Three-quarters of a century ago, when the Cold War began with the Soviet Union, US President Harry Truman presented the so-called Truman Doctrine. The goal of US foreign policy is “to support free peoples who resist attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures.” This mission determined America’s attitude to the world for the next four decades.
Nobody would have wished for a new Cold War, but a similar turning point has been reached today. In his Address of the State of the Union Last month, President Joe Biden warned that the world was in the midst of a struggle between “democracies and autocracies” in which “liberty will always triumph over tyranny.” It is not yet clear whether this will actually happen. However, the US could do much to influence the direction of the world over the next few decades if the White House is able to seize this moment to articulate a new and more coherent foreign policy.
Biden has tailwind. He was clearly right to walk away from it Donald Trump’s position that NATO was no longer important. Russia’s aggression is a reminder of how important NATO is and how powerful the US and Europe can be when they are aligned not only militarily but also economically. Germany’s renewed willingness to increase its own defense spending to 2 percent of economic output will not only strengthen NATO, but also give Biden a boost, as the US has long advocated for more European countries to pour more money into the alliance.
The unit with which Europe and the USA have come closer financial penalties on Russia also underscored the power of the dollar-based financial system. Economic power – particularly in the form of financial, trade and energy networks – is just as important as military power in the 21st century. Biden should capitalize on this by emphasizing the need to work more closely with Europe and other allies on a shared technology and trade framework for the future. Also with the rise of China, this framework is designed to protect the values of liberal democracies and ensure that open markets do not become a win-win game.
This could include working with the EU on a common energy strategy to ensure this Europe can swing away from Russian oil and gas in a safe and sustainable manner. It could mean common industrial strategies and standards in high-growth areas such as clean technologies. In any case, it should include a common approach to regulating technologies that ensures both data protection and fair market access.
The White House must also be honest about the inflationary implications of the geopolitical moment. The past 40 years of globalization have lowered prices. A more fragmented world will lift them up, at least in the short term. But a survey of US consumers conducted in early March found that 71 percent said they would willing to pay more for fuel if they knew that it would benefit the Ukrainians.
This sense of solidarity has been sorely lacking in both US foreign and domestic policy. Americans are paying attention to what’s happening in Europe in a way they haven’t in decades. They also yearn for a renewed sense of bipartisan leadership and America’s place in the world.
This is an ideal time for Biden to articulate not only the strength of the US military and business networks, but also the strength of Western values - the rule of law, democracy, respect for the individual, property rights, pluralism and open markets. As the war in Ukraine has shown us, it is worth fighting for it today as in Truman’s time.
https://www.ft.com/content/019bfae2-cb10-42f5-8392-b915b30e2a2b Joe Biden’s chance to articulate a new US foreign policy