Biden would never tear gas peaceful racial justice protestors for a photo-op, encourage voter suppression, or attempt to undercut the legitimacy of a free and fair election because not only are these actions despicable, but because they undercut America’s ability to stand for democracy abroad. He has promised, during his first year in office, to organize and host a Global Summit for Democracy, a space for like-minded leaders, students, civil society groups, and pro-democracy activists to come together and advance the ideas of freedom and security. He will fund and empower various NGOs dealing with issues from sexual violence to small business development, with an emphasis on women’s issues and promoting women’s leadership.
At the risk of stating the obvious, foreign policy is complicated, and it is impossible to make an objective statement about what is good foreign policy and what is not. But we must understand that the difference between Joe Biden and his opponent is not simply one of policy disagreement, or even one of competency vs. incompetency. The difference is that Donald Trump simply does not care about the consequences of his actions, and for the Commander-in-Chief, these consequences are human lives all around the world. And up until November 3rd we must volunteer, donate, organize, and vote for the sake of the children suffering in Yemen, the journalists and activists silenced in Russia, and the people all around the world who will lose their lives and livelihoods to the increasing natural disasters of climate change. They do not have the option of waiting for a candidate who is more progressive or more exciting, and it is selfish to think that we do.
Note: The mission of the GW College Democrats Blog is to highlight, empower, and facilitate the political expression of GWCD members. As such, the views expressed in this article are based on the opinions of its author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the whole of GW College Democrats, its executive board, or its deputy director board.