The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Biden's "unexpected powers of resistance" against the blob

David Bromwich, writing in the London Review of Books on Biden’s foreign policy nerve:

On the face of things, Biden has surrounded himself with the conventional advisers of the Clinton-Obama circle – Jake Sullivan, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Thomas Donilon, Ash Carter, Michèle Flournoy. It is hard to imagine any of them straying far from the Cold War groove of shepherding Nato against Russia and finding a field for occasional military exercise in a humanitarian war. Yet Biden in the past has shown unexpected powers of resistance: he sided with Douglas Lute and General Cartwright, against Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, in telling Obama in 2009 to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan immediately. Again, in the case of Libya, Biden made the right arguments (though again Obama declined to follow them) in opposing the overthrow of Gaddafi. It will take the same nerve, under greater pressure, to repel the temptation of using foreign adventures as a way of marking a contrast with the deal-making gestural nationalism of Trump. The US recently announced plans to deploy the Coast Guard in the South China Sea – a long way off to interpret as the West Coast of America. The next president will be advised to take many further steps on similar lines, and all the advice will be bad. Foreign policy has been a century-long distraction from America’s confrontation with itself.

AsidesThe Editorsbiden