The incoming Administration will be faced with a lot of challenges. Part of that is the uniqueness of what has been the year 2020. Yet, the pandemic will hopefully be waning by the time that the new presidential term starts in January. The vaccines will presumably already being administered and medical professionals say that everyone who wants a vaccine could be vaccinated as early as June. If that is the case, then the primary issue with the pandemic will be the economic recovery and how to pay for the cost of the pandemic relief. The biggest challenge may be one of foreign policy, in an area that the Obama Administration failed miserably but has shown historic progress in the last three months.
One of the biggest foreign policy achievements of the last year has been the breakthrough in Middle East peace. In the last three months, two Muslim Arab countries have agreed to peace deals with Israel. And last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia, the first time an Israeli leader has ever visited the country.
This is more significant because of the massive setbacks for the US during the Obama Administration, when John Kerry was Secretary of State.
Under Kerry’s leadership, the US managed to alienate every major US ally in the region. Collectively but in ways unique to their situation, they all felt betrayed as the US began to try to reach out to Iran at the expense of any and everything else. US allies were felt so uneasy about the US foreign policy was going, that they began to turn to Russia. For the first time in history, the King of Saudi Arabia visited Moscow and then offered $10 billion in economic assistance to Russian President Putin. Egypt reached an agreement to allow Russians to use their military bases for the first time since 1972 when Egypt threw out the Russian military. And even the Israeli Prime Minister visited Moscow several times and was the only leader of a major western country to be present for Russia’s Victory Day military parade for several years.
That has changed, the US has clearly said that Iran is the major threat to peace in the region and worked to coordinate opposition to Iranian sponsored terror groups. As a result, the prospects for peace with Israel and its neighbors has never been better.
Why is that significant now? Well, because President-elect Joe Biden has announced that John Kerry will be a member of his Cabinet, though not as Secretary of State but with foreign policy responsibilities. That’s scary. Kerry was arguably the worst Secretary of State in the 250 year history of the country and now he will be in the President’s Cabinet again? Not a good beginning to the foreign policy prospects of a new Administration.