It's Time for Biden to Get Out of the 'Defensive Crouch'
If Biden continues on his current course, his foreign policy will be remembered mostly as a series of missed opportunities.
Emma Ashford makes the case that Biden should do more to challenge and break from the foreign policy status quo. She acknowledges that he did this with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, but he hasn’t done it anywhere else:
Yet that bold decision—to defy his critics and bring an end to the longest war in U.S. history—was an aberration in Biden’s first year in office. Instead, his administration has pursued a foreign policy that is unclear on core issues. It swings between suggestions that foreign policy isn’t that important and peppy declarations that U.S. global leadership is back; between the idea that the United States faces a historic challenge from China and a process-driven desire to stay the course in all regions; between the notion that the United States must adapt to a rapidly shifting strategic environment and a nostalgic longing for the pre–Donald Trump status quo in U.S. foreign policy.
Ashford is right about all this, and it lines up with how I have judged Biden’s first year as president. As both of us would agree, Biden was never going to usher in radical change in U.S. foreign policy. He is too much of a conventional politician and too much of a fixture in the foreign policy establishment for him to oversee a major overhaul of the U.S. role in the world, but he did lead his voters to expect that there would be some meaningful changes early on in what the U.S. was doing in the world. Unfortunately, much of what we have seen has amounted to sticking with the status quo no matter how destructive these policies may be.