Russian President Vladimir Putin remained the last leader of a major country not to congratulate candidate Joe Biden on winning the US presidential election. There was also a long pause with congratulations in China. This may be related to concerns about the geopolitical implications of Biden's election, explained John R. Denis, professor at the US Army War College, in his column for US Newsweek.
The author notes that under Donald Trump, the US strategy was reoriented towards great-power rivalry. With the arrival of Biden, the course will be taken towards unity with the allies, and not towards weakening or destroying them, and Moscow and Beijing know this. “The trajectory of the confrontation between the world powers can change dramatically when Washington has allies in the fight against Russia and China, who are trying to undermine the liberal international order,” the professor wrote.
Trump's foreign policy has been controversial at times, he said. For example, the United States National Security Strategy, signed in 2017, was poorly implemented in practice. Denis points out that the US presidential administration has developed an “ambiguous and inconsistent” relationship with Moscow. The US authorities took a similar approach towards NATO and European allies. Sometimes Washington called the Alliance “an invaluable advantage”, the next time it threatened to withdraw from it.
In terms of China, Trump occasionally praised the leader of the PRC and at the same time gave the country a stronger rebuff than previous administrations, including by imposing duties. There was also a strange approach to the allied South Korea. Instead of improving relations to protect common interests in the region, the United States threatened Seoul to impose trade duties and withdraw its troops if the country does not start spending on defense and withdraws from the Asia-Pacific trade agreement.
If the Biden administration continues its course of great-power rivalry, chances are good that the new president will rush to a multilateral approach to Moscow and Beijing. It will be especially important to do this in the economy, to quickly resolve the transatlantic and trans-Pacific trade disputes, the column says.
John R. Denis suggested that, first of all, the new American administration needs to tackle the economic recovery after the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, the West needs to reduce its dependence on Russian resources, strengthen the economies of liberal democracies, and put forward tough requirements for Chinese investments.
It is also important for the United States to focus on protecting Europe within the framework of NATO and to abandon the reduction of the American contingent in Germany. “A more multilateral approach to great-power rivalry may equalize the chances, which Russia and China will not be happy about,” the author emphasized.