Bidenism: America is looking for a new place in the world

Only after 24 hours The last U.S. troops took off from Kabul, To complete the arduous and deadly withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, Joe Biden Announce the start A new chapter in American foreign policy.

“This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan,” the 78-year-old US president said in a televised speech at the White House’s National Dining Room on Tuesday. “This is to end an era of major military operations that have reshaped other countries.”

Biden’s remarks are not particularly novel: his suspicion of the US war in Afghanistan can be traced back to the Obama administration, and his hope that quelling the war is both a 2020 campaign promise and a priority since entering the White House in January.

However, the chaotic nature of the withdrawal and Biden’s emphasis on its broader significance have caused repercussions in Washington and around the world, causing the United States to shift to a more restrained and cautious exercise of military power in the past few years.

The U.S. hastily withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and its broader implications are reverberating in Washington and the world © Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

For supporters of Biden’s approach, this move reflects their belief that the readjustment of US national security policy is too late after the futile and costly conflicts of the past two decades. They believe that this shift will give US officials and the military more room to focus on confronting large strategic opponents such as China and China. RussiaAnd respond to global challenges such as Climate crisis, Without falling into endless conflicts, especially in the Middle East.

Others worry that Biden is ushering in a more risky era of US austerity, which may encourage the courage of its opponents, disturb its most vulnerable allies, weaken its promotion of human rights, and restore the United States to a strong Some hopes for global leadership have been dashed. Four years after Donald Trump took office.

“In the foreseeable future, we need to find a way to show the strength of the United States-otherwise the Chinese and Russians will unconsciously think that this is the century when China enters its dictatorship and succeeds. That will be very dangerous. “A European diplomat said.

Armies from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan participated in military training exercises. The United States hopes that its policy shift will allow it to focus on fighting large strategic competitors such as Russia. ©Natalia Fedosenko/TASS via Reuters

“What I care about now is: How does the rest of the world view us?” asked former US Secretary of Defense William Cohen under Bill Clinton. “What is calculation [China and Russia]? Equally important, what are our allies calculating? “.

“Our priorities are elsewhere”

Over the past century, the pendulum of American foreign and defense policy has tended to undergo a generational shift between self-confidence and decline. The Vietnam War triggered the last backlash against large-scale military deployments, as well as large-scale anti-war protests across the country. In 1969, then President Richard Nixon called on the United States not to “undertake all defenses against the free nations of the world.”

But more than a decade later, after Ronald Reagan entered the Oval Office, the United States’ reluctance to use military power on a large scale eased: President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton were in the Gulf for the first time. During the war, large-scale military interventions in Iraq and the Kosovo conflict were carried out to defend international law and punish human rights violations.

George W. Bush’s US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq September 11 terrorist attack More brazen, more complicated, and bloodier-leading to a slow and steady loss of support from the domestic public, and Strains the U.S. global alliance.

U.S. President Joe Biden takes off his protective mask before his speech at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Joe Biden is going to speak at the White House on the day the last US military plane leaves Afghanistan. The President of the United States defends the withdrawal decision ©Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Biden said on Tuesday: “We see that Afghanistan’s counter-terrorism mission-to stop terrorists from attacking-has evolved into counter-insurgency, nation-building, and an attempt to build a democratic, cohesive and united Afghanistan.” “Get rid of this mentality and that. This large-scale deployment of troops will make us stronger, more effective and safer at home.”

Foreign policy experts in Washington said that Biden’s remarks still gave him enough flexibility to use force when necessary. “I don’t think that Afghanistan’s decision is that the United States will hesitate to use force if it is in the interests of the United States. Biden’s decision is that it is no longer in the interests of the United States to continue the efforts to give life and wealth for decades in Afghanistan. . Our priorities are elsewhere,” said Tom Donilon, a former national security adviser under Barack Obama.

Jim Dobbins, a senior researcher at the RAND Think Tank and a former senior U.S. State Department official, warned that the president’s intention to avoid major foreign military operations is often short-lived and replaced by events.

Dobbins said: “This is non-historical, and I think it is equally impossible in the future to think that we will confine ourselves to such a narrow definition of America’s important interests, or that the scope of American intervention is so narrow.”

