resident Joe Biden recently delivered a speech at the State Department, laying out the major foreign policy goals of his new administration. The speech centered on the theme that “America is back.”
Biden’s speech included his plans to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal and renew U.S. membership in the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization. In Europe, Biden implied he would return to the pre-Trump status quo on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), promising to rebuild “the muscle of democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years of neglect and, I would argue, abuse.” On a related note, Biden promised to stop “any planned troop withdrawals from Germany.”
On great power competition, Biden called China “our most serious competitor.” But he spent much of the speech on Russia, implying the United States would get tougher on the Kremlin and stop “rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions.”
Biden’s speech promised that the United States would end its support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. With over a quarter million dead, America’s involvement is a moral stain. Presidents Obama and Trump were wrong to support the war, and Biden will be doing the right thing if he ends U.S. support.
Biden is also right to seek détente with Iran, which is not a threat to the United States and only threatens U.S. troops because Washington has them adjacent to Iran’s east and west, in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iran nuclear deal was highly flawed, but America should not be involving itself in the 1,400-year-old civil war between Islam’s Shias led by Iran, and the Sunnis led by Saudi Arabia. This involvement is unnecessary because of U.S. energy independence.
But Biden’s line on “neglect and… abuse” toward NATO allies is hogwash. NATO’s treaty requires its members to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense, and to also spend a certain amount of the overall defense budget on heavy equipment and technology.