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?
M.A. Wunsch says
“…how can the Left advance an alternative progressive foreign policy agenda?”
Well, they can’t. At least not now.
Biden must fill his Cabinet with centrists, because he doesn’t know whether the Senate is going to be Democratic or Republican.
The November elections resulted in 13 House seats flipping Republican, and some could argue that this was a reaction against progressive Democrats.
Stocking a Biden administration with Progressives would give Republicans a club to beat moderate Democrats with and that’s the last thing Biden needs when he tries to revive an ailing economy and heal a divided nation.
Richard Silverstein says
Not only can the Left advance a progressive foreign policy agenda it is and it will. Biden only needs 2 GOP votes to get his cabinet officials approved. More than 2 GOP senators have said they will approve his cabinet choices. So I doubt he has much to worry about. Not to mention that in theory he doesn’t need the Senate to approve them. He can just learn a lesson from Trump and make recess or interim appointments and bypass the Senate.
You mean you and centrist Democrats could argue this. But it would be wrong. All the progressive candidates who ran won. And all the centrist Democrats who accepted help from AOC in their races won. There is massive majority support in America for every major plank in the progressive agenda. Democrats who lost ran against the progressive agenda. That’s in part why they lost.
When Bernie first ran as a democratic socialist people like you predicted he would evaporate as a candidate. You can’t run as a true progressive in America and win. Guess what. He went from being an obscure Vermont radical to running in two presidential primaries winning tens of millions of votes along the way. So much for your predictions of disaster.
“Heal a divided nation?” You mean by persuading far-right Republicans that he’s a good guy and they can trust him? Make friends with them? You’re daft. Not only can’t Biden heal the rift with the GOP far right, he may not be able to heal a rift with progressive Democrats unless he plays his cards right. Biden won with support from the Left. IF he loses that support then he is doomed.
Remember, no more comments in this thread. And only a single comment in each future thread.
Suggested topic of discussion: Biden’s righting the wrongs of Obama’s disastrous about-face regarding the Arab Spring. Remember Bashar’s redline, and his accommodative reaction to Sisi’s coup, etc?
Of a leading nation, approach to adversaries should be of engagement, dialogue and containment. The flawed reign of bullying and harsh economic sanctions should be abandoned. With 5% of the global population, US diplomacy should be lifted to a higher level and based on multilateralism … following through with key allies on each continent. The UN Security Council needs urgent reform.
nessim dayan says
so many corpses to autopsy, not a single bright idea to cut short greed and ambition
those are the drivers of all middle east dictators and wannabes dictators (read bibi)
how to put the square peg in the sunni vs shia thousand year old fight to the death, obviously not directly only via proxies (yemen/syria/lebanon/israel) –
to reenter the iran deal is moot, iran has more fissile than ever and it may not want to let go as leverage
to refrain the young saudi murderer , nothing in biden quiver is rich enough, bds knows washington inside/out and he’ll play the republican card to repel. he’s looking at opec’s death in short and has no time for allowances – as far as bds yemen can die slow or fast is of short mean, perhaps under the table allowance for israel as kippat barzel and no further, do you see haredis visiting mecca if he signs. not gonna happen
syria – increase presence to piss putin’s ambitions – maybe , increase fleet
israel – aipac’s got washington in backpocket there is almost nothing he can offer the palestinians, bibi has choked both jerusalem and the territories. bds = antisemitism , the worst insult ever its no less than bringing to full acceptance the N word. before he can give to abbas he’s gotta take back from bibi, what exactly? force out the reliance on china that katz helped bring about before destroying finances
afghanistan = sad capitulation to taliban = so many russian and western lives to no result. taliban wants what taliban wants. no peace agreement will mean piss in the pot because rotten pakistan is funding it and washington is pumping precious$ for what to protect against modi.
Best result is to rebuilt the pacific circle around china pact and military and support taipei strongly and choke slowly some of the murderous leaderships (vieetnam, cambodia, phil)