Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, wrote two articles for the Guardian, one in case of a Biden victory and another in case of a Trump victory. After the election, the Guardian published one and the other came on Varoufakis’ website with the title ‘The op-ed that The Guardian would have published had Trump won.’ It is to compare and contrast between the two articles and see the big similarities between Biden and Trump despite their actual minor differences. Trump and Biden are as much different as the difference between the two sentences: ‘So Donald Trump has won’ and ‘So yes, Joe Biden has won.’ No more and no less.
So in one sense, Biden term is the continuation of the Trump presidency, which is hard to realize at first sight by looking at the superficial conflicts between them during election and before the handover of power. If we put aside behavioral differences between them, Biden is accomplishing what Trump started. So Biden presidency is in a large part Trumpian. It is also Obama’s third term in many aspects as Branko Marcetic identified in a Jacobin (February 10, 2021) article entitled ‘So Far, the Biden Administration Is Shaping Up to Be Obama’s Third Term’. One will hardly find anything Bidenian during his reign.
Anne O. Krueger wrote in her Project Syndicate article (Biden's Trumpy Start on Trade, May 24, 2021): “Although Biden has reasserted America’s commitment to internationalism and multilateralism, he has moved slowly to repair the damage that Trump did to critical institutions like the WTO. Nor has Biden reversed Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP. … Biden also has not ended the trade war with China, even though that effort has utterly failed to achieve its stated objectives. … Biden says he wants to protect American jobs, yet the Trump administration’s tariffs on imported iron and steel … remain in place.”
In foreign policy Biden is following his predecessor Donald Trump in a letter-for-letter form. His role is just to carry forward the Trumpian foreign policy in a sweetened and seemingly more acceptable manner. In the cases of Iran, China, Palestine, Afghanistan and elsewhere, American policy has not budged an inch from the Trump period. Akhil Ramesh, therefore, wrote in The Hill (On foreign policy, Biden is more Trump lite than Obama 2.0, 19 July 2021), “With all the chaos and drama one would expect the incoming president to be poles apart from his predecessor. However, what America got was a simpler version of President Trump, at least in foreign policy if not in other aspects.”
In matter of the Afghanistan policy, he has accomplished what Trump promised during his time. It was Trump who made the deal with the Taliban for America’s withdrawal from that country. Biden just followed it. Admitting the US defeat in Afghanistan and withdrawal of US troops was not easy for American presidents. It is Trump with his crude behavior and rash ideas who became courageous and honest enough to do both. This paved the road for Biden for exiting the graveyard of America’s ‘good war’ narrative.
Mark LeVine and Stephen Zunes wrote in the Jacobin (The United States’ Imperial Foreign Policy Is the Deadly Enemy of Progress at Home, 14 June 2021), “In a post-Trump, post-George Floyd, post-pandemic world, Biden’s dogged support for Israel makes a mockery of his talk of a more humane and planet-friendly foreign-policy agenda. …… Significantly, Biden appears to be upholding some of Donald Trump’s most controversial moves, such as recognizing Jerusalem as solely Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there.”
Just after coming to office of presidency, Biden and his people with their supportive media began to pose as some sort of radicals not seen in the country since Roosevelt. They pretended to be poles apart from Donald Trump and steps ahead of Barack Obama. But soon their true colors began to come out before the world. The Biden presidency is part Obama and part Trump—a muddled mixture of the two.
Varoufakis wrote in the Guardian article on the Biden victory, “The confluence of discontent that powered Trump to power in 2016 has not gone away. To pretend like it has is only to invite future disaster – for America and the rest of the world.”
The disaster has started to roll on with the withdrawal from Afghanistan. And more is likely to follow in the rest of the Biden era.
The writer is Editor of Biggan O Sangskriti, a little mag.