Biden says “America is back” at the top of the table – but is that a good thing? | Foreign Policy of the United States

For most of the world’s diplomats, the foreign policy motto of Joe Biden is “America is back“Not a metaphor.

On global issues from climate change, to non-proliferation and human rights, the United States has been under the Trump administration She collected her papers and pens and left the conference room. Biden won the election and his choice Committed International To lead the foreign policy team, it means there will in fact be someone sitting in an empty chair.

“There is a great deal of relief that we’re going to be more normal in the United States to deal with it,” said Richard Gowan, United Nations director at the International Crisis Group. “It has been a symptom of American diplomacy in the past two years that other countries have really struggled to get a clear picture of the US policies at times on issues like Libya or Yemen.”

One of the clear winners on the world stage after Biden’s victory, Guan said, is the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, who has spent four years struggling to reconcile with Donald Trump To prevent the outgoing president from withdrawing entirely from US participation in and funding of UN agencies.

“Now there’s a lot of talk about Guterres getting ready to come up with a lot of big ideas next year about fighting inequality, accelerating the fight against climate change, and really trying to get the United Nations back at the center of the global conversation.”

What a blanket slogan like “America is back“What has been received around the world will inevitably be Rorschach’s test of what is perceived as the“ real America ”that has been absent for the past four years.

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In liberal democracies in Europe, the public hope and expectations from Biden’s language and behavior is that a restored America includes the best of the past – with an added dose of humility.

“America is back” means something completely different than if George W. Bush said it, or even if Obama said it in context, “said Konstanz Stilzenmüller, Senior Fellow at the Center for the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. . And that means this is a different kind of America – no Greedy America first at any costBut it is an evaluation that makes a sober assessment of his options and the limits of his authority. “

The apparent lack of American popular support for venturing in external support – which Trump has effectively directed – and the failure in Libya, Yemen, and Syria, The loss of strength and relative prestige during the past four yearsThey suggest that the country returning to the world stage is tortured America.

“I think Obama was still able to assume that America had virtually unlimited power, and thus had sovereign options to make about international engagement, and about the way it deals with authoritarian competitors,” said Stilzenmüller. I think the big difference with this administration will be the superior understanding of the limitations – domestic and foreign. This gives an entirely new value to allies, and it also gives allies a great deal of power. ”

Certain leaders and governments have clearly been quite happy with the America that was evident in the Trump era – no more than the Gulf monarchs and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They are now advocating a common cause to try to prevent the United States from returning to pre-Trump policies, especially 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

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“Many of these regimes were very fond of the Trump administration, for a variety of reasons,” said Khaled El-Gendy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. “Obviously, the attitude toward Iran is one issue, but also the kind of non-interference attitude toward human rights and the rule of law is another reason that I think a lot of these autocrats in particular will really miss the Donald Trump era.”

It is not just authoritarian regimes in the world that fear the slogan “America is back.” For some critics Foreign Policy of the United StatesThe idea of ​​a golden age that the next administration can return to, is an illusion.

For those skeptics, much will depend on whether Biden’s foreign policy team, familiar faces from the Obama era, will aspire to a restoration or a radical rethink.

“I think the big question – given that Biden is remaking the Obama squad together – did they learn anything from the previous eight years they were in power, which were not an amazing success in many respects?” Asked Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at Harvard Kennedy School.

“Have they gained a greater sense of realism about what US foreign policy can accomplish and what American power can do?”

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