Is Donald Trump trying to light more fires than Joe Biden can douse with his radical foreign policy moves?

While a White House insider has confirmed the sinister plan, analysts are, however, divided over the impact the outgoing president's moves could leave for the incoming president to tackle

                            Is Donald Trump trying to light more fires than Joe Biden can douse with his radical foreign policy moves?
Joe Biden and Donald Trump (Getty Images)

President Donald Trump had considered the option of launching a military strike on Iran’s main nuclear facility after the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Tehran was adding to his uranium stockpile at an alarming rate, according to a recent report by The New York Times. The president was convinced against going forward with the extreme measure by his top aides, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

However, it seems Trump’s actual plan is far more sinister than targeting an enemy abroad. If inside sources in the White House are to be believed, the president is eyeing to put the succeeding administration of President-elect Joe Biden in jeopardy by lighting too many fires for it to douse. The option of launching a military strike on Iran is perhaps only a part of a bigger story. 

Is Trump trying to land Biden into trouble?

Earlier this week, CNN cited a White House official saying that the goal of the outgoing administration is to set so many fires that it will be challenging for Joe Biden, the incoming president, to put them out. Trump’s decisions to further reduce American troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and instigate a cyber and irregular warfare with China are other examples of his plan to augment trouble for his successor, the CNN report added. 

The report also cited another official who revealed that the White House had asked Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, following the dismissal of his predecessor Mark Esper by Trump, to focus on cyber and irregular warfare, particularly keeping China in mind. The administration is also thinking about new terrorist designations in Yemen that could hurt efforts to achieve peace there.

Moreover, it has rushed through authorization of massive arms sales that could impact the balance of power equations in the critical Middle East region. Pompeo announced on Tuesday, November 11, that the Trump administration had formally intimated the Congress of its plan to sell advanced weaponry worth almost $23 billion to the United Arab Emirates.

The secretary of state’s unprecedented visit to a settlement in the West Bank and announcement that America will tag exports from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank as Israeli is considered another move that would complicate the situation in the sensitive region for the next administration.


“The Trump team has prepared legally required transition memos describing policy challenges, but there are no discussions about actions they could take or pause. Instead, the White House is barreling ahead,” the CNN report added. 

Analysts divided over Trump's moves

The report added that the outgoing administration’s strategy, which it described as something “that radically breaks with past practice”, could add to the US’s national security risks and make things challenging for the Biden administration. However, there are also people who think that undoing some of the aggressive steps that the Trump team is taking in the dying days of the administration will see Biden earning goodwill points and negotiating power with enemies.

President Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate against former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio (Getty Images)

Analysts, who are more sympathetic towards Biden, feel Trump’s team is perhaps confusing style with substance. “..that the difference between Trump and Biden isn't a matter of the end goal, such as a departure from Afghanistan or a nuclear-free Iran, but simply a matter of how each leader wants to get there.”

The CNN also quoted Trita Parsi of DC-based Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft as saying: “The idea that Biden is some sort of softy doesn't correspond with many things.” Talking about the same goals of seeing a nuclear-free Iran, withdrawal from Afghanistan and managing the relationship with an increasingly assertive China, Parsi said: “The Biden administration is likely to continue many policies, but just with a different style.”

There are also analysts who feel that Trump is actually working towards his goal of running for the presidency in 2024 again. Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, DC, told CNN that by seeking to quicken the process of achieving some of his major foreign-policy promises before he leaves office in January, Trump is trying to send to his base the idea that he will continue to do exactly as he promised if he wins the presidency again.

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