Opinion: The last thing Biden needs
But as important as foreign policy is to the President’s agenda, he knows the greatest threat to the republic, and to his presidency, lies at home. Addressing domestic issues — such as combating Covid and inflation, passing a scaled-down Build Back Better bill and protecting voter rights — will require all the bandwidth he can muster, especially as the midterms approach.
Countries — from China to Russia — had begun to talk bolder moves in challenging US influence. And the largely inadequate global response to both Covid and climate change seemed to raise serious doubts about the value of multilateral diplomacy.
Moreover, the ongoing crisis in American politics — capped off by the January assault on the US Capitol — left allies wondering about the stability of America’s political system and what would be left of the Biden administration’s commitments should Republicans retake Congress in 2022 or a Republican win the White House in 2024.
So, where should the President begin 2022?
Unfortunately, prospects for success in all four of these areas are limited. Domestic politics limit the administration’s flexibility, and it’s hard to imagine even the best deterrence and diplomacy strategy producing stable end states. As the midterms approach, the President who was determined to devote his major efforts to repairing America’s domestic travails, may increasingly find himself bogged down in dangerous foreign policy challenges abroad. At best, if he’s skillful and lucky, the world that Biden confronts is one to be managed, not transformed.
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