« America is back » : this simple, optimistic, caricatural slogan accompanied the arrival of Joe Biden at the White House, at the end of January 2021. This ” return “ meant to be repaired. It implied a prior withdrawal, even a form of betrayal, from the traditional role of the United States in world affairs. The Trump era had been marked, it is true, by several significant renunciations and abandonments: the withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement (JCPoA), from that of Paris on the climate, from the World Health Organization ( WHO).
Determined both to ransack the Obama legacy and to trample on a multilateral system deemed outdated and superfluous, Donald Trump had caused the bewilderment of the allied countries, in particular the Europeans. Not feeling bound by any past commitment, the ex-entrepreneur had imposed a purely transactional foreign policy.
This article is taken from “World Report” 2022. The new edition is on sale in newsstands from Monday January 24 or online by visiting the Boutique.Trends Wide.fr website.
Joe Biden, for his part, wanted to rehabilitate the traditional voice and commitments of the United States, take up the language of values and find the path of alliances. With a main country on the horizon of its foreign policy: China. Through its commercial power, its military ambitions, its flash industrialization in defiance of climatic risks, its technological advances, its nationalist aggressiveness in the Indo-Pacific, Beijing finds itself in a situation of competition or tension with Washington. Joe Biden’s top priority is to prepare his country for this rivalry of the present and the future, which is bound to sharpen.
This means abolishing the distinction between domestic and foreign policy. In this there is continuity with his predecessor, Donald Trump, and his « America first ». This is why the Democratic President has often cited China in his arguments in favor of the major infrastructure investment plan (1,200 billion dollars), adopted at the beginning of November in Congress. To modernize America is to better arm it.
“Positions of strength”
Clearly, the new administration has revised America’s priorities in the world. The Middle East and Europe are neglected, Asia concentrates the attention. Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s national security adviser, is one of the president’s most influential thinkers and doers. He likes to quote a phrase from Dean Acheson in foreign policy: “positions of strength”.
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