What We’re Tracking: Foreign Policy

This is the latest installment in our series highlighting the policy areas we’re watching leading up to inauguration–and how we’re expecting President-elect Biden’s administration to approach them. Read our previous entries on Health Care, Food & Ag, Tech and Climate.

Upcoming diplomatic deadlines will require President-elect Joe Biden’s immediate attention despite his intent to focus primarily on domestic issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.

The New START arms control treaty—which limits U.S. and Russian nuclear weapon stockpiles—is set to expire two weeks after Biden is sworn in unless the U.S. and Russia agree on an extension before then. 

If the February 5 deadline passes without a deal, there will be no major arms control agreement or coordination managing 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

The recent cyberattack that affected multiple U.S. government agencies and Fortune 500 companies—widely attributed to Russian actors—is further complicating the new administration’s posture towards Russia. Biden’s team has promised to respond to the attack with more than “just sanctions.”

Biden will also face self-imposed deadlines upon his inauguration, such as his promise to rejoin the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization on his first day in office—kickstarting his multilateralist approach to foreign policy. 

He’ll also face deadlines on a variety of trade issues such as tariff renewals and bilateral trade agreement negotiations.

Beyond his first few weeks in office, Biden will face critical decisions about:

  • How and when to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal
  • How to end U.S. involvement in “forever wars”, and
  • How to properly balance cooperation with China on global issues such as climate change while countering its threats to U.S. security and prosperity.