Threat from China

Biden’s national security adviser Jack Sullivan said that the “core” of the president’s foreign policy “vision” has been the same since he took office in the Senate.

Sullivan pointed out its main components: “A strong United States works with partners and allies to defend our common values, advance our common interests, and prove that-even in the face of new and accelerated global challenges-democracy It can be realized for the American people and the people of the world.”

Former US officials and diplomats said that if the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan proceeds more smoothly, Sullivan’s words will be more reassuring and more consistent.But the way it unfolded, American allies were blinded by the speed of the Taliban’s takeover and pleaded in vain. Have more time to evacuate their citizens, Weakened confidence in the United States.

In 2014, an American-made Perry-class frigate participated in the Hanguang exercise off the east of Hualien.The Taiwan Navy launches rockets and guns in a scenario that simulates China’s invasion. This is the island’s largest live-fire naval exercise in 25 years

The Taiwan Navy conducts live ammunition exercises. Faced with threats from China, the country is highly dependent on the security assurances of the United States © Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

“We knew it would happen, we knew it would happen soon, and we were prepared for the idea of ​​leaving together, but we did not expect this kind of artificial acceleration. What surprised us was the way it happened, we I hoped more cooperation,” said another European diplomat.

US officials—including Secretary of State Anthony Brinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Vice President Kamala Harris—have been eager to thank allies around the world, including the Gulf States, in recent days. Help evacuate, Reaffirming the United States’ commitment to its security and coordinating efforts to engage with the new Taliban government.

Mara Rudman, vice president of policy at the Center for American Progress, said: “Starting with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, maintaining and establishing the credibility of the United States among allies and competitors will be a key challenge for this administration.”

However, it is unclear whether all the unease and friction will be resolved so quickly.

“For Western allies, this will prompt NATO and other places to have serious discussions about what it means to carry out large-scale operations in the future,” said the first European diplomat. “Otherwise, we do run the risk of gaining trust outside of the transatlantic alliance with Russia’s claim of’the end of the West’.” Greater concerns may arise in Taiwan, Ukraine Or other countries that rely heavily on US security guarantees.

A Ukrainian soldier walks in the trenches on the front line with Russian-backed separatists near the town of Krasnogorvka in the Donetsk region
A Ukrainian soldier and separatists supported by Russia are walking in the trenches on the front lines. Ukraine relies heavily on U.S. support to counter Russian aggression © Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

From Bahrain to Germany and South Korea, the United States still deploys 200,000 soldiers overseas, and has an annual defense budget of 700 billion US dollars-this is a huge military force that cannot be ignored.

Former US ambassador to Afghanistan and veteran former diplomat Michael McKinley stated that the US “will not retreat” is more common-withdrawal from Afghanistan should not “have an impact on the rest of the world.” However, he said that Afghanistan’s failure made the Biden administration’s success in its other foreign policy and domestic goals even more important.

“The real question is, does this broader agenda have a foothold?” McKinley asked. “Has the United States successfully reintegrated itself on transnational issues such as climate change, technology, and pandemic response, and has formulated a coherent strategy for dealing with China and Russia?”

The second European diplomat did not think that the United States was a “country that would give up certain things”, such as fighting terrorism or pursuing human rights, but pointed out: “I see a country that is very focused on itself.”

Domestically, Biden attaches great importance to his US$1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, US$3.5 trillion social spending plan, and comprehensive tax increases for companies and wealthy people. These are seen as the United States’ economic challenge to its international competitors. The key to hard work. front. Nevertheless, given the democratic state of the United States, perceptions of the strength or weakness of the United States around the world may be more affected. The influence of former President Donald Trump lingers And his challenge to traditional institutions and public elections.

Nathalie Tocci, director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali, a foreign policy think tank in Rome and a visiting professor at Harvard Kennedy School, said that Biden’s strategy “is meaningful for a relatively declining superpower.”

But as the United States becomes more cautious in projecting military power, Washington may face a similar predicament as European countries. “US [in Europe] We don’t know how to deal with Turkey, we don’t know how to deal with Belarus. This is not just about Afghanistan. For a long time, we didn’t know how to deal with some of these places,” Tocci said. “We also don’t have the answer, but we need to find it. ”

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