In late 2020, Mansfield Foundation President and CEO Frank Jannuzi wrote a series of articles for the Ritsumeikan University Center for East Asian Peace and Cooperation Studies.
Covering a range of topics including U.S.-China relations, the Korean Peninsula, and climate change, Mr. Jannuzi concluded the Washington Report series with a look at how Mike Mansfield influenced Joe Biden’s early political career, and the lessons Mansfield imparted on the young senator from Delaware. Mr. Jannuzi argues that Mansfield instilled a strong consideration of U.S. allies and the importance of building partnerships in accomplishing shared goals, lessons that particularly apply to foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific:
This fundamental respect for alliance partners would likely translate into expedited efforts by Biden to resolve the issue of Seoul’s financial support for the basing of U.S. forces in South Korea. The same spirit would apply to negotiations with Japan, not only for host nation support, but also for base realignment on Okinawa. President Biden would not treat these negotiations as opportunities to profit, but rather, as talks between friends on how best to fulfil mutual obligations and ensure close coordination on mutual interests.
As to the overall ideological framework for U.S. engagement in the Indo-Pacific, Biden is from the “realist” school of foreign policy. He harbors no illusions about China’s sometimes revisionist or irredentist instincts. But when it comes to the possibility of a new cold war, Biden advisers have said they don’t want to see a race to the bottom. The United States must find a way both to compete with China – for markets, for friends, for security partners – and to cooperate with China – especially on two issues of vital consequence: climate change and peace on the Korean Peninsula.