Hopes And Fears From Joe Biden's Incoming U.S. Administration

The world breathed a sigh of relief when Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the U.S. presidential election in November and put an end to the tumultuous and authoritarian regime of Donald Trump. Joe Biden has promised to wipe out Trump's legacy of hate, racism and division. He will take the oath of office on January 20. From the domestic hardships to foreign policy challenges, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden faces a daunting set of challenges. This article will look at some of the challenges that the incoming U.S. administration faces

Stemming the surging wave of the coronavirus pandemic is one of the biggest domestic challenges faced by Biden’s administration. The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt the most severe blow to U.S. economy since the Great Depression. The U.S. economy shrank at an alarming annual rate of 32.9% during the second quarter of 2020. This was the steepest decline in quarterly records since as far back as 1947. More than 22 million Americans have been laid off amid the pandemic outbreak. The alarming figures accentuate Trump's negligence in the Covid-19 response.

But Biden's economic team is poised to come up to the task, with an ambitious economic recovery plan to rebuild the corona-hit economy. To be frank, there is not a lot of light at the end of the tunnel, at least until the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is not tackled to a large extent. But the world holds its breath to see if Biden’s administration will emerge victorious in containing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and resuscitate the flagging economy.

The audacious onslaught of President Donald Trump on global treaties and institutions also triggered an international crisis. In addition, Trump's arrogance and inconstancy have spawned an enormous gulf between the U.S. and its traditional allies. President-elect Joe Biden is going to have a very tough time to fix the authoritarian tendencies and bridge the gaps created by the rowdy Trump administration.

Despite being the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the outgoing Trump’s administration demonstrated irresponsibility and pulled Washington out of the Paris Climate Accord in 2017. But President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to re-join the Paris Climate Accord on the first day of his presidency, which is truly a laudable decision. This move may well revive the lost spirit among the members of the international pact to combat climate change through coordinated efforts.

Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) came under mounting pressure amid the pandemic outbreak when President Trump absolved the U.S. of its international responsibility and formally decided to pull the country out of the WHO (with half its funding) while accusing the WHO of being "a puppet of China". Fortunately, however, Joe Biden is going to reverse this isolationist move by Trump and re-join the WHO on his first day as president.

In another abrupt move, the Trump administration decided to withdraw the U.S. from Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 which escalated simmering tensions between the U.S. and Iran, sparking fears of wars in the early days of 2020. In order to avert the potentiality of nuclear war in the Middle East, the Biden administration has pledged to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and lift sanctions from Iran's economy if Iran returns to strict compliance and constrains the country's nuclear weapons, missile program and uranium enrichment. But it is going to be a herculean task for Biden as Iran may not adhere to the strict conditions of the United States. But will the Biden presidency choose the path of confrontation and adopt the strategy of "maximum pressure" against Iran, like Trump did, if Iran bolstered its nuclear programs deliberately? Fear and mistrust still linger between both poles. Both opponents must show flexibility and willingness in order to neutralize the possibility of more bloody aggression in the region.

The outgoing Trump administration took a lot of punitive measures against China by launching a trade war, sanctioning Chinese officials and consulates and putting curbs on Chinese tech companies and apps such as Xiaomi and TikTok. Beijing is hopeful that the incoming administration will lift some of the trade tariffs and formally respect its diplomats, consulates and enterprises. But speculations also abound that Biden will view China as a global rival and prioritise the rebuilding of its alliance network to counter China's growing international clout. Biden will not adopt a soft stance on China as it is against the strategic and ideological framework of the country. Thus, the forthcoming administration will likely continue to confront China with its containment strategy.

Under the Biden-Harris presidency, Saudi Arabia will exercise extreme caution in the bombing campaign in Yemen, although it largely availed of financial aids earlier from Trump’s administration to pulverise the already war-torn Yemen. Moreover, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will no longer receive personal support from Biden that he enjoyed from Trump. However, the U.S.-Israel military, economic and diplomatic ties will, no doubt, continue unabated.

Recently, President-elect Joe Biden termed Russia an opponent, showing his extreme hostility to Russia for its alleged meddling in the U.S. election process. Biden has also made claims about paying heed to India’s egregious human rights abuses as Trump turned a blind eye to India's contentious domestic developments. But Pakistan can pin hopes on Biden for the likelihood of deepening cordial ties between the U.S. and Pakistan while Trump's perpetual 'do more' mantra has remained redundant.

The Afghan government and Taliban eagerly await the strategy of the Biden administration on the ongoing peace negotiations. Biden is likely to gradually and responsibly withdraw the US troops in accordance with prevailing situations in Afghanistan in order to avoid a recurrence of power vacuums for terrorists that could plunge the entire region into upheaval. The Afghanistan conundrum is one of the key foreign policy challenges faced by the Biden presidency.

Trump's defeat has generated a glimmer of hope across the world. Multiple global leaderships have "great expectations" from the incoming U.S. administration. Will Biden live up to the promises made with the international community? The world cautiously dares to raise its hopes with the distinctive framework of the Biden-Harris presidency which has the power to alter global dynamics.