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America’s Return to the World

Implementing an overall US strategy to bolster liberal democracy and rebuild multilateralism will inevitably involve many shades of gray. But the Biden administration’s early actions and the sincerity of its declarations suggest that it could become the most internationally transformative US administration in decades.

WASHINGTON, DC – In the weeks prior to US President Joe Biden’s inauguration, many believed that a heavy domestic agenda would leave him with little scope to break quickly and cleanly with Donald Trump’s purely transactional approach to diplomacy and reengage America in international affairs. But, fortunately for the United States and the world, the Biden administration’s efforts to date clearly indicate otherwise.

Biden forcefully outlined his strategic principles in a February 19 online speech to the Munich Security Conference. Soon afterward, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen summarized America’s new approach to international economic issues in a remarkable letter to G20 finance ministers. And on March 3, Secretary of State Antony Blinken comprehensively enumerated the administration’s foreign-policy priorities.

These pronouncements point to several consistent themes, several of which are already reflected in the new administration’s actions. For starters, Biden’s approach will be systemic, not transactional, emphasizing strategic continuity and coherence. Unlike Trump, Biden will not call Chinese President Xi Jinping a great friend one day and a dangerous enemy the next. Nor will he refer to Europe as a greater threat to the US economy than China and, soon afterward, hail it as an important ally.

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