While Biden is not likely to be so crude, don’t be surprised if he at times takes a more forceful position toward both allies and adversaries than he did when he served as Barack Obama’s vice president.
The obvious top target for this tone is an adversary China, which itself has taken a more bellicose attitude toward the United States in recent months.
Unlike Trump, Biden probably won’t use terms like “China virus,” which have offended many Asians amid the coronavirus pandemic. But he appears to have laid aside his past hopes that increased global engagement would nudge China toward democracy. Biden once said “a rising China is a positive, positive development, not only for China but for America and the world writ large.” More recently, he’s called Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “thug,” accused China’s leaders of committing genocide against Uighur Muslims and pledged to rally countries to hold China accountable for its economic “cheating.”
Biden also is likely to keep up the pressure on allies, including Germany, when it comes to defense spending. Obama’s first Defense secretary, Robert Gates, bluntly warned NATO in a 2011 speech of “the real possibility for a dim, if not dismal future for the trans-Atlantic alliance.” U.S. pressure led to a 2014 deal in which NATO members agreed to strive for the goal of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024.