A record number of U.S. voters cast ballots in the November 3 Presidential election, more than 150 million people. The latest electoral votes are reported as 306 for former vice president Biden and 232 electoral votes for President Trump.
Some recounts are still underway, but most U. S. historians say that Joseph R. Biden will become the nation’s 46th president on January 20, 2021, the next inauguration day. The 2020 presidential election helped produce a record turnout at nationwide polls this month.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS SCHOLARS LAMENT THE GAP BETWEEN ELECTION DAY AND PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURALS
Historians Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay note in Foreign Affairs magazine: “In France, the president takes office within ten days after an election. In the United Kingdom, the moving trucks arrive at 10 Downing Street the morning after the incumbent loses. The United States’ two and a half months looks good only in comparison to Mexico, where the transition lasts an arduous five months.”
The non-profit, non-partisan Soufan Center of New York notes: In past U.S presidential election races, foreign policy issues and Middle East policy in particular, were central to the debate. In 2020, the region has barely registered during the campaign season, with the possible exception of U. S. policy toward Iran.
The Soufan Center adds: “There has been little debate over the Trump administration’s announced drawdown from both Iraq and Afghanistan — countries in which the United States conducted significant military interventions following the September 11 attacks on the U.S. The withdrawals represent Trump’s efforts to fulfill his 2016 campaign promises to extricate the United States from the region’s ‘endless wars’.
“The drawdowns came despite the fact that threats to U.S. interests persist in both Iraq and Afghanistan and the deaths of more than 7,000 U.S. military personnel and at least two trillion dollars spent in the two theaters.”
SPECULATION ON CHALLENGES AHEAD
As a Council on Foreign Relations press release entitled “To The Brink With China” puts it: “The two governments should start a quiet strategic dialogue to develop rules of the road for their bilateral relationship”. Presumably, this would occur after President Biden’s inauguration next January 20.
In the CFR’s view, “The U.S. will need to abandon unrealistic hopes for regime change in China and instead focus on shaping China’s external behavior. China will have to accept that there are limits to what the U.S. and its allies will tolerate when it comes to unilateral acts that seek to alter the status quo in the South China Sea, Taiwan, or with the Senkaku Islands.
Former National Security adviser Susan E. Rice, in a New York Times op-ed column November 15, reflects on the failure of the Trump administration nearly two weeks after Mr. Biden’s election to begin transition discussions on present international crises:
“In 2020, as the days tick by, and Mr. Trump shows no signs of starting a transition, the risks increase. Mr. Biden and his top national security team have not been provided the daily intelligence briefings to which they are entitled. Mr. Biden’s team is not receiving classified information. The Biden-Harris teams agency review teams are constituted but so far have been denied access to every element of the executive branch. Vital exchanges of information that would help combat Covid-19 and jump-start the economy remain stalled.
“While we are extremely fortunate that Mr. Biden may be the most experienced president-elect ever to take office and brings with him a deep bench of highly-qualified, knowledgeable experts, the Trump administration’s continued refusal to execute a responsible transition puts our national security at risk. Without access to critical threat information, no incoming team can counter what it can’t see coming… it could cost us dearly in terms of American lives.
“Indeed, the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the 2001 Qaeda terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that killed some 3,000 Americans, found that the truncated 2000 transition showed the installation of key national security officials and stressed the importance of complete and thorough presidential transitions to U.S. national security.”
Time’s a-fleeting, and we all can hope that a fully-staffed joint transition team will be formed without delay!
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More