I’m organizing an online panel hosted by KBOO community radio in Portland (OR), Biden: Toward a Progressive Middle East Policy. It will take place on Friday, November 27th at 11AM Pacific/2PM Eastern. For event details and registration click here. You must register in order to join the video stream.
After four miserable years of a Trump foreign policy that saw our national standing plummet, and whatever values underpinnned that policy turned to ash, Pres.-elect Biden promises change. Or to be more exact and use the favored term, continuity. Continuity doesn’t mean real change. It means reform, nibbling around the edges rather than plumbing the depths of problems and finding solutions. Perhaps in some areas, Biden may strike out in new and innovative ways. But despite (misguided) optimism expressed by some, major change isn’t likely in the region.
Even in the one area in which Biden can make a real difference, Iran, he promises to roll back policy to status quo ante under Obama. The real heavy-lifting–full reconciliation with Iran, and normalization of relations, is almost impossible to conceive. That being said, virtually anything BIden would do would be an improvement over Trump’s disastrous approach.
The panelists will be:
Omar Rahman: visiting fellow at Brookings Doha. He is writing a book on the Palestinian response to the Oslo Accords. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, the Guardian and Al Jazeera. He was a guest lecturer on Middle East affairs at George Washington University.
Muhammad Sahimi: Professor of chemical engineering at the University of Southern California. A native of Iran, he is a widely quoted expert on Iranian politics and the country’s nuclear program. He was a co-founder of PBS’ Tehran Bureau and his interviews about Iranian affairs have been featured in the New York Times. He has published op-eds in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Progressive.
Some of the many questions we’ll address:
- What does a Biden administration offer for Israel-Palestine?
- How will Biden approach Saudi Arabia, about which he’s been extremely critical? And how will that impact his approach to Iran?
- Given Biden is a centrist focusing on continuity rather than innovation, how can the Left advance an alternative progressive foreign policy agenda? What would it look like? How can it be promoted and achieved?