What the Joseph Robinette Biden presidency would mean for Africa – Perspectives by Simon Ateba

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., the 47th vice president of the United States in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017, is running for president. Election Day is November 3, 2020, but already, about 50 million Americans have cast their votes.

If elected, Joe Biden would become the 46th President of the United States on January 20, 2021, replacing the 45th President Donald J. Trump, who would likely move to Florida to play more golf, or back to New York for business.

Biden’s official profile shows he was raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and New Castle County, Delaware, and studied at the University of Delaware before earning his law degree from Syracuse University in 1968.

He was elected a New Castle County Councillor in 1970, and became the sixth-youngest senator in American history when he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Delaware in 1972.

Biden was a longtime member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and eventually its chairman. Biden’s vote as a Senator have varied over time. For instance, he opposed the Gulf War in 1991, but supported expanding the NATO alliance into Eastern Europe and its intervention in the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s.

He supported the resolution authorizing the Iraq War in 2002 but opposed the surge of U.S. troops in 2007. He also chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987 to 1995, dealing with drug policy, crime prevention, and civil liberties issues; he led the effort to pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the Violence Against Women Act, and oversaw six U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings, including the contentious hearings for Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and again in 2008, but won the nomination in 2020.

But what would a Joe Biden presidency mean for Africa?

During his ABC News Town hall on October 15 in Philadelphia, Joe Biden highlighted his biggest contrast with President Trump on foreign policy.

“We’ve been most effective as a world leader, in my humble opinion, not just by the exercise of our power,” he said, “but the power of our example.”

According to him, “that’s what’s led the rest of the world to follow us, on almost everything.”

Joe Biden told the voters in that town hall, that he would build alliances with the rest of the world, including countries in Africa.

“We find ourselves in a position where we’re more isolated in the world than we’ve ever been,” he said.

Biden argued that President Donald Trump’s “America first” policy “has made America alone.”

“You have Iran closer to having enough nuclear material to build a bomb. North Korea has more bombs and missiles available to it. We find ourselves where our NATO allies are publicly saying they can’t count on us. We’re in a situation, as well, where in the Far East, we find ourselves … in the Western Pacific, where we’re isolated, as well,” he said

“You have Japan and South Korea at odds with one another, China is making moves. So…… I would say we find ourselves less secure than we’ve been.”

Biden said under Trump, the United States is “not very well trusted around the world.”

Last week, former President Barack Obama, said Joe Biden would “have to rebuild” the State Department if he were elected next month. Obama lambasted President Trump and the Trump administration on the “Pod Save America” podcast.

Obama praised Biden for his “restraint and humility” and “confidence in diplomacy.”

“[T]hat instinct that I think is going to trickle out, partly because he’s gonna have to rebuild a State Department where some of the best people have been driven out systematically because they weren’t willing to tow Trump’s ideological agenda,” the former President said, referring to Trump’s America first policy.

There you have it. Joe Biden would have to rebuild alliances with the rest of the world, including countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, and to do that, a strong emphasis would be placed in rebuilding the State Department.

A Joe Biden presidency would need to treat African countries as equal partners who are united in resolving global challenges, from healthcare to security.

A Joe Biden presidency would also need to rebuild confidence between African nations and the United States, and reassure Africans they are not being seen as people who live in a ‘shit-hole’ continent as President Trump was reported to have said.

It would also need to rebuild alliances in the areas of trade, security, democracy and human rights, and counter competition from China, Russia and the rest.

As Africa’s moves past COVID-19 and poverty escalates, triggering some unrest across the continent, the United States would need to stand with the oppressed and for the freedom of the media and expression.

Many Africans who look up to the United States have been confused in the past few years, especially as they witnessed police brutality and the racial profiling of black people in the United States.

A Joe Biden presidency would have to work really hard to regain the trust of African nations.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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