A few days ago, former US president Donald Trump confirmed his nomination for the next presidential elections, which will take place in 2024.
Trump submitted the nomination papers to the Federal Election Commission, then spoke to his supporters at his residence in Florida. “To make America great again, I am tonight declaring my nomination for president of the United States,” Trump said, adding that he wants to prevent Biden from securing a second presidential term.
On the other hand, US President Joe Biden responded to Trump’s nomination by saying that the former Republican president had “failed” his country during his tenure in office.
The scene appears at first glance as a conflict between two completely contradictory parties. However, when we evaluate Biden’s performance so far, we find that there are no fundamental differences between the two presidents, especially concerning US foreign policy, which is the subject of criticism by all.
This opinion may seem illogical, but the concrete facts on the ground categorically confirm that Biden’s policy has never differed from Trump’s.
Let’s look first at the relationship with Russia, which many believe is a clear point of difference between Trump and Biden. However, in reality, despite Trump’s admiration for Putin’s personality, this did not change the US administration’s hard-line stance towards Russia under Trump. Indeed, during Trump’s term, the US approved the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia and worked to close Russian consulates in the US, in addition to consolidating American military support for Ukraine.
These are certainly the same policies practiced by the Biden administration towards Russia. The situation may have worsened with the Ukrainian war, but in general, the US’ policy towards Russia has not changed. In other words, the policies of the US towards Russia under both administrations did not differ at all save for the words of flattery that Trump used to describe Putin.
As for relations with China, there has been no difference between the two presidents on that front either, even though many analysts expected Biden to pursue different policies after the clear hostility that Trump displayed.
And yet, the Biden administration maintained the tariffs and export controls that were adopted during the Trump era. It also sought to limit Chinese investment in the US and pressured allies to avoid buying Chinese technology. The Biden administration also supported Trump’s allegations that the coronavirus had leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan.
Moreover, just like Trump, Biden called Beijing’s suppression of Uighur Muslims a “genocide.”
More importantly, the Biden administration has not changed the country’s attitude toward Taiwan at all, continuing its policy of “strategic ambiguity,” helping Taiwan to strengthen and build its defences without explicitly pledging to provide its assistance in the event of an attack by China.
In fact, protecting Taiwan has become an issue of interest to both the Republican and Democratic parties in the US, as Washington considers Taiwan one of the most important pressure cards it has against China.
The policy of the US towards the Middle East also did not change between the two administrations. Undoubtedly, both considered it necessary to withdraw from the region. Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was only a continuation of an agreement concluded by the Trump administration with the Taliban in 2020 to facilitate the final US military withdrawal from there, but this agreement was stalled for some time until the Biden administration came to complete it.
Regarding Palestine, which is the most important file in the Middle East, the Biden administration avoided making any new attempts to reach a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. This is despite Biden’s announcement of his adoption of the two-state solution. Moreover, the Biden administration has been reluctantly involved in diplomatic efforts to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas in recent rounds.
Biden’s policy seems to have only differed in the Iranian file. Given that Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Biden has been trying to reinstate the agreement through negotiations that seem to have reached a dead end.
As for the internal level, the Biden administration has not made any significant progress. This is where the division between the Republican and Democratic parties is still raging. The Biden administration has also reinforced the polarisation among the American people that the Trump administration created.
More importantly, in the field of women’s rights, the Republican Party was able to achieve its greatest victory during the Democratic Biden era, succeeding in completely abolishing women’s right to abortion, even in cases of rape, which is a clear violation of women’s rights.
Evidently, there is no fundamental difference between the Trump and Biden administrations. This is because the US has one fixed policy towards the rest of the world and does not change. American sovereignty and the protection of American interests is the constant goal that will not change in Washington.
On the domestic level, too, the US has fallen prey to polarisation and partisan conflicts, and it does not seem to be able to get out of this whirlpool. Therefore, the US will not “be back” if Biden gets another term as his slogan says. At the same time, the US will not be “great again” either if Trump wins. Practical reality says that both Trump and Biden are two sides of the same coin.
* Marwa Al-Shinawy is an Assistant Professor at the International American University for Specialised Studies (IAUS)