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Biden and the World – Part 5: The Challenge of National Reconciliation and Multilateralism

Joe Biden's recent electoral win could enable the United States to develop a more balanced government focused on national unity. For the rest of the world, his presidency could imply a greater willingness to work with allies and friendly governments on regional and global challenges.

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U.S. competition with China will remain a critical part of foreign policy. A Biden administration will likely try to deploy a strategy of engagement and compromise in commercial and environment issues, though security competition will continue. Both countries should strive to introduce a hint of future stability in matters of common interest.

A Biden administration is also expected to improve U.S. relations with Latin America. Biden was an integral part of the U.S.-Cuba dialogue under the Barack Obama administration. His State Department could return to that inclination to be a good neighbor. It could also play a constructive role with its European partners to resolve the humanitarian and democratic crisis in Venezuela.

After four years of pressure and sanctions, the illegitimate Maduro regime maintains state control. Trump’s views on Latin America were intertwined with his policies on China, commerce, and migration. A Biden administration will be concerned about China’s growing importance in the region but will use all available political tools to construct a favorable hemispheric agenda on political corruption, human rights, and the environment to ensure a more prosperous region.

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Biden has also clearly expressed his desire to strengthen the multilateral system. Yet structural and domestic constraints could mean that security policy changes are minimal. Little is known whether a state-of-the-art military is a core element of Biden’s strategy.

Changes in U.S. commercial and environmental policies are not going to unfold quickly. The previous status quo was upended, enabling a future administration to negotiate a better deal with China and other global trade and finance partners.

How will Biden implement a liberal leadership within a framework of global competitiveness? His main challenges include a growing concern about autocratic regimes, the capacity to gain legitimacy over weak countries, and energy competition under environmental constraints.   

Biden faces difficult decisions on the pandemic, economic recovery, and the poisoned political environment. The uncertainty of the transition could hobble his administration.

José Octavio Bordón

Vice President, Argentine Council for International Relations (Argentina) 

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