The Biden administration should act to correct its foreign policy malaise to Afghanistan by accepting economic deals that bring its global partners together and restore confidence in the US leadership.
These efforts should start with the adoption and expansion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), but not end to include the UK (which has applied for membership) and other European partners (which have not). .
That bite of a trade deal title, unsupported by an acronym that’s stuttering rather than visionary, symbolizes all that is wrong with the United States’ withdrawal from the brand of international leadership that shaped the decades after World War II. That time brought a historic expansion of prosperity and democracy that is now in jeopardy.
Although negotiated as a TPP by the Obama administration and signed in February 2016, the deal never went into effect after President Trump stepped down from him when he took office in 2017. Nonetheless, a year later, led by the Japanese, the other eleven signatories came up with an agreement that accounts for more than 13 percent of global GDP, or $ 13.5 trillion.
Nothing should have roused the Biden administration more to the appeal of the CPTPP or the dangers of a US exit than last month’s request by the Chinese to join the deal, which came with the news of the trilateral defense agreement between the US, Australia and the United States the United Kingdom, or AUKUS, which, among other things, would bring nuclear submarines to Australia.
Beijing argues that while the United States continues to split global influence militarily, China sees its greatest global advantage in the size and attractiveness of its economy at a time when most of its leading US allies, including the entire European Union, have Beijing as your leading trading partner.
The best way to counter this economically-driven Chinese effort under the all-encompassing heading of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is to bring something even more attractive, electroplating, and inclusive among democracies into motion.
Biden government officials would argue that they are already doing just that with Build Back Better World, or B3W, the G7 counterpart to BRI, which aims to counter China’s strategic influence through infrastructure projects. This is a useful post.
A “Global Prosperity and Democracy Partnership” could be created through the combination of an expanded CPTPP, B3W and a variety of other measures. It could involve all willing partners bravely organized to reverse three dangerous, exacerbating trends: US international withdrawal, global democratic decline, and China’s authoritarian rise as a leading international influencer and standard-setter for the coming era.
By embracing its global partners economically, the Biden administration would act in a way that is far more in keeping with its own “America is back” narrative than it was during an Afghan retreat that did little to embrace allies and bring the Taliban to power. It would also reflect President Biden’s precise diagnosis of our current turning point as a systemic competition between democracy and autocracy.
The AUKUS defense deal may be a welcome regional security arrangement, but it has at the same time weighed on the alliance with France by undermining its own $ 66 billion deal with the Australians in what one Paris official called “a stab in the back” .
The “Quad” leaders’ meetings in Washington last week, which brought together India, Japan, Australia and the United States, are a significant regional achievement. Yet the Chinese generational challenge, which is global, economic and ideological, is still not being addressed.
Allies in the Biden administration so far have argued that the president must first focus on domestic affairs before considering international economic and trade deals: Suppress COVID-19, his $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill combined Adopt a separate social policy and climate policy measure remain stalled in Congress.
However, it is the international and historical context that gives his domestic political plans their greatest urgency under the mantra “Build Back Better”.
The President of the Council of Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, writes in Foreign Affairs this week calling for “a new internationalism” that must combine both national and global features in order to be successful.
“The starting point for a new internationalism should be the clear realization that foreign policy begins at home, but cannot end there,” writes Haass in his well-read essay. “Biden has the ‘fundamental truth of the century … the question is whether he can shape and conduct a foreign policy that reflects it.”
Haass’ essay provides a useful and compelling way to understand US global leadership after World War II and the importance of our historic moment.
He begins by provocatively arguing that “there is far more continuity than is generally recognized between the foreign policy of the current President (Biden) and that of the former President (Trump),” in their rejection of the US internationalism that drives our actions afterwards World War II drove.
He divides the global leadership of the USA after 1945 into two “paradigms”.
The first, emerging from World War II and the Cold War, was “founded on the recognition that US national security depends on more than just looking after the country’s own narrowly defined concerns.” That, in turn, required “supporting business start-ups and then maintaining an international system that, imperfect as it may be, would support the security and prosperity of the US in the long term”.
He sees the new and still-existing paradigm that emerged at the end of the Cold War some thirty years ago and still exists in the Biden administration as a reflection of “the reality is that Americans want the benefits of the international order without the hard work of building and maintaining. “
He rightly uses the word “waste” to criticize US foreign policy after the Cold War. “The United States has missed its best chance to update the system that successfully waged the Cold War for a new era marked by new challenges and new rivalries,” he writes.
President Biden came into office sounding like a leader trying to invent a new paradigm for a more demanding global era shaped by a cross-generational Chinese and climatic challenge. It should be one of national renewal and international commitment.
He can stop waste by initiating a course of global common cause among democracies. “In the absence of a new American internationalism,” warns Haass, “the likely outcome will be a world less free, more violent, and less willing or able to face common challenges.”
The Biden government still has the chance to act boldly and decisively. But that window of time will not be open forever.