As U.S. President Joe Biden contemplates course corrections after his first months in office, one change seems especially worthy of consideration: a shift to a more pragmatic, less ideological foreign policy.
So far, Biden has centered his statecraft on the clash between democracy and autocracy. In his address to Congress late last month, he identified the country’s adversaries as “the autocrats of the world,” vowing that they “will not win the future. We will. America will.” Envisaging a twenty-first-century “battle between the utility of democracies ... and autocracies,” Biden has called for a global “Summit for Democracy” to mobilize like-minded countries against illiberal challengers.
This approach may help rally Americans around the flag, but it is a strategic mistake. America’s relations with both China and Russia have tanked since Biden took office. China has rattled sabers over Taiwan. Chinese and U.S. officials spar in public. Russia has issued new military threats against Ukraine. The United States and the Kremlin exchange sanctions and expel each other’s diplomats.