Don't bet on Biden reentering Iran deal

Dr. Norman Bailey

Assuming President Biden demonstrates the fortitude to hold off the extremists in his party, he is not a bad prospect, for the US, for the world, and for Israel.

Trump is in Florida, his new state of residence, licking his largely self-inflicted wounds. Joe Biden of Delaware is president of the United States, or perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to the country he now leads as the Disunited States.

His inaugural address was a model of its kind; centered almost entirely on his number one task as president: reuniting America, now torn apart into warring factions to a greater extent than in any period of history since the run-up to the Civil War (1861-1865). He must combine this immediately with confronting the corona crisis, abominably handled until now by all levels of government, while trying to shore up a fragile economic situation.

With regards to the latter, the Biden team has already announced a massive injection of financial stimulus, while Janet Yellen, new Secretary of the Treasury, has stated that the Fed will facilitate this stimulus from the monetary standpoint.

The US has been spending money like a drunken sailor since the G. W. Bush administration (2001-2009), and this new stimulus package will add substantially to the accumulated debt. This may not be a serious problem in the next four years, although no-one can guarantee that, but it definitely will be for future generations, since it is inconceivable that economic growth in the next few years will be strong enough to make a sizeable dent in the debt, even if deficit spending ends, also unlikely, given Democrat dedication to various climate change measures and other priorities.

In the international sphere, which will not be an initial priority of the new administration (unless events force changes in priorities), relations with China will be front and center. It is not clear what Biden may change in the Trump policies towards China, but with confrontation, including massive military displays in the South China Sea continuing, the challenge cannot be avoided.

It is likely that the Biden administration will take a harder line with both Russia and Turkey than Trump did, who showed a quite remarkable affinity for both Putin and Erdogan. North Korea is always lurking in the wings, and can create a crisis at any time.

In the Middle East, Iran will be the focus, and in this regard, testimony by both the incoming secretary of state and the incoming head of the CIA indicates that the announced intention to reenter the infamous "deal" of 2015 will be neither easy nor rapid, with conditions placed on re-entry making it unlikely to take place at all.

This is, of course, good news for Israel, along with promises to keep the US embassy in Jerusalem and to support the Abraham Accords process. Whereas not a priority item, the new administration will certainly reverse the Trump administration's Palestinian policies, permitting the reopening of the Palestinian Authority office in DC and resuming financial assistance while reverting to a policy of promoting a two-state solution.

All in all, assuming Biden demonstrates the fortitude to hold off the extremists in his party, not a bad prospect, for the US, for the world, and for Israel.

Dr. Norman Bailey is professor of Economic Statecraft at the Galilee International Management Institute, and adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics, Washington DC. Dr. Bailey was a senior staff member of the National Security Council during the Reagan administration and of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration. 

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on January 21, 2021

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