President Biden’s first three years in office have forced him to confront numerous foreign policy challenges, leading to mixed reviews from experts on how well the president has responded on the world stage.
‘One of the most important accomplishments of the Biden administration has been re-invigorating NATO, which is the most successful military alliance in U.S. history,’ David Tafuri, a foreign policy analyst who served as a foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign, told Fox News Digital. ‘The future of NATO was in question during Trump’s administration.’
Tafuri’s comments come as Biden faces multiple international crises ahead of his reelection bid in November, including Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, a war in Gaza, and continued tense relations with adversaries such as Iran and China.
To date, Tafuri said the president has demonstrated an improved foreign policy over that of former President Trump’s administration, a comparison that could weigh heavily again as the former president seeks to solidify his grasp on the Republican nomination for president and set up a rematch with Biden.
When it comes to rebuilding the alliance with NATO, Tafuri said Trump ‘openly discussed withdrawing from NATO’ and ‘openly feuded with other NATO members and flirted with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin,’ something that only worked to embolden Russia.
‘Trump’s encouragements to Putin and attempt to blackmail [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy by withholding weapons from Ukraine (for which he was impeached by the House of Representatives), more than anything Biden did, led to the Russian invasion of Ukraine,’ Tafuri said. ‘Now, the front line for protecting democracy and rule of law runs through eastern and southern Ukraine.’
Tafuri also lauded Biden’s handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, noting that the president was well ahead of Putin’s plans and began readying Ukraine and allies to respond to the invasion months in advance.
‘This gave Ukraine and its allies time to prepare for the invasion, which proved crucial in Ukraine’s early success in defending Kyiv as well as most of the territory that Russia thought it would be able to occupy,’ Tafuri said. ‘Biden led NATO to work more collaboratively than it has in decades to provide billions of dollars in aid and sophisticated weapons systems to Ukraine, again flustering Russia’s intentions.’
But Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, said that as the war in Ukraine drags on it is getting harder for Biden to claim it as a win.
‘A year ago, maybe even six months ago, you would have said Russia/Ukraine’ was a foreign policy win for Biden, Bremmer told Fox News Digital, noting that the U.S. was ‘leading a multilateral coalition of all the NATO allies to put 11 rounds of sanctions on Russia’ but also provided ‘unprecedented amounts of support for Ukraine’ that helped the country in its early battlefield successes.
‘Unfortunately, the last few months have made it much harder to say that’s a win, in part because Zelenskyy is looking weaker and more desperate and his counteroffensive didn’t go well,’ Bremmer said.
Bremmer also pointed to the fact that Biden has been unable to maintain unity among European allies as the conflict drags on, while at home the president has also faced division and questions from Republicans about the continued heavy spending on Ukraine.
‘That makes it harder for him to maintain his commitment to do as much as necessary, whatever it takes as long as it takes,’ Bremmer said.
Despite the setback, Bremmer said Biden has contributed to multiple foreign policy accomplishments in his three years in office. Aside from the improvement in relations with NATO allies, Bremmer pointed to Biden’s work strengthening ties between two critical allies in Japan and South Korea.
‘They were basically at each other’s throats and not engaging diplomatically … hurting their economic and security relationship,’ Bremmer said. ‘The U.S. facilitated a breakthrough, hosted a trilateral meeting at Camp David, and since then, you’ve had dozens of high-level trilateral engagements on the economic side, diplomatic side and security side.’
Bremmer likened the breakthrough to the Abraham Accords that were negotiated under Trump, an agreement that normalized relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
‘It’s that scale of a win,’ Bremmer said.
Another accomplishment Bremmer pointed to was Biden’s handling of China, arguing that the president has facilitated a ‘more functional and more stable’ relationship with one of America’s largest adversaries.
Bremmer said the U.S. has ‘not given up anything that matters’ when dealing with China under Biden, noting that those tariffs remain where they were under the Trump administration, yet the U.S. has been able to secure export controls on ‘semiconductors, cloud computing, the CHIPS Act and the chips agreement with the Netherlands, South Korea and Japan.’
‘That is coordinating U.S. industrial policy and probably the most strategically important part of the advanced economy,’ Bremmer said.
Bremmer noted that coordinating with the advanced economy also ‘underpins artificial intelligence,’ a technology that the Chinese are ‘way back’ on.
While Bremmer cautioned that there should be no ‘false sense’ that the U.S. and China suddenly have a ‘relationship of trust,’ he said Biden’s moves have forced China to negotiate in some areas from a ‘position of weakness,’ making them more willing to meet U.S. demands. This has resulted in other wins such as an agreement for the Chinese to shut down exports of ingredients used to make fentanyl in the U.S. and the stopping of Chinese harassment of American aircraft.
While complex issues remain when it comes to China, Bremmer said Biden has positioned the U.S. well to deal with those challenges.
The same might not be able to be said about the Middle East, Bremmer said, noting that the region has been an obvious place of ‘struggle’ for the administration.
‘The big breakthrough in the Middle East in the last three years was facilitated by China, not the U.S.,’ Bremmer said. ‘It was the Saudi, Iran breakthrough … the Americans were completely on the sidelines and kind of surprised by that.’
Bremmer also pointed to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which he said was ‘mishandled’ by Biden despite being given a tough situation by previous administrations.
‘Still, Biden mismanaged the withdrawal and did it unilaterally without engaging properly with allies,’ Bremmer said. ‘Of course, the visuals in particular were incredibly embarrassing as the U.S.-supported government folded, collapsed almost immediately.’
Meanwhile, Bremmer noted the lack of progress made between Israel and the Palestinians during Biden’s time in office, which has now resulted in a ‘massive war’ that Biden will be hard-pressed to contain in his current position.
‘As you’ve heard from the head of the CIA and the secretary of state, this is the most dangerous time in the Middle East in at least four years, and it comes at a time when the president of the U.S. does [not] have a lot of leverage over Israeli actions,’ Bremmer said.
That war has come during a period when American forces in the region have continued to be the target of attacks from Iran-backed proxy militias in Iraq and Syria, the most recent of which killed three American service members and injured dozens more.
Biden responded by authorizing a series of more than 100 airstrikes throughout the region on Friday, with Biden warning, ‘If you harm an American, we will respond.’
‘This past Sunday, three American soldiers were killed in Jordan by a drone launched by militant groups backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Earlier today, I attended the dignified return of these brave Americans at Dover Airforce Base, and I have spoken with each of their families,’ the president said in a statement shortly after the strikes last Friday.
Yet Biden has faced calls to do more, including hit Iranian targets directly, with some arguing that the president’s unwillingness to do so has led to Iran being emboldened.
While Tafuri believes Iran remains one of the most challenging foreign policy issues for Biden moving forward, he argued that critics shouldn’t ‘tie Iran’s support for the proxy forces and militias that are attacking Americans to any action by President Biden.’
‘These forces have been active for decades and have been targeting Americans since they were founded,’ Tafuri told Fox News Digital. ‘After the Iraq invasion by the Bush administration in 2003, these groups killed hundreds of Americans. In 2016, the Iranian-backed militias were incorporated by law into Iraq’s armed forces, which gave them a big boost in power and influence.’
Instead, Tafuri expressed confidence that Biden will be able to deter such attacks in the future while also tackling the more pressing matter of ensuring the country does not obtain nuclear weapons.
‘A bigger challenge is ensuring Iran does not get nuclear weapons,’ Tafuri said. ‘I expect that over the next year that the Biden administration will focus on disincentivizing attacks on our soldiers by Iranian proxy forces, while keeping the more important goal of restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions at the forefront of our policy.’