Amidst the highly divisive political changes in the United States, Joe Biden has taken the White House.
In his inaugural address on Jan. 20, Biden said the world is focused on the domestic crisis in the United States and the options for the future, and the message he wants to send to the world is that “America has survived the test and we are stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world again. Not just to meet the challenges of yesterday, but to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
We will lead the world, not because of the strength we have shown, but because of the example we have set.”
It is easy to see that the issue of values occupies a very important place in the Biden administration’s foreign policy, and it is closely linked to the many challenges facing American domestic democracy.
Last February, in the Foreign Affairs article titled “Why America Must Lead the World Again,” Biden was a harsh critic of Trump’s foreign policy, arguing that Trump has “debased, undermined and, in some cases, abandoned America’s allies and partners …… abandoned U.S. leadership in promoting collective action to address new threats, especially those that are unique in the 21st century.
Most seriously, he is disgusted by the democratic values that empower our nation and bring us together as one.”
For Biden, “democracy is not only the foundation of American society, it is the source of our strength,” and if we want to restore American leadership, we must repair and reinvigorate America’s own democratic institutions and thereby strengthen the world’s “coalition of democracies” ( coalition of democracies” in the world.
Undoubtedly, how we perceive the Biden administration’s values diplomacy is an important window into the direction of U.S. foreign strategy in the coming period.
“Reshaping the American Soul”
The emphasis on values and democratic human rights issues has always been a tradition in the foreign policy of the Democratic Party administration in the United States. Whether as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee or as vice president of the Obama administration, Biden has made political statements about the “promotion of democracy”. However, “old cadres meet new problems”, when he became the master of the White House, the United States’ own democratic institutions have suffered an unprecedented impact, and even Biden’s own legitimacy as president of the United States has become a problem – about 70% of Republican voters still believe in the 2020 election.
Some 70 percent of Republican voters still believe the 2020 election was “stolen.
In his inaugural address, Biden made no secret of the recent “Occupy Capitol Hill” event that hit American democracy hard, and used the event to call on the American people to “treat each other with dignity and respect,” emphasizing the resilience of the U.S. Constitution and democracy. He is well aware that more than 74 million American voters voted for Trump in the 2020 presidential election and that “the forces that divide us are deep and real”. He believes that voters who oppose him have the right to disagree, but that disagreements should not lead to divisions, and that he will be tested by the actual performance of his presidency.
He seeks to redefine America by seeking the greatest common denominator among Americans and emphasizing the values and goals Americans share, including “opportunity, security, freedom, dignity, respect, honor, and truth”.
However, I am afraid that Biden’s wish to “heal” America will not be realized, and it will be difficult to get rid of Trump and the influence of “illiberal populism” he represents. As Brookings Institution fellow Andre M. Perry has said, the extreme values promoted by Trump are not the exception, but reflect the prevailing mood in American society.
Ishaan Tharoor, a prominent commentator for the Washington Post, also believes that Trumpism will continue as a powerful trend in American politics; it represents the future of right-wing politics in the United States and will evolve into an American “Peronism “It is highly mobilizing, divisive, and difficult to disappear.
“Revitalizing domestic democracy” will be one of the primary concerns of the Biden administration after taking office, which is interlinked and integrated with the promotion of the “United Democracies” in the U.S. foreign policy. In the view of the Biden administration, restoring U.S. global leadership requires both an effective response to the crisis of democracy at home and the preservation of democracy at the global level and the promotion of collaboration among democratic countries.
James Traub, a fellow at the Center for the Study of International Cooperation at New York University, argues in an in-depth interview with Biden’s team of foreign policy advisers that
The “Biden Doctrine” guiding the foreign policy of the new U.S. administration already exists, with “free world,” “democracy,” and “leadership” as the main themes of Biden and his advisers.
The Biden Doctrine” already exists, with “free world,” “democracy,” and “leadership” at the core of Biden’s and his advisers’ foreign policy thinking, and they tend to draw parallels between the situation Biden will face when he takes office and that of the Harry S. Truman administration, which had to deal with a major threat to U.S. democracy posed by the Soviet Union, and the United States under Biden, which The United States under Biden had to deal not only with challenges from authoritarian states such as Russia, but also with “illiberal populism” within the United States and other democracies.
“Power as an example”
It is notable that Biden’s foreign policy advisers have a certain resonance with the “neoconservative” forces in the United States when it comes to defending democracy and the “free world.
The “neoconservatives” emphasize an ideological prism for the U.S. international environment and foreign policy, arguing that a strong outward extension of democracy is needed to effectively defend U.S. national security.
Robert Kagan, a leading “neoconservative,” has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, particularly its attacks on U.S. allies and democratic values, calling the United States under Trump a “rogue Kagan has called the United States under Trump a “rogue superpower.
In January 2019, current Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Robert Kagan published an article stating, “The rise of an alternative, techno-authoritarian model of governance is the primary threat to the community of democracies.
Fearing the power and appeal of democracy, autocrats have weaponized the tools of social control in their own countries and used them to create divisions within and among democracies.” They suggest that “democracies need a global vision and new mechanisms to forge a common strategic, economic and political vision” and that the United States and democracies in Europe, Asia and other regions should create “democratic alliances” or “democratic cooperation network”.
