Far more than they appeared to at first glance, two news stories in recent days have framed America’s position in the world at the outset of Joe Biden’s presidency in unusually stark and powerful ways.
The first trumpeted a $400 billion investment agreement between Beijing and Tehran, with China vastly increasing its trade with Iran. It comes at a moment when the United States is hoping to force the Iranian government back to the negotiating table to reinstate and even broaden the international agreement aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The Trump administration withdrew from that deal, reimposing harsh sanctions on Iran that Biden hasn’t lifted.
The second news item, which received much less attention, was Biden revealing that he has suggested to U.S. allies, starting with the United Kingdom, that they try to blunt China’s many recent geopolitical advances by getting into the game of major international infrastructure projects and competing with the signature foreign policy initiative of the Xi Jinping era: the Belt and Road Initiative. “I suggested we should have, essentially, a similar initiative, pulling from the democratic states, helping those communities around the world that, in fact, need help,” Biden told reporters.