By Mohammad Mazhari

Biden is unlikely to end military involvements, professor says

November 18, 2020 - 11:42

TEHRAN – Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University says that President-elect Joe Biden “is not the right person” to end the endless American wars as liberals think America has a global mandate to intervene and “spread its gospel of truth”.

 “I don't think Biden is likely to end America's military involvement,” Mehran Kamrava tells the Tehran Times, describing Biden and his team as "liberal interventionist". 
The following is the text of the interview: 

Q: Some media outlets talk about Biden's readiness to roll back the Trump policies with a blitz of executive actions. Is it a realistic view?

A: Usually, American presidents are judged by their accomplishments in the first one hundred days in which they all have executive and legislative agendas. There won't be a blitz as such, but there would be a whole host of initiatives coming from the Biden administration in its first one hundred days. These include measures, design to contain the spread of the corona pandemic, measures to repair relations with European Union, repair trade relation with China and also other measures including probably starting to discuss options with Iran and this may not necessarily be direct with Iran and first could be through the European Union or the P5, but that would be an option. 

So, I don't think there would necessarily be a blitz of actions, but in the first one hundred days, we can expect measures related to the coronavirus pandemic, related to the economy, related to improving relations with the EU and entering some of the multilateral agreements that Trump administration has withdrawn from, including the Iran nuclear agreement and Paris Climate Accord, etc.  

Q: What will be the consequences of the claims of voter fraud on the future of American democracy?

A: Not much. American elections have always featured a certain amount of irregularities like all other elections. These irregularities become consequential when elections are close. For example, in 2000, there were irregularities and disputes as we see in 2020. Trump is not taken seriously even by the Republican establishment itself, and as a result, the accusation of fraud is dismissed.

 Q: Is Trump an aberration in America's history, or does he have a social base in the country?

A: Trump, the person, is an aberration. There are lots of people like Trump. There are individuals like that in Congress, in the House of Representatives, specifically in the Senate. But no one like that has become the president since the middle of the 20th century.
However, Trump doesn't have a significant social base; this is mid-America, people in the Midwest, people who are usually in the lower economic bracket, and people who are not college-educated. These are the people who fall in the lower middle classes. Usually, they are white, and their social and economic standing has declined and has slipped in the last decade. They are the ones who are likely to support Trump's message of American nationalism. Trump is an American nationalist, and the message of "America First" resonates with a significant chant of the population.

Q: Given the social gap which the U.S is facing, how can the next president bridge these divides?

A: Biden has already started saying that he is not the president of Democrats or Republicans; he is the president of all Americans. What the next president needs to do is to speak exactly to demography that I just described white underprivileged lower-middle-class Americans in mid-America in Midwest in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee. Arkansas is not necessarily in states on the edges of the United States but in the states in the middle of the United States. Those are the people who have been subject to the greatest pressures economically. They are the ones who feel socially disadvantaged, and Trump spoke to them directly and directly was a populist, and his message resonated with them, and that is the crowd that Biden and the new administration need to connect with.

It is not Nancy Pelosi. It is not the New York elite. It is not the California elite but the average person in Oklahoma, in Kentucky, in Arkansas, in Middle America that the next president needs to connect with.

Trump is not taken seriously even by the Republican establishment itself, and as a result, the accusation of fraud is dismissed.” 

Q: Do you believe that Biden can end the endless American wars? 

A: No, I don't believe Biden is the right person for that; these liberals think America has a mandate globally to intervene and spread its gospel of truth and gospel of good. So, these are liberal interventionists, and I don't think Biden is likely to end America's military involvement. 

Q: With the Biden win, what will happen to relations between the U.S. and Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, which received overt support from the Trump administration?

A: Biden has been a greater supporter of multilateralism compared to Trump's preference for bilateralism. Trump has paid far greater attention to bilateral relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia; the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates; the U.S., and Egypt at the expense of a bigger picture of the Middle East (West Asia), for example, the U.S. and the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council. So, this had a number of consequences for the U.S. I think the change will not necessarily be in the substance of the U.S. relations with these countries, but the style of U.S. relations may change. 

We might see a greater degree of tension in countries like Kuwait, especially Qatar, to some of the other parts of the Middle East (West Asia), but we are not going to see a fundamental shift in U.S.-Israeli relations. We are likely to see even countries like Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman normalize ties with Israel under the Biden administration, probably even Saudi Arabia, and probably Biden will be more likely to engage with Iran, but whether Iran is ready to engage with the Biden administration is a different issue. 

Q: Do you predict comprehensive talks between regional players in West Asia, for example between Iran and certain Arab states?

A: Iran has been advocating discussions with various Arab parties, especially Saudi Arabia, but the Saudis have not necessarily been keen on the dialog, and probably with encouragement by the Biden administration, they might be more willing to have that discussion. 


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