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The War in Ukraine Calls for a Reset of Biden’s Foreign Policy


Supporting Member
Feb 25, 2022
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Anti-Populism, Pro-NATO
Political Leaning
via ForeignAffairs

America Can’t Support Democracy Only When It’s Convenient

"The invasion of Ukraine is a paradigm shift on the scale of 9/11,”
British Foreign Minister Liz Truss told an audience in Washington on March 10. “How we respond today will set the pattern for this new era.”

Truss’s comments capture the prevailing view in Washington. A member of Congress remarked days later, “You’d have to go back to 9/11 to see such a unified commitment.” Considering how that post-9/11 unity was put to use, its invocation now should be viewed more as a warning than as encouragement. The United States and its allies made many disastrously wrong choices in the wake of 9/11, choices that had far-reaching consequences: the declaration of a global “war on terror,” the decision to turn the initial military intervention in Afghanistan into a long-term state-building operation, the invasion of Iraq, a worldwide campaign of kidnapping, torture, and assassination, to name a few. With those mistakes and abuses in mind, the United States must tread carefully as it responds to this new geopolitical turning point. It is desperately important that it makes the right choices this time around.

There is no doubt Russia’s horrendous war in Ukraine has engendered a sense of unity and purpose among many U.S. foreign-policy makers who have struggled to respond to the United States’ relative but steady decline in power. Russian aggression has also reinvigorated a moribund transatlantic alliance. The danger is that rather than develop a new paradigm for this era, policymakers will simply attempt to exhume an old “us versus them” Cold War model, shock it back to life, and put a tuxedo on it. As in the days after 9/11, a momentary sense of unity could be used to promote a set of tragically counterproductive policies.

So far, the Biden administration has delivered a robust but measured policy response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, rebuffing calls for more aggressive action that might be satisfying in the short term but could prove catastrophic down the road. Although the White House should be applauded for its judicious reaction to the Ukraine crisis, it also deserves scrutiny for failing to apply similar attention and effort in places where just as much is at stake.

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