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“America first” with a twist?

Biden has signaled that the United States will focus on diplomacy abroad

As US foreign policy rescheduled, President Joe Biden said he would halt the withdrawal of US troops to Germany, end support for Saudi Arabia’s military offensive in Yemen, and make support for LGBTQ rights a cornerstone of diplomacy. (February 4)


WASHINGTON – Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, recently mentioned the usual suspects when asked to list the most serious threats facing the United States today: China, Iran, Russia.

Moments later, President Joe Biden̵

7;s national security adviser offered a completely different answer to the same question.

“Currently, the deepest challenge to national security facing the United States is to tidy up our own house, is internal renewal,” Jake Sullivan said at the Baton Surrender Forum hosted by the American Institute of Peace late last year. month.

Sullivan’s response signaled that the Biden administration’s approach to foreign policy would recognize the attractiveness of former President Donald Trump’s “America First” platform, even if they reject any comparisons.

Sullivan says that in order to restore American global power, the United States must begin by tackling the pandemic, tackling racial and economic inequalities, and strengthening the battered American economy with huge investments in technology and infrastructure.

“Populist tint” of foreign policy

If it sounds more like domestic policy than foreign policy, it’s no coincidence that Biden’s adviser believes the two are inextricably linked.

“Everything we do in our foreign policy and national security will be measured by a key indicator: will it make life better, safer and easier for working families?” Sullivan said during a press briefing in White. home on February 4th.

This is a lofty promise of reverence for reality: Americans feel deeply disconnected and often betrayed by foreign policymakers in Washington – especially free trade policies that have belittled American manufacturing cities.

In many states in the Midwest, Trump has outraged voters with his tough talks about China and his promises of a “America First” foreign policy that has called for a withdrawal from “endless wars” and other global commitments.

“President Trump was right about the divorce between the American foreign elite and the average American,” said Kenneth Weinstein, a fellow at the Hudson Institute Conservative think tank.

The Biden administration, which calls its approach “foreign policy for the middle class,” is trying to give a “populist tinge” to democratic foreign policy ideals, Weinstein said.

Weinstein says the center of Trump’s approach is a demand for reciprocity from allies, and this has struck American voters, which the Biden administration cannot afford to ignore.

In fact, of course, many critics saw Trump’s foreign policy as destructive – noting that he was alienating allies. and undermined confidence in the United States.

Jen Psaki, Biden’s chief spokesman, bristled at any comparison between Trump and Biden on world affairs.

“I can assure you that this president … does not see the last presidency as a model for his foreign policy,” Psaki said earlier this month when asked to explain “the administration’s foreign policy to the middle class.”

Biden’s approach “embraces Trump’s most important understanding – that the goal of American foreign policy is to improve the lives of Americans – while rejecting Trump’s divisive nationalism on international trade and American alliances,” said Edward Alden, a global trade expert with the Council. on foreign relations, writes a recent foreign policy magazine.

Biden began reversing some of Trump’s most controversial foreign policy decisions – joining the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Agreement, for example – and vowed to restore America’s position as a world leader.

How the American people treat his reputation

As for U.S. military commitments, Biden will have to balance what he sees as America’s national security interests with skepticism among the American public about external conflicts, said Nick Gvosdev, a professor of national security at the American Naval College.

Americans are insulting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and public opinion is divided over whether the United States should be involved in nation-building in those countries.

Exceptional: US counter-terrorism efforts have affected 85 countries in the last three years alone

“They’re on two minds,” said Fran Stewart, an Ohio researcher who interviewed business owners, veterans and government officials as part of a study of how middle-class Americans view U.S. foreign policy.

“On the one hand, they don’t appreciate going into endless costly wars because … in Ohio we have a lot of families who have been sent to serve there,” she said. They believe that “there is a high price to pay for decisions made elsewhere, not in Ohio.”

On the other hand, she said, “they are very sensitive when people start talking about cutting defense spending because they know that it can ultimately affect their own communities, their own work.”

