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The Foreign Affairs Inbox

What’s on the checklist facing Biden, according to foreign policy writer Richard N. Haass

Photo by @KyleJGlenn on Unsplash.com

“One thing that an incoming president cannot choose,” writes Richard N. Haass, “… is the inbox that awaits him.”

So it is with President-Elect Biden. He has an overflowing inbox, says Haass.

Richard N. Haass

Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, posts an article today in Foreign Affairs laying out the scope of Biden’s foreign policy inbox.

(Haass often explains U.S. foreign relations on MSNBC.)

Summarizing the inbox, according to Haass:

  1. Domestic Inbox. Covid-19 (which Biden addressed today). Unemployment. Families strapped for rent or mortgage funds. Political and societal divisions.
  2. What Trump Got Right. Clamping down on China for trade practices, supplying arms to Ukraine, the updated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and normalizing relations between Israel and several Arab states.
  3. Inherited Actions to Repair. Restoring international alliances at the bedrock of U.S. foreign relations; backfilling policy in wake of Trump withdrawals from international agreements and institutions; cooling pointless cozy relations with authoritarians in China, North Korea, Russia, and Turkey; ending family separations for immigrants; and ending the ban on travelers from many Muslim-majority countries.
  4. Top Priorities. Follow up on vaccine development (with such a promising announcement today from Pfizer); develop quick and inexpensive point-of-care tests for Covid-19; and encourage mask-wearing so that, among other benefits, the U.S. restores its reputation for competence. Rejoin the World Health Organization, stop the withdrawal of troops from Germany, resolve financial disagreements with South Korea over troop support, and revisit an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Negotiate with allies on a new framework for restricting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and consult with South Korea and Japan on best approaches for handling nuclear programs in North Korea.
  5. More. Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord (though I think Haass should have emphasized this more). Rebuild and modernize the Foreign Service. Promote change in Syria and Venezuela. Compete with China’s Belt and Road global infrastructure plan. And more.

It’s a good read. I recommend it.



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Douglass T. Davidoff

Douglass T. Davidoff

Writer, p.r. strategist, marketer. History, politics, religion, dogs. Father, sailor, traveler. New Englander, Tar Heel, Hoosier, New Yorker, and Chicagoan.