Biden Needs More Than Multilateralism To Accomplish His Foreign Policy Goals

bird flying near American flag under white clouds during daytime

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President Biden wants the world to know America is back, prepared to lead, committed to shared western goals, multilateralism, and diplomacy.

American foreign policy must operate at two levels. Existential threats to civilization—climate change, pandemics and nuclear proliferation. And East-West competition—Russia’s obsession with lost empire, and China’s ambition to impose an international order more friendly to its autocratic capitalism.

If China and Russia viewed proliferation as a genuine threat, Iran and North Korea by now would be subjected to enough severe multilateral sanctions to give up nuclear weapons ambitions or face regime change. Instead, Beijing and Moscow like those thorns in America’s side.

The Europeans would recognize the 2015 deal that froze Tehran’s weapons-making ambitions for only 10 years was never a solution and advocate the toughest sanctions possible to force its hand. Instead, they act as though negotiating with a terrorist regime would accomplish results with Mr. Biden’s participation that were not possible with President Obama.

China appears confident it can thrust upon the world one pandemic after another, use the resulting chaos to advance its timeline for gaining global economic dominance and manage whatever public health problems those may impose domestically, or it would be cooperating more earnestly with the WHO.

China simply won’t commit to net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 as have EuropeJapan and America with Mr. Biden. Instead, we can expect it to demand payment—a blind eye to human rights abuses, militarization of the South Pacific and incursions on Taiwanese autonomy.

No solution to climate change is possible without India, but its sense of entitlement as a developing nation make net-zero by 2050 politically impossible without massive western aid. Europe, given the state of its economy, can barely afford to finance its own energy transformation. Mr. Biden’s Middle Class First foreign policy would look a lot like President Trump’s America First if summoned to truly underwrite the Third World. 

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