Four big foreign policy events happened recently.

1) Serbia and Kosovo signed an economic normalization agreement.

2) The Taliban and Afghan governments started peace talks.

3) Israel and the UAE normalized ties.

4) Bahrain and Israel normalized ties.

There was definitely some White House electioneering going on, but this is politics. To think there isn’t, or to discard meaningful accomplishments because of electioneering, is naive.

In all of these actions, the participants will drive meaning or its absence. Details, treaty obligations, and suchlike can be changed and implemented or not at the discretion of those participants. Even if a paper says ‘A will do this’ there’s not much obligation for A to do this. People can try to write more things on the paper to make it certain, but it’s still just a paper.

On the other hand, this is the human race. Take the wins you can get. If you want people to stop smoking and you get ten people to sign pieces of paper that say they’re going to stop smoking, you take the one or two or might stick through it. At the very least, most of the other eight or nine might stop for a while, and that’s a short win too.

Either Trump or Biden administrations, as well as following administrations, will have to push things, keep up pressure, and yet not overdo the pressure so participants don’t defy the treaties and agreements to thumb their noses at the US.

Where I’m going is, these are accomplishments, but they just open the door to more work. We need to set our expectations to one or two becoming meaningful after a lot of work and a long time. But if one or two turn into something meaningful, that’s more than zero. Consider it cautious, low expectation optimism.

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