Air Force veteran Mike Fitzgerald is standing near an anti-war protest in front of the Federal Courthouse in St. Louis.

Air Force veteran Mike Fitzgerald is standing near an anti-war protest in front of the Federal Courthouse in St. Louis.
David Carson, AP

Military service and jobs in the Ohio defense industry have been a major force in feeding the state’s middle class, said Edward Hill, a professor of economic development at Ohio State University who worked with Stewart and Sullivan, a national adviser. Biden’s security, according to a study led by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Many previous presidents have similarly torn between campaign promises to bring US troops home and fears that the United States will remain vulnerable to attack, said Gvosdev, who is also a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council, a think tank in New York.

MILITARY EMPIRE: The United States has thousands of troops abroad. With the rise of non-military threats, is this the best defense?

Biden has already paused Trump’s order to withdraw thousands of troops from Germany, seen as a test against Russian aggression.

The idea of ​​the Biden administration is to reorient America’s role in the world from “being the global cop in the rhythm” to using America’s position in the world to generate “concrete benefits” for American communities, Gvosdev said.

Polls consistently show that Americans are far more concerned about imminent threats to their physical and economic security than about thorny tribal conflicts, ruthless dictators, or a number of other problems abroad.

But that doesn’t mean Americans are isolationists.

  • 69% respondents said the United States should take a “leading” or “primary” role in trying to solve international problems, according to a Gallup poll in February 2019.
  • 63% Americans believe it is important for the United States to be number one in the world militarily, according to a February 2020 Gallup poll.

Yet there is a mismatch between what Americans see as the most urgent threats facing the country – and what Washington scholars and experts see as the most important national security concerns.

  • 69% Americans believe that terrorism is a major threat to the United States compared to mere 14% of experts in international relations
  • In contrast, 88% experts say climate change is a major threat compared to 62% of the Americans.

“I think foreign policy is often practiced with the idea that if it’s good for the nation, it will eventually be good for the communities,” Hill said.

But this has not been confirmed – especially in terms of trade policy, which has benefited many American corporations but devastated working families. Hill said the assumption needed to be changed.

“If it’s good for communities across the country, then the country will benefit,” he said.

Compete with China by focusing closer to home

Nearly a billion people in China were online by the end of 2020. The country could be Apple's fastest-growing market in the world if it even had moderate success in gaining a share there.

Nearly a billion people in China were online by the end of 2020. The country could be Apple’s fastest-growing market in the world if it even had moderate success in gaining a share there.
Yongyuan Dai / Getty images

Nowhere will the Biden administration’s approach be more important than in relations with China. Lawmakers on both sides see China’s economic, military and technological ambitions as the most urgent threat to national security facing the United States.

Biden argues that the United States cannot compete with China (or oppose Russia and other adversaries) if the American economy is torn apart, democracy is in disarray, and infrastructure is in disrepair.

Take, for example, the pandemic that revealed global dependence on China for basic medical supplies such as masks and other personal protective equipment.

Timothy Burga, president of the AFL-CIO in Ohio, said the pandemic had made foreign policy even more relevant in Ohio and other countries affected by years of globalization, where communities were devastated by erosion of US manufacturing facilities and predatory trade of China practices.

“We don’t have the ability to make our own personal protective equipment here. It’s a matter of national security,” Burgas said, referring to masks, dresses and other medical protective clothing that U.S. healthcare providers had to import from China during the coronavirus pandemic. .

During a meeting with infrastructure lawmakers on Feb. 11, Biden noted that China was already ahead of the United States in investing in key technologies such as high-speed rail and electric vehicles.

“If we don’t move, they will eat our lunch,” Biden told China. “We just need to get stronger.”

Biden informed about the new working group DOD China

President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced plans to review the Pentagon’s national security strategy for China as part of his efforts to calibrate the US approach with Beijing. (February 10)




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