Biden’s massive reset you probably don’t even know is happening
The United States is at the center of the most important strategic change in its foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Why is this a secret?
It marks a generational shift in how the United States views its national interests in the world and its role in the world.
The magnitude of the change in the way the United States approaches its national interests in the world and its role in the world is so great that it affects virtually every aspect of American policy abroad and at home. Unlike the change that took place after September 11, it is not responsive or closely linked to developments in any one region of the world. It is truly strategic, based on the recognition of radical global changes and the anticipation of the consequences of the major trends which are reshaping the world.
Key elements of it have been in the works for years, but despite the great importance of the changes taking place, many people don’t even know this change is happening. The Biden administration has a compelling new vision for America’s place in the world, but so far it has encountered significant obstacles in sharing a compelling story about this vision that has been widely heard and understood by the people. American.
Many elements of this policy transformation have received coverage, but it has tended to be driven by breaking news, without the context to see the whole that the parts fit into. One example is that in the past six weeks, the United States not only emerged from the longest war in our history, but also ended the post-9/11 era of American foreign policy. The chapter in the history of US international affairs that included the global war on terror and its failures, abuses, opportunity costs, loss of life and damage to America’s reputation has finally been years closed. too late.
Also ended a period of centrality of the Middle East to US foreign policy priorities, a period that began long before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. No longer dependent on foreign oil as we once were, no longer competing with the Soviets for primacy in one of the world’s strategic resource centers, and no longer mistakenly presenting Islamist terror as the greatest threat for the United States, we could give our involvement in the more appropriate weight of the region. We could focus on bigger and bigger challenges, from China’s rise to the climate crisis, next-generation security threats like those associated with cyberconflict and automated warfare to figure out how to restore U.S. strength from there. interior, to restore and reinvent international institutions to do the same with our global network of alliances. Headlines from the past six weeks have told the story of individual elements of this change. But the stories of our withdrawal from Afghanistan have focused more on the challenges faced during the exit itself than on its historical context.
While the redefinition of the President’s strategic priorities was clearly illustrated by a first summit between Quad leaders, the United States, Japan, Australia and India, the central strategic partnership we have to counter the Growing Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific region, the event received limited coverage. Instead, a parallel US effort to build capacity in Asia-Pacific – the launch of the AUKUS partnership between the US, UK, and Australia – received coverage primarily because a related sale of US nuclear submarines to Australia sparked a diplomatic conflict. kerfuffle with the French who hoped to sell their Down Under submarines. The fact that these events were programmed in part to act as a counterpoint to the exit from Afghanistan, a sign of our new priorities, was not mentioned anywhere.
Likewise, the President’s efforts to invest trillions in US infrastructure and in the vital engines of the US economy have been expressed in purely national terms. They were not contrasted, as they should have been, with efforts to prioritize the spending of trillions over the past two decades over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or the creation of even greater wealth. for America’s richest people and businesses. They were not viewed as investments in US capability comparable to Eisenhower’s investment in the US highway system for national security reasons at the start of the Cold War. They were not presented as vital measures to ensure that infrastructure is resilient against next generation cyber attacks or the adverse effects of extreme weather and other consequences of the climate crisis.
And they have rarely been seen as measures to ensure that we are more competitive with the rising powers of tomorrow like China, even as the president has repeatedly emphasized this from his first speech in Congress until his remarks this week. . But of course, building a new American economy for the 21st century is the raison d’être for investing in research and development, education, and green technologies.
We don’t put the pieces together. Yes, it is noted that Biden overturned Trump’s policies like the withdrawal of international institutions from the WHO to the Paris climate accords to the Iran nuclear deal. But the re-engagement went further with work to advance new multilateral climate initiatives, a new effort to tackle the current pandemic and prepare for upcoming outbreaks, systematic talks with key allies to stem the spread of technology. that endanger us like the 5G technologies sold by the Chinese Huawei, as well as to forge and prioritize new alliances.
These developments are dealt with piecemeal when properly understood as part of something bigger: a plan, a vision for the next era of American world leadership. But we should not be surprised at these developments or their scale. Biden framed them on the campaign trail in speeches and articles such as “Why America Must Lead Again,” and as president starting with his first speech to a joint session of Congress, much of which was aimed at to refocus on the challenges posed by an emerging China. .
Secretary of State Antony Blinken covered these points as well as a shift towards an American foreign policy that avoided the arbitrariness of American exceptionalism and made the United States a better ally in the major speech he delivered in March. The changes in Asia-Pacific and as it relates to China were anticipated in a 2019 article written by Jake Sullivan, now Biden’s national security adviser, and Kurt Campbell, now Asia Tsar at the NSC, titled “Competition without catastrophe ”. Even the links between foreign policy and national priorities were highlighted in a study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace titled “Making US Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class” – the product of a study group to which Sullivan participated.
Why is the message not getting through? There are several reasons. One is that the media continues to prioritize conflicts and disasters, making money through clicks and ratings. As a result, the food fight in Washington takes precedence in cases like the current budget battle over the strategy behind the Biden Plan or its longer-term consequences. Likewise, two weeks of chaos in Afghanistan was apparently a bigger story than the impact of ending 20 years of futile and reckless warfare.
However, part of the responsibility lies with the administration. Part of this is for very good reasons – they are focused on getting the job done and they have been very busy and very understaffed due to GOP obstructionism blocking confirmations from the majority of all appointments. you Biden’s superiors in national security. However, part of it has to do with what a former senior communications official in a Democratic administration described as a problem of “too many press secretaries and not enough communications strategists.” In other words, as good as administration spokespersons like Jen Psaki in the White House and Ned Price in the State Department are, they mostly focus on tackling the daily fires, not transmission. more important strategic messages. (Again, the press plays a big role in this.)
This is something that should be addressed by the Biden team. A big change is underway, a long-awaited and profoundly important change. The president and his team deserve it. This explains many of their actions. And by presenting developments as part of a larger plan, the administration is also likely to gain the reputation and influence that these skills and leadership bring.
For now, this great story is largely lost. The American people and the world deserve to hear it.