America’s post-Trump role

Daniel Strieff looks at the task Biden faces getting the US back on track

The World Today Published 1 December 2020 Updated 4 December 2020 3 minute READ

Daniel Strieff

Author of ‘Jimmy Carter and the Middle East: The Politics of Presidential Diplomacy’

When the Cold War ended, American leaders faced a choice. Washington could enjoy its ‘peace dividend’ by investing the resources previously spent confronting the Soviet Union on domestic projects, such as housing, education and healthcare, or it could pursue a United States-led liberal hegemony, characterized by a particularly American vision of democratic values and a rules-based international system.

American policymakers decided on the latter. And it is clear today that they chose poorly. This failure doesn’t explain Donald Trump, whose defeat by Joseph Biden made him only the third duly elected president to lose re-election since the Second World War. But the domestic dissatisfaction that he capitalized on grew out of the failure of US leaders to articulate – and sell to the public – America’s post-Cold War role in the world. It is a legacy Biden will confront as he tries to rehabilitate US foreign policy following Trump’s devastating mismanagement.

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