Interestingly, Robert Kagan’s wife, Victoria Nuland, has joined the Biden administration as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
Of course, unlike the “neoconservatives” who advocate an offensive approach to “democratic expansion,” the Biden administration should not take the radical approach of a “crusade” to advance democracy. It seems to be more focused on reshaping and preserving democratic institutions within the United States and other Western countries. Colin Kahl, a professor of international politics at Stanford University, is a longtime national security and foreign policy adviser to Biden and a key member of his team. Kahl argues that democracies are at a disadvantage in today’s world and that the United States needs to “defend the established borders of the free world” rather than “extend the liberal approach to democracy.
This border is threatened not only by proxy wars and information warfare initiated by Russia and others, but also by the erosion of the internal problems of democracies.
In other words, the main goal of the Biden administration’s foreign policy is to reclaim the “West” as defined by democratic values, rather than emphasizing the “promotion of democracy” to other non-democratic countries, as previous U.S. administrations have done. “Biden will devote much of his energy to rebuilding his country’s democratic institutions, emphasizing the “power of the United States as an example”. As he said in his inauguration speech, “We will write the next great chapter in the history of the United States of America – the American story”, “together we will write an American story that is full of hope, not fear, full of unity, not division, full of light, not darkness.
Together we will write an American story of hope, not fear, of unity, not division, of light, not darkness, of decency and dignity, of love and healing, of greatness and goodness.” “The defense of our democracy is our nation’s greatest strength,” he said unequivocally, and “America, with its guarantee of freedom at home, will once again be a beacon of light to the world.”
Not only does Biden want to rewrite the “American story,” he is also trying to lead other democracies to “renew themselves. Biden and his advisers know that liberal democratic values are the core of the “West” or “free world” that unites the United States with Europe and other regional countries, but this core is experiencing major shocks from populism and nationalism, as well as non-political factors such as population aging and production automation.
However, this core is experiencing significant impacts from populism and nationalism, as well as non-political factors such as population aging and production automation, which pose complex challenges to the long-term stability and prosperity of liberal democracies.
As a result, Biden proposed to convene a Summit for Democracy in his first year in office to revive the spirit and common will of the free world, strengthen the domestic institutions of democracies, and develop a common agenda for addressing threats to the shared values of democracies. The Summit for Democracy “The Summit for Democracy will focus on three main areas: combating corruption; defending against threats posed by authoritarianism, including enhancing electoral security; and promoting human rights within democracies and in other countries.
The participants of the “Democracy Summit” are not only the governments of the countries concerned, but also civil society organizations, the private sector and others.
It is worth noting that Biden values the role of technology companies and social media platforms, believing that they can play a key role in protecting freedom of expression and defending democracy.
The “Democracy Summit” is an important way to build the “United Democratic States” advocated by Blinken and others, and is also the basic platform for Biden to lead the United States to re-engage with the world. It is worth mentioning that the idea of the “Democracy Summit” was inspired by Biden from the Republican, the late Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).
In addition, after Britain’s exit from the EU, British Prime Minister Johnson also explicitly proposed the idea of the “Democracy 10” (D10), i.e., adding Australia, India and South Korea to the “Group of Seven” (G7). Australia, India and South Korea.
Obviously, the “Democracy Summit” and “Democracy Consortium” are cross-party and transnational in nature, and the Biden administration will do its best to make them a reality.
It should be noted that the “Democracy Consortium” will work to address global challenges such as epidemics, climate change, and transnational crime, while on the other hand, it will promote a series of joint actions by member states in maintaining their democratic institutions and dealing with “authoritarian competitors.
The “coalition” will work to address global challenges such as epidemics, climate change and transnational crime, while promoting a series of joint actions by member states to defend their democratic institutions against “authoritarian competitors. For example, the Transatlantic Commission on Electoral Justice, which Biden co-founded to address the threat posed by Russia to elections in Western democracies, is expected to be adopted by the “Commonwealth of Democracies.
In addition, the Biden administration, through the “community of democracies,” is strengthening the United States’ dominance of international rules, especially in the area of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, by establishing norms and standards that are supposedly consistent with Western values.
In short, compared with the Trump administration, the Biden administration’s foreign policy is committed to reclaiming the “West” and tends to return to the “normalcy” of U.S. diplomacy, emphasizing the maintenance of U.S. democratic values and the alliance system, and trying to By building a “community of democracies,” the United States can continue to play a global leadership role.
However, this is easier said than done, and if the “community of democracies” is reduced to a “Cold War-style multilateralism” that excludes and confronts countries like China, it may not be sustainable.
As Mira Rapp-Hooper, the current senior adviser for China policy at the State Department, and others have argued, the United States should abandon its nostalgia for the liberal international order of the past, which, while serving the United States well over the past decades, has seen many forces erode its foundations, including the dysfunction of the United States and other democracies, and the United States needs to “reimagine” the international order.
The United States needs to “reimagine” the international order and embrace a more inclusive “open world” (Open World) order in the future.