America’s Normalcy Delusion
After four years of President Donald Trump’s bald-faced lies, juvenile bullying, gratuitous cruelty, and perilous volatility, many voters were attracted by President-elect Joe Biden's promise to restore what has been lost. But when it comes to foreign policy, in particular, there can be no return to the status quo ante.
MEXICO CITY – US President-elect Joe Biden made a “return to normalcy” one of his election campaign’s leitmotifs. After four years of President Donald Trump’s bald-faced lies, juvenile bullying, gratuitous cruelty, and perilous volatility, it was certainly an appealing promise. But, as Biden himself has admitted, the world is not what it was in January 2017, when Barack Obama’s administration – in which Biden served as vice president – left office. So, to what exactly is he planning to return?
To be sure, Biden can certainly restore a sense of decorum and decency to the US presidency. But on concrete policy issues – especially foreign-policy issues – the status quo ante will be far more difficult, if not impossible, to revive.
Biden has pledged to recommit to some of the Obama-era international agreements that Trump abandoned, beginning with the Paris climate agreement and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, better known as the Iran nuclear deal). Moreover, he intends to extend the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, rejoin the World Health Organization, and re-engage with Cuba. He may also join the successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the mega-regional trade deal which Obama negotiated and Trump rejected.