This OpEd is written by Dr. Joseph Bahout, IFI's Director, and was published in L'Orient Today.
The dialectic of rupture and continuity in foreign policy between the different US administrations has long been a classic issue. The Middle East is no exception here. It is actually one of the most recurring and prominent issues on the table.
The new US administration has to pick up where Trump left off and with what he has passed on to his successor, America and the world. This could be a heavy burden, often with irreversible changes. Yet, it could also be useful on occasion, and perhaps make way for opportunities.
In terms of continuity, the Biden presidency will maintain the gradual but relentless US disengagement from the Middle East, a policy that first emerged under Barack Obama.
Certainly, it is by no means a question of withdrawal, but rather an egoistic “lighter American footprint.” Fewer troops on the ground or in scattered bases, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or even in the Gulf, has become the Pentagon’s new approach. This is particularly true since the undeniably failed US venture in Iraq and the definite end of the “nation-building” illusion, something Washington no longer claims to be its prerogative.
Instead, and along the lines of Obama’s framework, the US now seeks to consolidate geopolitical and security subcontracting of certain dossiers.