Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo
The rule of President Trump closed to an end with political hustle and bustle. Will his foreign policy legacy be inherited, or is it forgotten in history as aberration?
Some controversial foreign policy decisions could be overturned by the Biden administration in the early stage, such as Trump’s withdrawal from WHO. Others could be shelved indefinitely without implementation. For some other policies, there were measures taken by Trump administration during the final months and days and would not be easily annulled by the next administration.
Trump’s proclamation of recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in December 10 in return normalization may not be enthusiastically followed through by the next administration.
There are, however, a wide range of policy areas in which continuity and overlapping interests exist across the parties and administrations.
For example, the removal of Sudan from the States Sponsors of Terrorism list was completed in December 14 and would be handed over to Biden administration since this move has been prepared before the Trump administration, during the days of Obama administration.
Trump administration took over many policies tacitly from the previous Obama administration which President Trump detested publicly.
Obviously, there is continuity between Obama and Biden administrations. The early appointments of officials made Biden administration look like “the 2nd. Obama administration”. Particularly in the field of foreign policy, many high-ranking officials in the Obama administration is being called to Washington D.C. to take higher positions.
Appointment of William Burns, a respected diplomat worked in the Middle East and a deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration, to Biden’s CIA director evokes a hope of a moderate and respectful foreign policy.
The nomination of Wendy Sherman, who was the undersecretary of state for political affairs for four years during Obama administration and was the leading negotiator of the Iran nuclear accord in 2015, to deputy secretary of state in Biden administration clearly shows the intention of going back to the deal from which Trump unilaterally withdrew. The report of the intended nomination of Robert Malley as the US Special Representative for Iran further
former Obama administration’s national security advisor on the Middle East
For the Asian allies of the U.S., the reported nomination of Kurt Campbell to a new post “Indo-Pacific coordinator” at the National Security Council would be reassuring. Campbell was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs during first half of Obama administration and advocated the U.S. “pivot to Asia” in which U.S. abandoned the previous policy of patiently engaging China and turned to the policy of countering the assertive China in the Indo-Pacific region, shifting military and diplomatic resources from the Middle East in which the U.S. forces have been deployed for the past several decades.