25 FEBRUARY 2021
The world shouldn’t celebrate President Biden’s declaration that “America is back” but should tremble in fear. He doesn’t mean that it’s returning to the international community as an equal member, but that it’s doubling down on its bad habits.
US President Joe Biden thundered that “America is back” while addressing the Munich Security Conference last week via video, but his understanding of what this means might be a bad thing for the rest of the world. There were high hopes that he’d pragmatically re-engage with the international community in order to right his predecessor’s many foreign policy wrongs, but it seems from the rest of the words that he shared during his speech that he has other motivations in mind. The problem is that President Biden revealed how ideological his envisioned foreign policy is, which will inevitably contribute to further international instability in the future.
According to the American leader, the world is presently at an inflection point between democracy and what he described as “autocracy”. He said that his country’s “galvanizing mission” must therefore be to “demonstrate that democracies can still deliver for our people in this changed world” since he’s convinced that “it’s the single best way to revitalize the promise of our future.” In and of itself, that wouldn’t be an issue so long as the US focused solely on improving the state of its democracy at home, but regrettably, he wants to impose its interpretation of this governing system onto the rest of the world in a paradoxically undemocratic way.
Democracy is supposed to be about respecting differences, yet President Biden proclaimed that America will “speak out to defend [its values] around the world”, which differ from other countries’. Every state should have the right to practice their own form of democracy at home in line with their national traditions and culture without coming under pressure from abroad for this choice. Just like every person in a democracy should be able to do whatever they’d like as long as it’s peaceful, responsible, and doesn’t infringe on others’ rights, so too should every member of the international community be able to do this as well.
Unfortunately, President Biden’s ideologically driven foreign policy denies this right to China, which discredits America’s pro-democratic approach to International Relations. He proposed that “the United States, Europe, and Asia work together to secure the peace and defend our shared values and advance our prosperity across the Pacific” due to what he described as their “long-term strategic competition with China”. He also said that “We have to push back against the Chinese government’s economic abuses and coercion that undercut the foundations of the international economic system. Everyone — everyone — must play by the same rules.”
That statement is extremely hypocritical since it doesn’t align with reality. It’s the US that carries out economic abuses and pursues a policy of coercion against others which confirms it’s unwillingness to play by the same rules as everyone else. This is proven by its trade war against China and reliance on illegal sanctions as a foreign policy tool. China, by contrast, has always complied with international law and the rules of the World Trade Organization. Beijing doesn’t believe that there should be any double standards in this respect. It’s consistently advocated for America to return back to respecting international rules and norms instead of violating them.
President Biden’s messianic belief in America’s mission to impose its national interpretation of democracy onto others seems to have made him think that it’s acceptable to apply double standards towards this end. That’s the only explanation for why he’d so shamelessly lie to the rest of the world by claiming that China carries out a policy of economic abuses and coercion when that’s actually what his own country has a proven track record of doing. This observation strongly implies that the fundamental fallacy of his foreign policy is the mistaken assumption that America’s model of democracy is universal and that this thus makes the country exceptional.
That’s not true, though. America isn’t better than anyone else like the country’s conservatives claim, nor is it “the first among equals” like its liberals seem to believe. It’s simply just another member of the international community, albeit the one which is arguably the most responsible for destabilizing the world because of its dangerous belief in its own messianic mission and exceptionalism. Considering this, the world shouldn’t celebrate President Biden’s declaration that “America is back” but should tremble in fear. He doesn’t mean that it’s returning to the international community as an equal member, but that it’s doubling down on its bad habits.