Winning is a big reward and a heavy burden. A big reward because it relieves you of feelings of loss and defeat; and a heavy burden because the obvious question arises about what you will do with this victory and how you will make a safe landing.
Joe Biden has the right to blame his luck for the timing of his victory. He had long wanted to win the big prize. He tried twice to get close to it, but the voters sided with others. He did not abandon the race. Dreaming of power is a chronic disease.
Biden’s personal life has never been easy. Fate obstructed his path and hit him at more than one turn. His first wife and daughter. Then his son. He has enough personal pains to despair, but he maintained ordinary hope without being overly stubborn.
In Congress, as in the administration, he was good at coexistence, respecting his role in the second row, without being constantly preoccupied with the owner of the first position. In Congress, in committees, and in his role as Vice President, he had to deal with files, facts, policies, interactions, and mischief.
He worked actively without being the man who hits the table with his fist. He maintained patience, hoping that his hour would come. Here it was, while he was three steps away from 80.
For nearly five decades and through his position in Congress or the administration, Biden witnessed the succession of eras, the divergence of policies, the American divisions at home, and fluctuations abroad.
He saw America leaving Vietnam drenched with defeat, then launch an arms race to drain the Soviet Union. He saw it trying to spill the blood of the Red Army on the rocks of Afghanistan. He witnessed America’s demographic, cultural, economic, and technological transformations, as well as its variability with the outside world.
Biden watched the Berlin Wall collapse and the Soviet Union disappear. He heard the world talk about the “only superpower”, and saw NATO move its “revolutions” and pawns toward the borders of the Russian Federation, which emerged as an orphan from the Soviet rubble. Biden was engaged in partisan and political work when the Middle East was writhing in the wake of Iranian explosions and confrontational adventures, and when Al Qaeda moved the war into American soil, which prompted the most powerful military machine in history to embark on a disciplinary campaign that eliminated the regimes of Taliban and Saddam Hussein.
After this long wait, amid the internal and external changes, Biden has no right to complain about his luck in recent years. Had Hillary Clinton win the elections four years ago, Biden would not have been preparing to move to the White House. We know that gifts of fortune are not enough and that a person must take advantage of opportunities when they arise. In this context, Biden knew how to act. He has created a moderate position for himself that was approved by the different currents within the Democratic Party. He chose the midpoint or the nearest point to it, presenting himself as the person who is able to ensure the convergence of various energies to deprive Donald Trump of extending his stay in the White House.
Biden succeeded in suggesting that he was the best option for his party, which had to choose between walking with him or spending another difficult four years under Trump. The truth is that Biden received an unexpected gift, without having any role in it. The Coronavirus pandemic has swept the world and surprised everyone, without exception. Only weeks later, it became clear that the epidemic was more dangerous than people initially thought, and the world drowned in a series of human and economic losses, in which the United States had a considerable share.
The development was totally catastrophic for the master of the White House. Trump had hoped to provide the voters with economic figures that show that America has regained its rights, prosperity, and greatness; but Covid-19 plunged the economy, the country, and the people into loss, depression, and despair. Difficulties facing Trump were compounded by the failure of laboratories to quickly develop a vaccine that would get the world out of the grip of the Coronavirus. People criticized his approach in dealing with the pandemic even when it forced him to stay in the hospital bed for some time.
America and the world were dragged into a harsh and long duel between Trump and Biden. Two men from two competing parties, two different dictionaries, two contrasting styles. Trump emerged as a storm that blew over America, while Biden seemed a patient heir to Washington’s traditions and institutions. He can make mistakes and correct them without being tempted by blatant and no-return options.
When Biden opens the world map at the White House, he will discover that he is the president of an America that has changed in a world of transformations. Trump’s impact on US politics was not ephemeral. The votes he won against Biden are proof. It is not easy to remove the “Trump effect” that many talk about, especially as it revealed deep rifts within American society.
America has changed, so did the world. How will Biden deal with the “Chinese rise” or the “Chinese threat” that worried Trump? How will he deal with Vladimir Putin, who goes to the elections and returns with medals, not wounds? How will he manage his relations with Europe, which was weakened by the pandemic and afflicted by the “British betrayal”?
How will he deal with the Middle East, the destabilization policies, the nuclear dreams, and mercenaries’ excursions between near and far fires? The Middle East has changed too. The Iranian penetrations do not show a sign of stability, but rather confrontation projects. The Turkish role is greater than the ability of the region and its neighborhood to bear. The Arab-Israeli scene has witnessed fundamental changes in the recent period. The GCC countries have learned lessons from their previous experiences with policies and administrations.
The world is different from the window of the White House. Interests have a crucial say in any calm reading of future relationships. We must wait to see the features of a post-Trump America.