Joseph Biden’s Foreign Policy: Revision or Succession?
Valdai Club Conference Hall (42, Bolshaya Tatarskaya, Moscow)
List of speakers

On January 21, the Valdai Club held a discussion, titled “President Biden’s Foreign Policy: What Should the World Expect?” The experts talked about how the foreign policy approach of Joseph Biden correlates with that of his predecessor and how the new administration might behave towards Russia.

“The four years that have passed can be called an epoch,” said Valery Garbuzov, Director of the Institute for US and Canada Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. "No American president has turned things upside down in the United States the way Trump did." The main question, in his opinion, is whether the next president will carry out a total revision of his legacy and, if so, what will he do with the problems that Trump's policies have created.

William Pomeranz, Deputy Director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute in Washington, DC, stressed that Biden, unlike a number of his predecessors, has vast experience in international politics. However, most likely, for his administration, foreign policy will not be in priority. In relations between Russia and the United States, one should not expect any surprises or changes: the sanctions will remain, there will be no growth in trade either, the expert believes.

Biden is a long-term institutionalist and multilateralist, that is, he is ready to rely on allies wherever possible and conduct a dialogue with them, said Fyodor Voitolovsky, Director of the National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS). But at the same time, the new administration will most likely also insist that US allies increase their military spending. In addition, Biden is likely to continue to implement the Trump policy of cutting off China from technology and innovations that can be used to pursue a technological breakthrough - and to demand the same from European NATO members. The Biden administration is also unlikely to abandon the course of containing Russia, although it will be interested in agreements on arms control.

According to William C. Wohlforth, Daniel Webster Professor of the Department of Government at Dartmouth College, under Biden Washington will continue to move away from unrealistic foreign policy expectations, demonstrating growing restraint. It should not be forgotten that Biden himself has always been prone to advocate cautious foreign policy and opposed military intervention. Regarding Russia, it will apparently not play a key role for him.

Andrey Tsygankov, Professor of International Relations at the University of California, San Francisco, noted that Biden's policies will be shaped between two poles - Obama's liberal globalism and Trump's nationalism. Thus, Biden's policy will not be a policy of "anti-trumpism", no matter how many would like it. The ideas of national development and orientation towards national interests, which Trump advocated, are likely to be further developed under the new administration. There will be a continuity in policies towards China and Russia.