Rabat – Four former US ambassadors to Morocco have signed a letter written by Middle East experts and former diplomats endorsing the candidacy of Joe Biden. Published October 8, the letter shows the exasperation many former US diplomats feel after four years of US President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
Within those four years, the Trump administration has managed to cosy up with some of the world’s most notorious strongmen, introduced punishing sanctions on Middle Eastern countries in crisis, and used foreign policy as a means for national campaigning.
Amidst the chaos of Trump’s foreign policy moves, diplomats of previous Republican and Democratic administrations have joined together to urge a renewed focus on diplomacy and civil society engagement, seeing a Biden presidency as a means to reverse the damage done in the last four years.
Four former US ambassadors to Morocco signed the letter. Signatories include Frederick Vreeland, who served as ambassador in Rabat between 1951 and 1985, Edward M. Gabriel, US ambassador to Morocco from 1997 to 2001, and two Obama-era ambassadors, Samuel L. Kaplan and Dwight Bush.
Diplomats endorse Biden
With exactly three weeks left until election day, Morocco World News spoke to Edward M. Gabriel, who was the ambassador to Morocco during the Clinton administration. Gabriel elaborated on the foreign policy motivations for the signers’ support for Joe Biden.
The letter pulls no punches in its endorsement. It decries the loss of trust between the US and much of the international community. In no uncertain terms the letter accuses the Trump administration of alienating allies, emboldening adversaries, and empowering human rights abusers.
The ambassadors and experts who joined in see Joe Biden as an alternative who can “advance America’s national security interests, promote the rule of law, and protect minorities and human rights at home and in the MENA region.”
To the authors and signatories, the Democratic candidate is an experienced diplomat who can move away from the “inflammatory rhetoric and actions” they witnessed in the past four years. In contrast to Trump’s embrace of ”abusive rulers” and promotion of “policies that undermine American national security,” they consider Biden as a leader who can defend and advance human rights worldwide.
“He will develop international consensus with our traditional allies on policies affecting the Middle East region and work in concert with our allies rather than the go-it-alone attitude of the president,” Gabriel told MWN.
Experience and dignity
The letter takes Lebanon as an example. Under a Biden administration the US would work with local civil society and citizens in pursuing reform that truly benefits the Lebanese public. Together, the ambassadors and experts expect Biden to “develop and implement an economic and political future for their country that is free of corruption, and which reflects the will of its people.”
The authors and signers see Biden as the candidate to assist countries struggling with large numbers of refugees such as Lebanon and Jordan. Biden, they argue, would assist in the reconstruction of Beirut’s port and support the Lebanese army as an “essential pillar of stability.”
In regard to Palestine and Israel, the experts and ambassadors consider Biden to value civilians of both nations equally. They point to the candidate’s pledge to support a two-state solution and expect him to follow through on his campaign promise to oppose unilateral steps that would threaten this. They also endorse Biden’s stated opposition to annexation or the building of new settlements in the occupied territories.
Former Ambassador Gabriel lamented the Trump administration’s policies. “From the Muslim ban to cozying up to authoritarian dictators, Trump’s foreign policy record has been atrocious,” he told MWN. As part of the group of ambassadors and experts who had signed the Biden endorsement letter, he expressed frustration with Trump’s “threats and derogatory words and actions.”
In contrast to Trump’s policies, the signatories see Biden taking rapid action to rescind the Muslim ban, engage with Middle Eastern civil society, and enhance cultural and educational exchange programs. The signers hope Biden will work together with Republicans on foreign policy and develop a consensus with allies in the region.
“Anti-Arab bigotry has been used in attempts to exclude, silence, and marginalize an entire community,” Gabriel told MWN. “We know that Joe Biden believes it must be rejected whenever it surfaces, including when it emanates from elected officials or those seeking public office.”
To Gabriel, a Biden administration would see a halt in US support for the war in Yemen, assistance to “reform” Lebanon, and the US rejoining the “Iran Nuclear Deal.” For Palestine, the former ambassador sees Biden as someone who is “trusted and has the confidence of both sides.” He envisions Biden promoting Palestinians’ “freedom, security, prosperity and democracy.”
The support of former ambassadors and experts comes from a belief in Biden’s ability to bring back what they consider to be a “balanced and thoughtful approach to foreign policy.” Similar to how many expect Biden’s domestic policies to play out, the authors and signers see him as the candidate who could reverse Trump’s approach.
Alignment with Morocco
Former Ambassador Gabriel sees Joe Biden’s values as closely aligned with those of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. Under a Biden administration Gabriel sees Morocco and the US enjoying a “warmer and productive relationship.”
Regarding the issue of Western Sahara, Gabriel sees Biden’s administration returning to the “constructive relations” that Morocco enjoyed with the administrations of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Should the US elect Biden in November, Gabriel urged Moroccan diplomats to raise the issue soon. “A future bilateral relationship between Morocco and a Biden administration will depend on how the two countries engage on issues of mutual concern in the first year of a new administration.”
With 21 days to go until the election, the ambassadors and Middle East experts endorsing Biden are calling for a return to decency in US diplomatic endeavors. Their letter expresses belief in Biden’s “integrity, knowledge, and understanding” to achieve regional aspirations for stability, security, prosperity, and justice.