Biden is sure to feel strong partisan pressure to reject most, if not all, of Trump’s foreign policy. That would be a mistake. Sweeping away the achievements and strategies of the past four years would endanger American safety and interests.
I have no illusions that Biden would simply pick up where Trump leaves off. He won’t. I’m confident I will disagree with many Biden policies. For instance, his intention to rejoin the Paris climate accord is foolish, elevating platitudes over real economic and environmental progress and putting the United States at the mercy of other nations, such as China, that seek to strengthen themselves at American expense. But in the spirit of helping our country, I urge Biden to prioritize continuity and continued progress in three critical areas.
First: Biden should keep key aspects of Trump’s China policy.
Washington’s posture toward Beijing shifted in much-needed ways in the past four years. Trump overturned decades-old bipartisan consensus that economic cooperation with China would push the Chinese Communist Party in a more peaceful direction. A new bipartisan consensus is rising against that flawed thinking.
Communist China is the most serious global threat the United States faces. It is a strategic competitor with hostile intentions of overtaking us economically and militarily. This truth explains why Trump pursued a military buildup, punished Chinese companies for stealing U.S. trade secrets, sanctioned Chinese leaders and firms for their horrific human rights abuses, and strengthened coordination with U.S. allies and partners to hold China accountable. Biden would endanger U.S. interests if he reversed course.
China feeds on American openness like a parasite, using it to strengthen itself. The right course is to further limit Chinese access to our companies, telecommunications and universities, as the United States did with the Soviet Union, while building additional military, economic and diplomatic strength.
Biden will also face a critical test in Taiwan. Just as China has crushed freedom in Hong Kong, Beijing seeks to destroy the freedom of 24 million Taiwanese people. It is sure to test those waters in the next four years. If Biden fails to push back, there will be no stopping Chinese communist aggression in Asia and beyond.
Second: Biden should not drop Trump’s pressure on Latin American dictatorships.
In keeping with the finest traditions of American values, Trump clearly and powerfully sided with the people of Venezuela and Cuba over their oppressors. He used unprecedented sanctions and forged a regional alliance against the criminal Maduro regime in Venezuela. And he recognized that providing economic relief to the Cuban regime increased its power at the expense of the long-suffering Cuban people. A Biden reversal in either country would amount to an embrace of socialism and give a pass to the most monstrous regimes in our hemisphere.
Biden’s support for the victims of Cuban communism and Venezuelan socialism would irritate some of his party’s leftist fringe, but their views did not make for successful policy under the Obama administration. It would be no different now. In Latin America, as elsewhere, Biden would do well to stand up to U.S. enemies and stand for U.S. values.
Third: Biden should encourage the remarkable progress of Arab-Israeli peace.
The blooming friendships between Israel and numerous Arab countries have been among the most beautiful developments of the past four years. The Obama administration said such a peace would never happen. But it did — because of U.S. leadership. Trump refused to accept the tired thinking that the Palestinian cause was the key to broader regional peace. And he put strong pressure on Iran’s murderous regime, which hates the Arab world nearly as much as it hates Israel and our country. Trump’s actions aligned American, Israeli and Arab policy, with peace the result.
How can Biden foster a deeper peace? Not by caving to Iran or turning on Israel, both of which would fray the nascent Arab-Israeli bonds that still need strengthening. The better path is to continue to isolate Iran and encourage harmony between Israel and the Arab states, which now clearly see their common interests. A peaceful Middle East depends on it and is essential to U.S. security.
Staying the course on China, Latin America and the Middle East is the right path. Biden can expand on our success and promote America’s interests in each. It would be disastrous if he missed the opportunity because of a partisan desire to reverse the course of his predecessor.