U.S. President Joe Biden has promised that re-engaging with the world and prioritizing alliances will top his administration’s diplomatic agenda. During his campaign, Biden fiercely criticized the Trump administration’s disregard for alliances, claiming that it had seriously undermined the status and influence of the United States on the world stage.
To be sure, Trump weakened American alliances by referring to European countries as trade “enemies,” hinting at a withdrawal from NATO and advancing the withdrawal of American troops from Germany. In the Asia Pacific region, Trump demonstrated his disdain for alliances by suddenly postponing U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises, saying they could hinder a “deal” at the U.S. summit with North Korea.
Yet U.S. allies worry that, despite the fanfare, Biden’s emphasis on alliances may lead to nothing. The situation in the United States, which accounts for a quarter of the world’s COVID-19 infections, is dire. First and foremost, the Biden administration must do everything possible to get through the virus crisis. The Biden administration cannot ignore the pressure of public opinion to prioritize domestic affairs over foreign policy.