WASHINGTON – On its way out the door, the Trump administration is enacting new rules, regulations and orders that it hopes will box in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration on numerous foreign policy matters and cement President Donald Trump’s “America First” legacy in international affairs.
Yet, the push may not work, as many of these decisions can be withdrawn or significantly amended by the incoming president when he takes office on Jan. 20.
In recent weeks, the White House, State Department and other agencies have been working overtime to produce new policy pronouncements on Iran, Israel, China and elsewhere that aim to lock in Trump's vision for the world. Some have attracted significant attention while others have flown largely under the radar.
And, while Biden could reverse many of them with a stroke of the pen, some will demand the time and attention of his administration when it comes into power with a host of other priorities that perhaps need more urgent attention.
The most recent of these moves took place this past week as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made what may be his last visit to Israel as secretary of state and delivered two announcements in support of Israel's claims to territory claimed by the Palestinians.
Biden's team has remained silent about these announcements, but Biden has made clear he supports few, if any, of them and will reverse many as he intends to return to a more traditional policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.
The Trump administration’s determined efforts to thwart potential Biden policy reversals actually began months earlier, half a world away from the Jewish state, with China, even before the former vice president was formally declared the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.
As opinion polls started to show Biden as a clear favorite to beat Trump in November, the administration began to move even as the president maintained a public face of defiance and absolute confidence in his reelection.