by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A common refrain of the Biden campaign was that as president, the Democratic nominee would seek to “rebuild alliances” that the Trump administration had destroyed. The reasons why that was such an attractive message to Biden are obvious: It made him sound like the responsible adult in the room while reminding voters of Donald Trump’s often-embarrassing and sometimes-destructive behavior on the world stage.
For a certain kind of Biden booster, a stated policy of “rebuilding alliances” is likely to be good enough. What these folks are interested in is an administration’s tone and its nominal commitment to international institutions such as the World Health Organization and accords such as the Paris Climate Agreement. They’re especially bothered by Emmanuel Macron’s, Boris Johnson’s, and Justin Trudeau’s snickering at Trump during North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) gatherings. The important questions — With whom does Biden intend to rebuild alliances, and to what end? — are of less interest to them.
That’s because in its approach to foreign policy, the Democratic Party is chiefly concerned with following Europe’s lead, and reorienting the U.S.’s involvement in the Middle East away from Israel and Saudi Arabia and toward Iran. Joe Biden is sure to do both, and that will be enough to please the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post. …
… Biden’s rhetoric will undoubtedly be more complimentary toward NATO — and his meaningless recommitment to the Paris accord will be met with plaudits across the European continent — but he is unlikely to keep up the pressure on its member nations to invest in it, which could weaken it over the long term. Moreover, he is less likely than his predecessor to confront allies when they take actions that undermine NATO and put less powerful members at risk.