In the wake of last week’s Capitol Hill riot, many want President-elect Joe Biden to erase all remnants of President Trump and his policies. That would be “a serious mistake.”
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington, D.C. think tank I was previously affiliated with, issued a new report evaluating Trump’s national security and foreign policies. The report, titled From Trump to Biden: The Way Forward for U.S. National Security, analyzes Trump’s foreign policies, providing criticism of some and finding others “worthy of being maintained or built upon by the Biden administration.”
Many of these Trump policies worth keeping and expanding involve China’s global influence.
Richard Goldberg, a Senior Advisor at FDD, expanded on the report. He believes the new Biden administration should strive to develop a global comprehensive strategy to contain Beijing’s reach.
In an interview with Fox News, Goldberg notes that last week’s violence at the Capitol “will forever tarnish” Trump’s place in U.S. history and that “On top of all the other outrages, large and small, associated with his tenure, there will no doubt be a powerful instinct among the incoming Biden administration to recoil from everything associated with the 45th president, including the entirety of his foreign policy.”
But that “would be a serious mistake.” This is especially true in the arena of containing China at the U.N. and other international organizations where China has been steadily deepening its influence.
In recent years China has racked up a series of victories at various U.N. bodies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and at other U.N. specialized agencies. This effort to control or influence global institutions hasn’t ended.
Goldberg said that “China’s campaign to exploit international organizations won’t be taking a break just because America is in a presidential transition,” adding, “this is one area where there is overwhelming bipartisan support, a clear U.S. national security interest and the opportunity for a Biden administration to work multilaterally with U.S. allies to counter China’s malign influence.”
The Trump Team, notes Goldberg, was less effective doing this in its first year. It suffered a major setback in 2017 when it failed to counter Beijing’s candidate for the World Health Candidate (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus — giving China a strong sway over that critical organization.
After the WHO’s mishandling of the initial Covid-19 outbreak in 2019 and 2020, and apparent collusion with Beijing, Trump withdrew from the organization last year.
Whether that was strategically the best play, remains to be seen.
But since then, added Goldberg, the Trump administration learned from that WHO failure and strongly rebounded.
As Fox reported:
It moved a career diplomat from the State Department to the Bureau of International Organization Affairs to spearhead efforts to counter China’s malign influences at the U.N. in 2020.
The United States succeeded in successfully campaigning to defeat China’s candidate to lead the World Intellectual Property Organization [WTO] last March and succeeded in getting the U.S.-backed candidate elected to run the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] in late 2019.
Biden should build on these Trump successes.
A former senior U.S. government official echoed the report’s recommendation when they told Fox that he would advise the Biden team to build a coalition at the U.N. concerned about China’s authoritarianism and growing global reach to counter China’s ambitions that appear to include hijacking the U.N. brand itself.
The FDD report stated that:
U.S. policy should be built upon a bipartisan consensus that Beijing’s repressive regime is proliferating authoritarianism abroad, intends to undermine U.S. leadership, and seeks to shape international norms, standards, supply chains, and institutions to serve its interests. The United States must not lose sight of today’s great power competition. Beijing is not a responsible stakeholder. Washington must formulate a competitive strategy tailored to countering Beijing’s approach.
Biden’s propensity toward aggressive ‘Multilateralism’ might find an excellent venue here in forging that bipartisan consensus on containing China and expanding the consensus globally.