February 4th, local time, U.S. President Biden delivered his first foreign policy speech after taking office, declaring that “the United States is back”. Biden said that the United States will focus on re-rebuilding relations with NATO allies and Japan and South Korea to “rebuild America’s credit and moral authority”.
Although the new U.S. government has repeatedly sent signals such as repairing alliances and strengthening cooperation with allies, the Biden administration will have to face questionable eyes from allies after the wanton tossing of Trump’s four-year term and deep adjustments to American society and foreign policy itself.
First of all, the collapse of U.S. international credit in the past four years has made allies no longer unconditionally believe in the United States. Over the past four years, the Trump administration has made American foreign affairs “commercial transactions” and even “piracy looting” under the “America first”, which has caused the international credit of the United States to collapse and seriously damaged the confidence of allies in the United States.
While Biden has repeatedly claimed “to rebuild the muscles of the Democratic Alliance that have shrunk over the past four years due to neglect and abuse,” it is clear that repairing trust is not an overnight effort. Brookings Institution researcher Andre Perry believes that the extreme values Trump advocates are not exceptions, but reflect the prevailing emotions in American society.
Ethan Tarrell, a prominent Washington Post commentator, also believes that as a powerful trend in American politics, Trumpism will continue. Will there be Trump-style politicians in the future in the United States? Will there be another major reversal of U.S. foreign policy? Doubts are all obstacles between the United States and its allies.
U.S. News & World Report quoted Ian Bremer, president of the world-renowned political consulting firm Eurasia Group, as saying that other countries can no longer see the United States as a “partner committed to long-term development or playing a role in politics”.
Secondly, the mask of “American democracy” was punctured and shook the cornerstone of the American alliance system.
Over the past four years, the conflict between the political forces of the left and right sides of the United States has intensified, “veto politics” has become the norm of American politics, and the American democracy has fallen into functional dysfunction. The violent impact on the Capitol on January 6 completely shattered the mask of the American “democratic defender” and made American democracy decency.
The collapse of the image of American democracy has made the common values such as “democracy” and “freedom” flaunted by the American alliance system become the laughingstock. The New York Times article said that the congressional riots not only gave Trump the last blow, but also the most powerful blow to the U.S. alliance.
Finally, the differences in the understanding of alliance between the United States and allies will also challenge Biden to repair the allied system. Take the most important transatlantic relationship in the U.S. alliance system as an example.
Although Europe has expressed a warm welcome to Biden’s entry into the White House, it is difficult for the United States-Europe relations that have experienced the “turbulence” of the Trump era to “go back to the past”. In the past few years, with the impetus of France and Germany, European autonomy has gradually strengthened.
In the diplomatic field, the EU firmly upholds multilateralism; in the economic field, Europe also calls for safeguarding “technical sovereignty” and “digital sovereignty” and guaranteeing the ability to be free from other powers in the era of digital economy.
Today, the United States still wants to rebuild the model of “America’s leadership + allies follow”, and first of all, it has to face the challenge of Europe’s enhancement of “strategic autonomy”.
In fact, just as Biden called for “the United States and Europe should unite to deal with China”, French President Macron said in a speech to the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, that although the EU is closer to Washington’s position because of common values, it should not partner with the United States to “deal” China.
In addition, a series of trade policies that the Biden administration has launched or is about to come out, such as the announced “Buy American” plan, and it is still unclear whether to eliminate the additional tariffs imposed under the Trump era, etc., which may become the “nail” to repair its alliance.
It can be said that the era of “calling friends and attracting companions” in the United States may have sunk in the pile of old paper in history. The United States may have “returned”, but the world has changed.