Biden’s first trip to the Middle East looks set to highlight the consistent inconsistency of his administration’s foreign policy
In the midst of record US gas prices, President Joe Biden’s administration announced that they will travel to Saudi Arabia for their first Middle East trip. Biden’s decision to visit the kingdom, which is perennially accused of human rights violations, shows the inherent contradictions that drive the administration’s foreign policy.
Biden’s foreign policy has two fundamental pillars, at least in terms of messaging. The first is that US foreign policy should put human rights at the center while the other is that US diplomatic relations should help average Americans, claiming to meld foreign and domestic policies. These two principles have been extremely difficult to apply, and could even be called inconsistent.
The trip to Saudi Arabia aims to reduce average Americans’ prices at the pump. It is evident. But it’s hard to square this circle when Biden had previously said he would not speak with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s foremost power player – but now says he will meet with him under these circumstances, though, he claims, not one-on-one.
According to credible allegations, the prince goes under the name MBS and was involved in Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal assassination. Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi-born US citizen who was killed in Istanbul. MBS is also thought to have been the chief orchestrator in the Saudi-led war of aggression against Yemen. It has witnessed some of most brutal and unrestrained bombing campaign ever documented.
It’s hard to see how Biden can claim to be putting human rights at the center of his agenda while meeting with the likes of MBS. This after his administration just wrapped up the latest Summit of the Americas, which excluded the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela based on human rights concerns, while also including such countries as Colombia and Brazil – bastions of human rights, no doubt.
Speaking of Venezuela, while the US considers it a violator of human rights and democratic norms, and also doesn’t even recognize Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate president, Washington has started to ease sanctions on Venezuela and even heldHigh-level talks with Caracas’ government. Washington, for example, is said to be allowing Venezuela to send oil to Europe in order to fill the void left by Russia’s exclusion.
The US foreign policy is inconsistent. It tries to keep to certain principles while ignoring reality. The US ideals that are proclaimed to be in touch with geopolitical realities have a tendency to fall short of reality. This would undoubtedly hurt the average American if implemented as logically as possible.
At the same time, however, it’s debatable to what extent helping average Americans is even one of the main priorities of Biden’s foreign policy. For example, in the Middle East, Biden’s administration has sacrificed progress on implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran nuclear agreement to pursue its latest Middle East peace plan.
However, the plan’s details show that it is not peaceful. Congress passed bipartisan legislation on June 9 that would allow the Pentagon to coordinate air defenses against Iran with Israel and other Arab countries. It will also see tons of weapons funneled into the region – in spite of the fact that a March report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute showed weapons imports beginning to level off.
It is difficult to understand how throwing a wrench in an effort to stop nuclear proliferation, and instead opting to funnel weapons to the region, or to whip up an antiIran military alliance helps the American people. It seems that it is only beneficial for military contractors who inherently benefit from the destabilization of catastrophe.
Biden’s foreign policy is consistently inconsistent. Although the Obama administration states that it follows certain standards and principles like human rights, it abandons these policies when political fallout is too severe. It’s clear this is the case, as Biden’s Democratic Party faces a stiff challenge from Republicans in this year’s midterm elections – all while the US economy is facing record inflation and a looming recession.
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