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Biden will not abandon Israel

Washington might not be as dependent on the Middle East as in the past, but the region is still an important strategic position for the superpower.

U.S. President Joe Biden talks on the phone with Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the Oval Office of the White House on Jan. 22, 2021. Credit: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz.
U.S. President Joe Biden talks on the phone with Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the Oval Office of the White House on Jan. 22, 2021. Credit: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz.
Dan Schueftan
Dan Schueftan

As the months go by, U.S. President Joe Biden’s foreign policy is becoming more and more evident. As worrisome as it is, it seems what Israel feared the most—that the new government would follow in the footsteps of the Obama administration—will not happen. At least not for now.

Biden is mistaken about several significant matters, and he does give in to the pressure from the progressives in his party, but unlike former President Barack Obama he is well aware of the strategic needs of the United States and its allies.

Israel might not have as much room for maneuver as it did during Donald Trump’s presidency, but it can still negotiate with the Biden administration when it comes to its security.

The good news is that despite going through a Democratic era, Washington can still recognize that it has enemies in the world, like China and Russia, that will not shy away from undermining the superpower’s domestic and international standing.

Biden is politely referring to them as “competitors,” but he understands full well that some nations will only respect the rules of the game if they are forced to.

Biden has no trouble recognizing a threat. What he does not understand, however, is that his multilateral approach might not be the most efficient one. Applying cross-continental pressure on Russia and China is obviously advantageous, but even in this matter, the U.S. president cannot fully trust the Europeans.

They have barely contributed to their share of European defense within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Washington’s Asian allies are so economically dependent on Beijing that their ability to support U.S. sanction efforts is questionable.

When it comes to the Middle East, Biden understands that continuing Obama’s delusional idea—that supporting the Palestinian struggle would stabilize the region—would be a mistake. When it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, however, the U.S. administration has decided to side with Iran, thinking that renewing the agreement will stop the Islamist Republic from becoming a nuclear threshold state.

Unless the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, undermines these efforts with a kind of provocation not even Washington could tolerate, the renewal of the nuclear agreement seems certain—bad news for Israel and the whole region.

Luckily, looking at the bigger picture, the United States will not abandon Israel and its Arab allies in the Middle East—because it will realize, sooner or later, that it needs us more than ever.

The United States might not be as dependent on the region and its oil production as much as in the past, but the Middle East is still an important strategic area for the United States, albeit one capable of dragging the superpower into an unwanted crisis.

That is why, in order to stabilize the Middle East, working together with Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt is of utmost importance for Biden.

Dan Schueftan is the director of the International Graduate Program in National Security Studies at the University of Haifa’s National Security Studies Center.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.

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