As we approach the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, we are living a moment of anticipation, recalling previous events and waiting to see what will happen in the future. International relations experts are still interested in the United States, which has exercised world leadership and sovereignty for three-quarters of a century, its president and its administration. While the U.S made use of its wisdom in establishing the international system after World War II — the United Nations and economic social and human rights organizations — its foolish policies led to the invasion of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, the personality of U.S presidents has always been controversial. Over the past 50 years, the personality of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led the Allied armies to victory over Nazism in World War II, has greatly influenced that of the subsequent American presidents. But it was completely the opposite with John F. Kennedy, whose presidential personality, with all its youthful vitality and female relations, dominated. Even his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, maintained a powerful personality until that dramatic assassination came to wake up Americans and the world from the dreams Kennedy promised to fulfill. President Lyndon B. Johnson was far from all that. His hands were stained with the American blood that shed in Vietnam. Equally, the Vietnamese bloodshed was a wake-up call to the world.
Surprisingly, all of this took us back to President Richard Nixon, who lost the 1960 election to Kennedy and was later elected twice, only to resign after the Watergate scandal. Nixon did not benefit much from the fact that he established relations with China and signed an accord with the Soviet Union. After President Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter’s presidency was limited to one term, marked by one single achievement: the first step toward peace in the Middle East.
The new world began under President Ronald Reagan, who managed to draw Moscow into an arms race that exhausted the Soviet Union. Consequently, the socialist pole collapsed together with the Warsaw Pact. This was followed by the new world order introduced by President George H.W. Bush, after his victorious war in the Persian Gulf. But he did not withstand young Bill Clinton, who pushed the world toward liberal democracy through globalization. But his youth caught both himself and America in the trap of a beautiful young girl, a moral crisis that began the collapse of the American dream of world leadership.
The reality was very obvious, not only through the Democratic Party’s inability to hold onto power, but also through a series of power transitions between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, who was succeeded by Republican Donald Trump. With his abject failure in the administration, Trump did not win a second term. Then, Joe Biden came, once again raising democracy and liberalism as the flags of another new regime. But Biden came very late, as other political systems have become dominant across the world, either because other countries have a different viewpoint regarding the traditional democratic form or a greater focus on achievement and effectiveness. Generally, the majority of countries in the world no longer adopt political systems based on a lot of democratic discord and inability to face affliction and pandemics.
Anyone who reviews the policy Biden brought to the White House will notice that much of it revolved around five issues. First, eliminating the COVID-19 pandemic and resuming work and production in the United States. Second, uniting the American nation again after a rift that lasted for a full presidential term. Third, uniting the allies in Western Europe and the Western Pacific under American leadership. Fourth, managing relations with Russia and China — the other two poles of the international system — with a package of pressure and another of diplomatic, political and economic temptations. Fifth, until America gathers its strength to achieve all of this, the American withdrawal from the Middle East, and the replacement of the military presence with a heavy diplomatic presence is a duty.
By doing all this, Biden, who is relatively old, is trying hard to show his vitality. As his predecessor Obama did in the electoral arena or when landing from the plane with a wide smile, Biden rushes from a distance toward the speech stage before standing in front of the microphone.
Now, almost a year has passed since Biden took office, in which his popularity has greatly declined after catastrophic failure in dealing with the pandemic. The number of COVID-19 victims increased to more than 800,000 and is still rising, even exceeding the miserable rates under Trump. Despite appearing with the Group of Seven, the European Union and NATO, Biden was not convincing, either in restoring the close bond between allies, or in confronting opponents in Russia and China about Ukraine and the South China Sea.
The American withdrawal from Afghanistan was badly organized and conducted, and it seems that such things do not only happen in the Middle East, but rather in the whole world. As U.S. competitors truly predicted, the American exit from the world is no longer a change in means and a replacement of brute force tactics with smarter, more effective ones, but rather a withdrawal that has become a sign of physical weakness the U.S. president shows during his interviews with leaders of other countries. He has become sluggish with clumsy movements in the first year of power. Now, the American question is: What will the situation be at the end of the term, and will the president be fit to run for a second term? If not, can his deputy, Kamala Harris, persuade the American voters to make her the 47th president of the United States of America?
At home, the results of the first year are not promising. Despite the great confidence that Biden showed during his first months in the White House, he failed several times in facing the pandemic. Biden did not achieve the 70% vaccination rate he promised to American people in July. In fact, this percentage has not been achieved so far, which prompted the president to talk about compulsory vaccination, creating a political contradiction that may only be resolved by the Supreme Court. Biden added a new split to the previous ones in American politics. He expresses his desire to increase the number of seats in the Supreme Court, as well as to restrict the filibuster, currently used to stall debates in the Senate. Moreover, he created a new faction within the Democratic Party after he gave the progressives on the left some concessions that did not give him new allies within the party, but rather offered him many opponents. The Republican-Democratic division has become so profound that it renewed enthusiasm in a number of American states to exercise the right of secession, a right that has not been used since the Civil War.