Bangladeshi pro-radical Islam political party jubilant of Biden’s victory

Anita Mathur

The major opposition party in Bangladesh, with heavy incline towards radical Islam and jihad has started celebrating the ‘victory’ of Joe Biden thinking the next US administration will intervene into internal affairs of a number of nations in Asia, including Bangladesh. Similar sense of celebration is also seen within politicians in the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

Meanwhile, several leaders of pro-Islamist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have started taking preparations of flooding members of the Biden administration with “evidences of human rights violations” in Bangladesh as well as “intimidation of the political opponents”. Policymakers of BNP are also maintaining regular contact with Dr. Osman Siddique, the younger brother of its leader Dr. Osman Faruk, who is going to get an important post in the Biden administration. Similarly, under the leadership of a Nobel laureate, an editor of Dhaka’s leading English daily newspaper and few more anti-government individuals are taking preparations with the goal of flooding the Biden administration with ‘information’ and ‘evidences’ on various ‘unlawful’ activities of the ruling party.

Analysts on American affairs are seeing the Biden administration aggressively interfering into internal affairs of foreign nations, especially in Asia and Africa.

Keith Loveard, a Jakarta-based independent security analyst, said a return to old-school diplomacy would go a long way towards “restoring US prestige in the region after years of neglect”.

“While Trump didn’t impact the region directly, the threat of some form of policy misdirection perpetually polluted the environment. Biden is a known quantity who will restore traditional processes, although that too may bring new challenges,” he said.

Some other analysts say, the world, and in particular Southeast Asia, has changed dramatically in the last four years. Globalization is on the back foot, spurred by the pandemic, with bilateral relations taking precedence over multilateralism to the detriment of trade blocs like Asean.

According to Sebastian Strangio, South Asia Editor at The Diplomat, a Biden administration would begin to redress many of these shortfalls. A long-serving member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden would spearhead a revival of the State Department. In terms of his Asia policy, Biden would preside over an updated, stiffened version of President Obama’s “pivot” or “rebalance” policy, the formulation and implementation of which will at least take regional interests more seriously. Biden’s senior advisor Anthony Blinken has promised, “President Biden will show up and engage ASEAN on critical issues.” More diplomacy doesn’t necessarily promise more effectiveness, but it will ensure that U.S. policy is more cogently formulated and reliably telegraphed to Southeast Asian capitals.

Mr. Strangio further said, a Biden administration would continue to depict China not just as an authoritarian superpower (which it is), but also as a global threat to the very idea of freedom itself. It would frame competition with China in terms of a global battle of ideologies, and, in a rhetorical carry-over from the Trump years, speak of binding together “like-minded” democratic allies in the Indo-Pacific. The first Biden term would likely see a revival of democracy promotion as a core tenet of U.S. foreign policy, on the assumption (not always stated openly) that a more democratic world is both achievable and likely to turn the tide against China.

He said, in Southeast Asia, a putative President Biden, like Trump and Obama before him, will thus face the challenge of pushing a policy of democratic and liberal ends in a region with few democratic or liberal governments. The administration will make advances when it deals with the region pragmatically, and suffer reverses when it pushes liberal values too assiduously. Whatever the impact, a Biden administration’s policy toward China and Southeast Asia will continue to be wrought by longstanding contradictions between liberal means and liberal ends.

Good news for India?

During his address to the Indian Americans on 15 August, Biden had made it clear that if he comes to power, the administration will accord “high priority” to India.

Experts, meanwhile, said India will find a “long-time friend” in Biden, who “will keep the long-term strategic interests” of the India-US relationship in mind.

Nirupama Menon Rao, the former Indian Ambassador to the US thinks, “Biden has always been seen as a steadfast friend, a key ally, of India from his days as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As an institution builder, I believe he will keep the long-term strategic interests of the relationship in mind and he understands the complementarity of these interests and our shared democratic values”.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at The Wilson Center in Washington, said India is getting a “long-time friend” in Biden.

“With President Biden, New Delhi is getting a long-time friend of India who knows the country very well and is a strong supporter of the US-India partnership. Look for him to build on the momentum in bilateral relations from the Trump years, and also look for him to expand the relationship into areas like climate change and clean energy that were neglected during the Trump years,” he said.

Several analysts on Asian affairs believe, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris jointly will work with India with the aim of putting China and its allies in the region under pressure. Moreover, they will nakedly intervene into internal affairs of the Asian nations, with the active collaboration of India.

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