United States President Joe Biden’s speech in Congress this week underlined the depth and detail of his transformative national agenda. But his hurried muttering about America’s powerful rivals also revealed the vagueness and inconsistency of his foreign policy.
His administration has been refreshingly bold and transparent in its domestic agenda, but annoyingly casual and ambiguous in its foreign policy.
The absence of an urgent major strategic challenge – of the scale of 9/11, the Korean, Vietnam or Gulf wars – and the devastating impact of the pandemic have relegated foreign policy to the bottom of the US administration’s agenda.
This has allowed Biden to speak like a “liberal internationalist”, but behave like a “pragmatic realist”. He rejoined the multilateral agreements and international institutions that were abandoned by his predecessor and announced a final military withdrawal from Afghanistan, but his commitment to democracy and human rights there and elsewhere has remained rhetorical at best.
This paper was published by Al Jazeera on April 29, 2021. To read the full paper click here.