On Thursday, to cement and lay the foundation for these Herculean transformational efforts from the sometimes crazy twists and turns of Donald Trump’s administration, Biden traveled to the State Department to meet with his tireless and visionary Secretary of State Antony Blinken and personally thank foreign service officers for their service.
“America is back, diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy,” Biden told the world. “America’s alliances are our greatest asset, and leading diplomatically means once again being alongside our key allies and partners.” He called on diplomats to include some basic principles, “integrity in everything you do, transparency and accountability to restore confidence in America to the world.”
It represented a dramatic break with his predecessor, who had sought to dismantle entirely, or at best neutralize, all efforts to maintain America’s cohesive and democratic presence on the world stage. Some of these actions, such as ending US involvement in the Paris climate agreement, the Iranian nuclear pact and the Open Skies agreement, while reducing the US presence from Afghanistan to Germany are now being revised or canceled
Small clues from press secretary Jen Psaki and an even broader view from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and State Department spokesman Ned Price, followed by Thursday’s landmark speech by Biden himself, suggest several key pillars of this foreign policy. First, the actions of other countries and the reaction of the United States must be, in virtually all cases, “in our best interests”, as Price suggested when asked questions as disparate as the coup d’état in Burma
and Russian activities in the country or in connection with key treaties.
“The denominator that we adhere to in this matter are our interests. It is clearly in our interest to have a full five-year extension of the New START agreement,” Price said on Wednesday of the nuclear weapons treaty. with Russia. .
“As we engage Russia in a way that advances American interests… we can also remain lucid about the challenges that Russia poses. Even if we work with Russia to advance American interests, we will also hold Russia responsible for its recklessness. and his accusatory behavior, “he said. added
. In short, a pretty abrupt departure from a Trump administration that rarely held Russia responsible for anything.
Indeed, even reading Biden’s first phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin
, was revealing. From the US side came word that the president “reaffirmed the United States’ strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty” and “raised other issues of concern, including the SolarWinds hack, reports that Russia awarded bounties to US soldiers in Afghanistan, meddling in the 2020 US elections and poisoning Aleksey Navalny. “
“President Biden has made it clear that the United States will act firmly to defend its national interests in response to Russian actions that harm us or our allies,” the statement read. White House Statement
. And in his speech on Thursday, Biden added that “the days when the United States turned around in the face of aggressive Russian actions, meddling in our elections, cyber attacks, poisoning its citizens are over. “.
Importantly, Biden released his version of the phone call long before the Kremlin. “The Presidents expressed their satisfaction following today’s exchange of diplomatic notes on an agreement to extend the new START treaty”, the The Kremlin press service said
And there are some things that some of Trump’s closest friends abroad won’t like – particularly his decision to suspend all American aid to offensive operations in Yemen
, an initiative aimed directly at Saudi Arabia and its leaders, who had developed close ties with Trump. “This war must end,” Biden said, in another dramatic break with Trump who was all-in to support his Saudi allies.
When Jake Sullivan briefed the press ahead of Biden’s visit, he described five key pillars of Biden’s new foreign and defense policy which range from “re-engaging key institutions and agreements” to “reaffirming our values,” as well as “More effectively compete with our competitors at all levels.”
Biden, in his remarks, said he was ready to work with China “when it is in America’s best interests to do so.” Yet its leader Xi Jinping is the only major world leader Biden has not contacted personally.
On Wednesday, Ned Price had successfully extended an olive branch, observing that the administration will continue to be “guided by the one-China policy
This is unlikely to be viewed with pleasure in Taiwan, where the rulers hoped to continue asserting a minimum of independence from the mainland and were bolstered by the early and clearly misinformed donation of a unprecedented phone call
even before taking up his duties.
From the early hours of the Biden presidency, world leaders have been called upon to hear this worldview expressed. Between Biden, Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan, they to have called
at least 45 presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and national security advisers.
As proof of their priorities, Biden started with his two neighbors – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He then contacted the Briton Boris Johnson, the French Emmanuel Macron and the German Angela Merkel. Putin was followed by the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jens Stoltenberg.
Above all, the new administration, heir to the biggest collection of red lines
never assembled at any given time on the planet, is careful enough before making your way through them or especially establishing new ones. Price, along with the State Department, has already answered, admirably, a number of questions on this topic.
Price was asked on Wednesday whether Iran’s refusal to have some of its sites inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency would amount to a red line. “The kinds of decisions you point out are not something the United States would want to undertake on its own or would like to consider or consider on its own,” he said. It was a sharp break with Trump’s quitting policy. Price concluded: “I don’t want to define red lines from here, certainly not today.”
Yet in his speech, Biden made no reference to the Iran nuclear deal – apparently ready to let other aspects of his new foreign policy go – building bridges with allies keen to restore the pact and win friends. in Tehran with the end of military aid to anti-Iranian forces deployed in Yemen.
Overall, the first actions and words of the Biden administration were an admirable start to developing a truly cohesive and constructive foreign policy that will protect and defend America and cement its values around the world.