A Biden Administration may have to move towards the type of international policies that the United States engaged in during the Cold War.
Russia and China have engaged in actions to expand their turf and interfere in U.S. domestic affairs. A report was released on August 18, 2020, by the United States Senate confirming a link between the Russian Government and election interference for President Trump.
Russia took over Ukraine’s Crimean region in 2014. Alexander Lushanko has asked Putin to step in Belarus to preserve his regime after a seemingly fraudulent election and cries for democracy in the street.
China has cracked down on Hong Kong and threatens Taiwan. China has engaged in stealing U.S. intellectual property.
While all of this is happening, the president has praised the leaders of Russia and China.
The current U.S. administration has shattered conventional diplomatic norms by lashing out at traditional allies.
France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, and even Denmark have felt the president’s wrath involving issues such as refugee resettlement, trade agreements, and NATO leadership.
The Trump administration’s counter intuitive approach to international relations has encouraged Russia and Chinese military belligerence and political mischief.
The next administration will have to regain the confidence of our allies and lead a coordinated effort to counter the belligerence of our adversaries.
International relations in a Biden administration may be a return to the Cold War policies that followed World War Two.
The Cold War was a period between 1947 and 1991 where there was heightened tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and its eastern block allies. This “Cold War” ended in 1991when the Soviet Union was dissolved. This period of time was called the “Cold War” because both sides were mostly able to avoid an active or “Hot War” that involved placing troops in harm’s way.
So what are the guiding principles in conducting a cold war?
Hans Morgenthau was a political scientist and historian of international politics during the Cold War. Morgenthau taught that the goal of international politics is not about ideology, but rather power exercised in the national interest. He believed in using diplomacy and compromise to achieve a balance of power in international relations.
Morgenthau set out six principles to guide the U.S. in a cold war:
- 1. Politics is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature.
- 2. Statesmen conduct themselves in terms of interest defined as power.
- 3. Interest determines political conduct within the political and cultural context which foreign policy is formulated.
- 4. Prudence is the supreme virtue in international politics.
- 5. Nations are entities that pursue their interests as defined by power and should not be judged by universal moral principles.
- 6. Political realism rejects the legalistic-moralistic approach to international politics.
A Biden administration should seek an alliance with other states that face similar dangers from authoritarian states, in order to shift the balance of power more in the alliance favor.
The United States could:
- Rebuild confidence with and strengthen NATO countries around Russia.
- Build stronger alliances with South China Sea nations Japan, Taiwan, Guam, and the Philippines.
- Make friendly overtures to Cuba.
- In 2016, speaking in Havana, President Obama said it was time for the two countries to look forward “as friends and as neighbors and as family, together”. Obama apparently hit an authoritarian nerve. In response, Fidel Castro said Cuba did not need any gifts from the “empire”.
- Consider statehood for Puerto Rico.
- In the mid-1970s President Ford said, “The common bonds of friendship, tradition, dignity and individual freedom have joined the people of the United States and the people of Puerto Rico…It is now time to make these bonds permanent through statehood . . .”
- In 2018 Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló wrote to President Trump, asking to abolish America’s “territorial-colonialism” of Puerto Rico for once in for all. He urged Trump to allow Puerto Rico to become the 51st US state.
Diplomacy, compromise, and even espionage and propaganda are all far preferable to a military confrontation or total capitulation. A “Cold War” is preferable to a “Hot War.”
Thanks and a tip of the hat to DonkeyHotey for the image. See more of DonkeyHotey’s art at https://www.flickr.com/photos/47422005@N04/.