Editorial: United States of America, re-engaging with the world

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A world that has grown weary of the toxic diplomacy and bullying tactics of Donald Trump’s administration over the last few years has just been offered a refreshing menu by his successor Joe Biden, one that promises to respect the diversity of tastes and needs. The foreign policy agenda, unveiled by the Democratic President in his first major speech at the State Department, marks a significant departure from protectionist and xenophobic politics of his predecessor and reflects a new sense of hope for a better engagement with the world based on principles of mutual respect and amity. Ending American support and arms supply to Saudi Arabia for the ongoing war in Yemen was a significant announcement that demonstrated a shift from a failed war strategy toward a comprehensive diplomatic approach. By pledging to bring diplomacy back to the centre stage of America’s foreign policy, Biden has sent a message of reconciliation and readiness of his administration to repair alliances, reset the ties with key global players and reclaim the credibility. In a string of executive orders, he has already made some course corrections, including reversing the Trump administration’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate accord, ending travel ban on visitors from some Muslim countries, rolling back key energy and climate regulations of his predecessor, re-engaging with the World Health Organization (WHO) and initiating immigration reforms. The latest agreement with Russia to extend the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) for five years serves as a message that the new administration is keen to re-engage on the global stage.

After winning a tough battle for the soul of America in a highly polarised election, Biden has, in right earnest, started the task of rebuilding the democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years. On China too, Biden has taken a more mature and nuanced position, offering to work and compete with Beijing from a position of strength even while confronting China’s economic abuses and its coercive actions and pushing back on its attack on human rights. He also signalled a return to a vision of the United States as an immigrant nation, pledging to accept more refugees. For someone who has inherited a confluence of crises, accentuated by the politics of hatred, Biden has chosen the role of a healer, putting reconciliation over partisan politics and offering an overarching prescription of unity. With the Democrats now controlling the Congress, Biden, the oldest President with vast legislative experience, has an opportunity to implement an inclusive agenda. The early actions and words of his administration show a promising start to a constructive foreign policy that will protect America’s interests and cement its values around the world.


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