Threats that do not recognize walls and borders
In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Mehdi Shapouri stated that the interim national security document of Joe Biden has divided the US national security threats into five categories: the first category of threats are those that do not know the wall and border and confronting them needs a collective effort at global level. Climate crises, cyber and digital threats, international economic problems, humanitarian crises, terrorism and extremism, biological hazards and the spread of epidemics, as well as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are included in this category.
Democracy; under increasing pressure
The second category of threats mentioned in this document are the threats to democracy both globally and within the United States. The document states that democracy is increasingly under pressure and that open societies face corruption, inequality, polarization, populism and violation of the rule of law.
Threats of changing power distribution
Explaining the third threat addressed in the US National Security Document, the international affairs analyst said: The third threat is due to the change in the distribution of power in the international system. In this case, the emphasis is primarily on threatening China and increasing its power in various areas, stating that China is taking an aggressive approach in foreign policy. After China is Russia, which seeks to expand its influence internationally to the detriment of the United States.
Shapouri, saying that after China and Russia, Iran and North Korea have been considered in the second place of this type of threats and added: It has been said that Iran and North Korea are trying to acquire the so-called Game Changing capabilities and technologies to change the rules of the game. These countries are said to be threatening US allies and its partners and challenging regional stability.
He cited fragile governments as well as terrorism and violent extremism as the next threats mentioned in the document, adding: In the US foreign policy, unlike in the past, terrorism and extremism are no longer the primary level of US national security threats; rather, first China and Russia, then countries like Iran and North Korea, then bankrupt governments, and then terrorism and violence are included.
Need to reform international order
Shapouri noted that many of those threats were also mentioned in the Trump administration’s foreign policy document, adding: The fourth category of threats is related to the defects of international order. The document states that the liberal international order, which relies on a series of US-backed alliances, institutions, agreements, and norms, has been tested and its shortcomings identified. The United States must work with its allies to address those shortcomings and challenges and to reform the existing international order.
Emphasizing the importance of this approach, the international affairs expert explained: The Trump administration also argued that the existing international order no longer serves the interests of the United States as it once did, and that its shortcomings need to be reformed.
Revolution in technology; the fifth category of US national security threats
He added: According to this document, the fifth category of threats is due to the technology revolution. The document states that the revolution that has taken place in technology could be both an opportunity and a threat to the United States; for example, topics such as biotechnology and fifth-generation Internet communications have been mentioned.
Different consequences compared to Trump administration
Meanwhile, Shapouri said that a new classification of threats has been introduced in the document, which differs from the Trump era. For example, the first category, which deals with threats beyond borders and walls, is contrary to the Trump administration’s approach to wall-building and demarcation. Trump was trying to build a wall and control borders to prevent threats that could pose a threat to the United States. Also, the threat to democracy posed in the Biden interim document was non-existent under Trump.
Emphasizing that the differences between this document and Trump’s national security document would have far-reaching consequences, he said: For example, when the United States believes in global threats without borders, it must put aside unilateralism to deal with those threats and take steps on the path of multilateralism and global cooperation. Signs of this approach are emerging in the Biden administration; such as returning to the Paris Climate Agreement and extending the new Start Agreement for another five years.
Shapouri said according to this document, strengthening of the US relations with its allies in the international system has been considered, adding: In discussing the threats to democracy, we see that the United States has gone, and will go, to countries that consider them as part of the free world. Officials of the Biden administration have stressed that the United States, with the help of democracies, will try to counter the threats posed by authoritarianism, which sees Russia and China at the helm.
He went on to say that the Trump administration, in discussing the shortcomings of the international order, sought to reform this system alone; but the Biden’s administration has emphasized that the United States will do so with the help of its allies; for example, in the field Trade if the rules of the world trade are to be reformed, the United States will rely more on multilateralism, and especially on cooperation with allies and countries that it considers as its democratic allies.
Middle East, Iran in Biden government’s interim national security document
The international affairs expert said that the view of the Biden administration’s interim national security document on the Middle East is somehow different from the Trump administration’s approach. He further remarked: The document states that the solution to the Middle East problems is not military, and the important point is that the United States does not sign white checks on policies that conflict with its values and interests. It is telling the US allies, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia, that they will no longer have the full support of the United States, like the Trump judges.
Shapouri pointed to the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration’s policies regarding the Yemen war and Khashoggi’s assassination case, adding: Contrary to the Trump administration’s approach, this document once again emphasizes the two-state solution to the Palestinian issue; while this solution was completely abandoned in the Trump administration. At the same time, of course, the United States iron commitment to Israel’s security has been emphasized.
The faculty member of the Strategic Studies Center, in relation to Iran’s position in this document, said: In the Biden administration document, the repeated claims and accusations of the United States about Iran are repeated and emphasis has been placed on working with US regional partners to counter what is being called Iran’s aggression and threat to the integrity and sovereignty and territory of the countries in the region. However, it has been said that we will pursue principled diplomacy regarding Iran’s nuclear program and other destabilizing measures in the region. This could be seen as a change compared to Trump administration’s policy toward Iran.
Saying that the nature of the so-called Iran threat is not much different for different US administrations and all US administrations have considered regional policies and our country’s nuclear and military developments as a threat to the US interests, he noted: There have been and there are differences in the two issues; one is how threatening Iran is, and the other is how the Iranian problem can be solved.
Shapouri explained: The Trump administration considered Iran to be the main problem in the Middle East, and for this reason, it pursued the approach of “maximum pressure” on Iran and, on the contrary, maximum support of Iran’s enemies and regional rivals. In contrast, the Obama and Biden administrations, in addition to Iran, have implicated US allies in the region; so they seem to have advocated a more balanced approach to putting pressure on Iran and supporting US regional allies. Overall, it can be said that the approach of the Republican administrations towards Iran is closer to the so-called “regime change” option and the approach of the Democrat governments to the “behavior change” option.