AMAC Exclusive – By Herald Boas
Global geopolitical regions can be divided into five main areas — North America and the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific, South and Central America, and Africa. Nine months into the Biden administration, the new president faces dangers and challenges of his own making in all five.
Close to home, the most critical problem is the U.S./Mexican border crisis, with a massive influx of would-be and undocumented immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean — an influx brought on by the Biden campaign promise of open borders. Undocumented, many of them unaccompanied children, most of them unvaccinated, and some of them already ill, they have created chaos at the border and many are simply entering the U.S. unhindered. Those who cross the border are now filling up border cities and towns as mostly unwelcome economic and public health burdens. The Biden administration and establishment media until recently have tried to downplay or even ignore the crisis, but the political and public outcry has grown too loud to try to pretend there is no crisis.
Europe and the Middle East have long been critical hotspots, but President Biden has exacerbated many problems by trying to make a deal with a hostile Iran, vexing a close American ally in France, and failing to block a Russian North Sea pipeline to Germany. The recent German elections have replaced long-time Angela Merkel’s center-right government with a center-left one, but Germany’s post-W.W.II recovery and policies will likely remain on the same course. Brexit has upended the fragile European Union (EU), and initial EU confidence in President Biden has been shattered by the way he handled the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan and negotiated the Australian-U.K.-U.S. (AUKUS) security pact without consulting continental allies. Although the Cold War with the now-defunct Soviet Union ended long ago, Putin-led aggressive Russia, still a nuclear power, nonetheless acts as a confrontational force in Europe and the Middle East. Mr. Biden also faces the challenge, as did his predecessors, of persuading European NATO allies to provide for more of their own defense capability.
President Donald Trump’s negotiation of the Abraham Accords and cancellation of the Iran Nuclear Deal had created some positive momentum in the long-time Middle East impasse, but the efforts of President Biden and John Kerry to revive the pact have been met with recalcitrant Iranian demands. A new Israeli government has also reached out to Mr. Biden, but the long-time U.S. ally has not yet bonded with the new American government as it did with the previous one.
Nothing has reversed public opinion at home and abroad about President Biden more than the way Biden managed the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan. Like the AUKUS pact, the withdrawal from Afghanistan itself was supported at home, but the chaotic and counterproductive manner in which it was accomplished reinforced criticism of the president’s foreign policy skills.
Confronting an aggressive China, the U.S. and its principal Pacific allies (Australia, South Korea and Japan) face challenges in the South China Sea, Taiwan, North Korea and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. President Biden must also manage changing relationships with Pakistan and India.
South and Central America have long been politically unstable – a product of local conditions and a legacy of long-time European colonization and its political institutions. Any U.S. president, to be fair, faces difficult challenges from this region, especially from emigration via land routes. China, sensing an opportunity, has become involved with cash-poor and technologically limited South American and African governments while U.S. attention was focused elsewhere.
After disastrous U.S. experiences in central and southern Africa, American interest in that part of the world outside of private philanthropic efforts has diminished. But as the South African republic faces serious internal problems, central African nations remain unstable, China continues its malign activity in the region, and persistent natural disasters and incipient epidemics threaten the world’s second most populated continent, this part of the world cannot be ignored.
In the 2020 presidential campaign, one of Joe Biden’s selling points for himself was his long-time foreign policy experience. In the early months of his presidency, that promise is not so far being fulfilled.