After a series of missteps on the international stage, President Biden might have hoped that by addressing the United Nations General Assembly he could rekindle the “America is Back” enthusiasm that has energized the United Nations. international community upon his election. Long in rhetoric and short in action, his speech did not keep its promises. The so-called return to American leadership that Biden has touted is more like an American retreat – and the world knows it.
In its United Nations General Assembly speech, President Biden called the US withdrawal from Afghanistan the end of a period of “relentless war” and transition to “relentless diplomacy.” This of course assumes that allies and partners always view the United States as an ally and a reliable partner.
The chaotic withdrawal of the president from Afghanistan in August, which left thousands of U.S. citizens and partners stranded under the Taliban, prompted many allies to question the value of American friendship. Allies who shared political risks, resources and sacrificed their citizens have found themselves wondering what was it for.
Then, days before Biden’s New York speech, the United States announced an untimely nuclear submarine deal between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, which undermine a French agreement with Australia for a fleet of attack submarines of 90 billion dollars. This led the French to recall their ambassador to the United States for the first time in history, calling the deal a “stab in the back”.
Moreover, Biden’s indiscriminate pursuit of multilateralism tests his loyalty to his friends under attack from UN institutions, namely Israel. For example, the administration announcement that next year the United States will run for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, which has been widely criticized for anti-Semitism, and that the State Department recognize as “a flawed body, in need of reform of its program, membership and purpose, including its disproportionate focus on Israel.” Yet no plan to transform the organization into a credible organization has been unveiled.
Biden too reiterated The United States’ commitment to Israel’s security in yesterday’s speech. However, this rhetoric has been overshadowed by his acknowledgement that his administration “works with the P5 + 1 to diplomatically engage Iran and seek to return to the JCPOA”. Given the existential threat that a nuclear Iran poses to Israel, as well as Tehran’s blatant non-compliance with international legal obligations, including by continuing to block inspectors ability to monitor its nuclear program in real time, it is no surprise that Israeli leaders doesn’t have much confidence in a nuclear deal.
To add other Israeli concerns about US loyalty, earlier this week the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi hosts Thursday’s vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Lawmakers brace for spending bill, Sunday infrastructure votes show – All eyes on spending votes MORE (D-Wash.), Forced Democrats in the House of Representatives to undress funding Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system from a must-have temporary spending bill. The Iron Dome provides crucial defense for Israeli citizens and is increasingly essential for Israel as the conflict with Iranian proxies escalates.
Going forward, the Biden administration needs to carefully consider what “relentless diplomacy” looks like in practice. A good place to start is to bring all Americans home from Afghanistan and evacuate partners who have served the United States. In addition, the president should refuse to recognize the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan or provide them with financial assistance. Biden is also expected to work quickly to mend the damaged relationship with France before new resentments spread to other aspects of the relationship, including NATO.
If Biden is going to join and fund international bodies, he should use the membership and funding of the United States as leverage to ensure that reforms are made. This includes organizations like the World Health Organization, the United Nations Refugee Agency as well as the Human Rights Council. Joining these organizations without any reform plans guarantees the status quo.
On Israel’s defense, the administration should abandon its attempts to negotiate with Iran and shift to a deterrence-based approach that strengthens the security of Israel and other regional partners. The administration’s lack of transparency and its refusal to act in good faith in informing Congress of its attempts to negotiate a deal raises the question of whether Biden will follow the applicable law (i.e. the law of 2015 on the review of the Iran nuclear deal) and will submit an agreement to Congress is expected to be negotiated. Congress also has a responsibility to exercise rigorous oversight of the administration’s actions and use its authority to call for briefings and hearings that will shed light on Iran’s nuclear compliance as well as negotiation plans. Of the president.
Additionally, Biden is expected to send a strong message to the Progressive Caucus that no attempt to halt Iron Dome funding will be tolerated. Shifting funding from Iron Dome to a stand-alone bill sets a dangerous precedent and could be procedurally replicated in the years to come. During his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last month, Biden underline the full support of his administration for the replenishment of Iron Dome. The president must keep his promise.
It doesn’t take decades of practicing international politics to realize that actions prove the courage of a leader. Despite all the talk about President Biden’s “relentless diplomacy”, he has a funny way of showing America’s allies and partners that he supports them.
Morgan Lorraine Viña is Vice President of Government Affairs at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) and is the former Chief of Staff to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki R. Haley.