“(Biden) apparently has had close relations with (Benjamin) Netanyahu. I imagine however that his administration will try to play a somewhat more even-handed role in promoting peace and reconciliation with Palestinians,” Stephen Macedo told IQNA in an interview.
Macedo is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics at Princeton University, as well as the former Director for the University Center for Human Values at Princeton. He earned his BA at the College of William and Mary, Master's degrees at the London School of Economics and Oxford University, and his MA and PhD at Princeton University. He was an early member of the Oxford Hayek Society.
IQNA: Contrary to expectations, Donald Trump lost the US presidential election. What do you think was Trump's biggest mistake in this election?
Macedo: First, the polls have certainly had Biden up for some months, so Trump's loss was not a surprise. In fact, he did better than polls predicted. The single biggest factor seems to have been his poor handling of the COVID epidemic. He decided to put himself front and center in many briefings and made ridiculous and distracting comments.
Most important for many voters may have been the economic turmoil that has resulted. Even so, most voters still reported that they are better off than four years ago, and in general, his handling of the economy is the thing voters give him most credit for.
There is no doubt that many people are appalled by Trump's demeanor and norm violations. He is his own worst enemy, and has decided to govern in an extremely divisive and disruptive manner.
IQNA: Some experts believe that actions such as banning Muslims from traveling to the United States and Trump's insulting remarks about America's racial minorities have created an alliance to defeat him. How true do you think this is?
Macedo: I have not seen the post election polling on this, but I am sure that many Democratic and independent voters have been outraged by his divisive comments and actions on race and religion. However, it’s also important to note that his support seems to have increased a bit among Latino Americans – especially Cuban Americans apparently – but also African American males. People's identities are complicated. Not all minority group members identify strongly with the group.
IQNA: Joe Biden has expressed a desire to use Muslims in his government. What are the biggest obstacles to the presence of Muslims in US government posts? Do you think this is practical?
Macedo: So far as the Democrats go, but also for many Republicans, I don’t think there is any great obstacle. Muslims make up about 1% of the American population. I believe Muslims already serve in the US Congress and in state and local offices, and their prominence will grow.
IQNA: Trump’s administration has had unprecedented warm relations with Israel. What changes do you think should be expected in US-Israeli relations under Joe Biden? What effect does Biden's election have on Benjamin Netanyahu's precarious situation in Israeli domestic politics?
Macedo: Biden will also be supportive of Israel, and he apparently has had close relations with Netanyahu. I imagine however that his administration will try to play a somewhat more even-handed role in promoting peace and reconciliation with Palestinians.
IQNA: What changes do you think can be expected in the Biden government's foreign policy, especially in the Middle East?
Macedo: He will be much more supportive of international cooperation and multilateral organizations. I imagine that he will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and probably also seek to renew the Iran nuclear deal. And also greater emphasis on human rights and more visible concern about horrible human rights violations such as the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
IQNA: Joe Biden has repeatedly expressed a desire to return to a nuclear deal with Iran. How likely is it that the United States will return to the nuclear deal unconditionally?
Macedo: I don't know about an unconditional return: the status quo has changed. The Republicans are likely to still control the Senate. There is good reason to think that rhetoric will be toned-down and there will be greater constructive engagement from a Biden administration.
Interview by Mohammad Hassan Goodarzi