“Neither Trump nor Biden is a reliable realist on foreign policy, but neither one has the standard record of a hawk, either.”
This is really grasping at straws here. Based on my observations of how the neocons have responded to the present political situations, it seems the neocons have effectively colonized both parties/campaigns at this point with the Podhoretz clan/associates working the Republican angle and the Kristol clan/associates working the Democratic angle. Elliot Abrams, Norman’s and Midge’s actual son-in-law, is now essentially running Trump’s Iran policy. Even as Bolton was being shown the back door, Abrams was being brought in through the front door. And the “Biden” campaign is really a Harris campaign, with Harris being a protege of Kristol-ally Hillary.
Early on in Trump’s administration, it seemed like he was bypassing the Republican party establishment while gaining the backing of realists and trade deficit hawks within the wider national security milieu, like the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who seem to recognize the neocon/liberal internationalist foreign policy paradigm is unsustainable. That’s the direction Trump was headed early on, which is why you see him with Kissinger in some early presidential videos, and why Tillerson was his initial Sec of State. Both of them are affiliated with CSIS. But he’s jettisoned many of those people now that he feels he no longer needs them and is trying to appeal to the conventional Republic Party to a greater degree.
There was an article by Pepe Escobar, a Marxist journalist, in the Chinese press that came out when Trump first took office, and which explains some of this. What Escobar describes is the national security faction that seemed to be behind Trump at the time, although he has obviously become more accommodating to the neocons and neoliberal Republicans as his administration progresses. The view of this national security sector appears to be that the US has become too dependent on China for military manufacturing (that’s been an issue in the Trump administration) and debt financing, and thinks the trade deficit and the impact of globalization are destabilizing the US (which it is). They also want to prevent an alliance between the BRICS and the Global South against “Atlanticism” (the Duginist geopolitical framework) from forming and curb Chinese economic expansionism into Central Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the South Pacific.
Also, this recent article from CSIS delves into some of this a bit. CSIS seems to be among the leading proponents of the China hawk position.
By Gil Barndollar, The American Conservative
Grappling with a pandemic, recession, and nationwide protests, most Americans are understandably focused on their own country as they prepare to vote. Foreign policy ranked a distant sixth among the top concerns of registered voters, according to an August survey by the Pew Research Center. In the wake of President Trump’s hospitalization for COVID-19, it is unclear whether the American people will even have the chance to see the two presidential candidates debate foreign policy face-to-face. Few seem to care.