08 August 2021

TRENDS Research and Advisory has released the sixth issue of the Strategic Trends Series, entitled “Deconstructing President Biden’s 100 Days in Office: Outlook and Prospects”, by Dr. Stephen Blackwell, Justin B. Dyer, James A. Russell, Yossi Mekelberg, and Cheng Li.

The study examines the Biden administration’s policies aimed at enhancing US competitiveness in the fields of science, technology, research and development, and information technology infrastructure, given that the loss of US supremacy in any of those areas would have dire consequences. The study notes that Biden is pursuing an ambitious agenda to change immigration policy, health care, social care, energy, anti-discrimination, and infrastructure, and is laying the groundwork for a new ruling majority.

The point is made that any assessment of the first hundred days of the administration of US President Joe Biden is not in any way a final verdict on the way he governs, especially after Biden pledged to restore the presidential office to the position it had before his predecessor Donald Trump took office.

The study explains that President Biden’s first hundred days exceeded expectations with regard to his willingness to implement drastic measures in order to address the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic and revitalize the US economy. While his foreign policy did not lead to many surprises, the new administration has shown that it is committed to a multilateral approach and less tolerant of governments that are anti-Western and willing to undermine what Washington sees as core values ​​that underpin US national interests.

With regard to Biden’s approach to the Middle East, the study indicates that the US administration will face many obstacles to the realization of two of its main priorities in the region, namely: re-conclusion of the agreement aimed at restricting the Iranian nuclear program; and reformulating its relations with its Arab partners. Overall, the Biden administration finds itself dealing with the legacy of the Trump administration’s policy, much of which, including the Abraham Accords, it will preserve.

The study underlines that the US has returned to playing a major role in foreign affairs and has abandoned the idea of “​America First” in order to focus on internal issues and adopt a multilateral approach out of full conviction. The study also states that many of the recent moves by the Biden administration indicate the imminent beginning of a new cold war with China. Those moves include restructuring global manufacturing and supply chains, establishing the so-called “chip alliance”, and joining similar-minded countries in boycotting Chinese products on the basis of human rights concerns.

The study indicates that US-Chinese competition today differs from the days of the Cold War in two important aspects: firstly, the US and China are almost equal in strength; and, secondly, the current situation is more dangerous due to the availability of artificial intelligence and new offensive technologies along with nuclear weapons, so that neither country can achieve victory or destroy the other in an all-out war.

The study concludes that the competition between the two largest economies in the world, the US and China may lead to an unexpected escalation and subsequently to conflict, given light of the challenges facing President Biden, including the nature of the changes expected in US domestic politics and Washington’s relations with Russia, China, and the Middle East.