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February 2021: Biden presidency underway amid pressing domestic and foreign policy concerns

The Brief

February 9, 2021

A few weeks into his term, President Joe Biden is facing a number of pressing domestic and global issues and the school's experts are examining the top challenges he and his administration are contending with. 
 
Dean Eliot A. Cohen told the Dallas Morning News the Biden administration will be grappling with the stability of liberal democracy itself, while also working to “turn the tide on this right-wing populist phase that we’re going through” following the Capitol Insurrection.
 
Pavithra Suryanarayan, Assistant Professor of International Political Economy, discussed how American institutions were undermined over the previous four years in The New York Times’ The Interpreter newsletter and emphasized that “Biden must not only rebuild the institutions themselves, but also take steps to protect them from such attacks and interference in the future.” 
 
David Lampton, Professor Emeritus of China Studies, predicted on Voice of America that “combatting the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S, reinvigorating the American economy, and restoring stable governance” will be Biden's top priorities before moving on to foreign policy objectives such as refining his China policy. 
 
Hal Brands, Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, analyzed the Biden team’s focus on rallying a multilateral coalition against China in Bloomberg Opinion and argued for a “truly competitive strategy that also requires imposing costs, tolerating diplomatic friction, and taking strategic risks that throw Beijing off balance.”
 
Hafed Al-Ghwell, Foreign Policy Institute Senior Fellow, examined challenges in U.S.-Middle East relations in his Arab News piece, noting that “if the Biden administration is to reverse decades of failures and seemingly rudderless policies, what the Middle East needs now is a sustainable, flexible and robust, U.S. presence that is as effective as it is persistent in delivering mutually beneficial outcomes.” 
 
Sanam Vakil, James Anderson Adjunct Professor of Middle East Studies, declared in a Chatham House essay that Iran is the most pressing Middle East issue, adding the Biden administration’s ‘compliance for compliance’ approach to a potential return to the Iran nuclear deal is a “necessary first step to safeguard the JCPOA and prevent Iran’s further nuclear acceleration.” 

The Brief highlights Johns Hopkins SAIS expertise on current events and is produced monthly by the Office of Marketing and Communications.