Why Joe Biden is so invested in defending the Good Friday deal | American foreign policy

Joe Biden’s commitment to championing the Good Friday deal is rooted in his political history and his identity. But it’s also a mainstay of US foreign policy, a rare matter of bipartisan consensus in an otherwise hyper-polarized political scene, one of the few positions Biden can take on the world stage without incurring the wrath of Republicans. .

Biden’s emotional attachment to Ireland has been constant throughout his adult life and is part of his political identity as well. He regularly refers to his mother’s family history and her connection to County Mayo. He quotes Irish poets and uses the example of British rule in Ireland as a bridge to sympathize with persecuted minorities.

After winning the election in November, the BBC’s Nick Bryant asked if he had “a little word” for the British broadcaster. “The BBC? Replied the president. “I am Irish.”

At his first full press conference as president in March, he recalled that his great-grandfather had been forced to leave Ireland “because of what the British had done”.

Biden considers his contributions to peace in Ireland an important part of his legacy. He was part of a group of senators in the 1980s who began pushing for greater U.S. diplomatic involvement to end the conflict. From his seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he helped push the Clinton administration to commit resources and political capital to negotiate the deal in 1998.

By insisting that an international treaty be honored, Biden seeks to restore the rule of law to the heart of U.S. foreign policy, which was arguably seen as optional by his predecessor.

Unlike the Iran nuclear deal, the Good Friday deal is not seen as a purely democratic achievement. George W Bush also continued its implementation during his presidency. Even under the Trump administration, US special envoy Mick Mulvaney was dispatched to warn Brexiters of the risk of creating a hard border “by accident” on the island of Ireland.

When Democrat Bob Menendez and Republican Susan Collins sponsored a Senate resolution in March reaffirming bipartisan support for the deal, it won unanimous support.

“The inclusive power-sharing system established by the Good Friday Agreement was a historic achievement that established a framework for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland,” Collins said at the time. “Our resolution encourages all parties to continue working towards the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, as well as subsequent agreements that promote peace and stability on the island of Ireland.”

Democrats and Republicans from the Friends of Ireland group in Congress have repeatedly signaled that the UK will have no hope of securing a free trade deal with the US if Brexit and tampering of the Brexit deal endangered the Irish peace.

Brendan Boyle, Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania and leading member of the Friends of Ireland group, told The Guardian: “This is a very partisan time in American politics, and there are very few issues, very few, that are. truly bipartisan. The defense of the Good Friday Agreement and the preservation of peace on the island of Ireland are part of it.

“And it’s not just among the elect. If you were to survey foreign policy and national security experts, whether they belong to left or right think tanks, you would find the same consensus. Frankly, it’s just not a divisive issue in the United States. It is all good. What Boris Johnson’s government is doing in handling the Brexit negotiations is really isolating Britain from all of its traditional allies. “

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