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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/11/21

Biden's Realism Represents a Second Chance

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Message Jason Sibert

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After 20 years our country has finally left Afghanistan.

Some are talking about how restrained President Joe Biden's foreign policy is. Writers Joshua Shifrinson and Stephen Wertheim addressed Biden's realism, a foreign policy school where states are self-serving political entities, in their story "Biden the Realist: The President's Foreign Policy Doctrine Has Been Hiding in Plain Sight."

Biden ordered the Defense Department to conduct a "global posture review" of the United States' forward deployments. If the review acts on the insight of General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, that many existing deployments were "developed during the Cold War," it could recommend a significant restructuring of the U.S. military footprint. The administration has already signaled its intention to "right-size" the U.S. military presence in the Middle East and has recently begun that process by pulling antimissile systems out of Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Biden may also become the first president in three decades to avoid the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance: he has soft-pedaled talk of extending NATO membership to Ukraine, although he has continued to send military aid to the country.

On the other hand, Biden said human rights will be a cornerstone of his foreign policy and stated our country will host "Summits for Democracy," as other liberal democracies will attend and promote the model as a contrast to illiberal democracy and authoritarianism. The administration has deepened ties with authoritarian states such as Thailand and Vietnam and illiberal democracies such as India and the Philippines. Of course, without glorifying the model. The planned summits reflect the fact that Biden supports democracy, liberal values, and human rightswithout thinking they should be promoted at the point of a gun or dictate U.S. defense obligations.

Shifrinson and Wertheim said that the Biden administration will also downsize its footprint in Europe and avoid an excessively militarized approach to Asia. The administration should embrace calls for a European Defense Force, and this would save our country money badly needed for domestic renewal.

This new approach, defined by taking military pressure off key points in the world, is perfectly compatible with arms control as a method of security. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently urged China to join international efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons amid concerns that the Asian superpower is rapidly developing missiles capable of carrying atomic warheads. Stoltenberg voiced support for both China and Russia being involved in the talks. Stoltenberg said: "As a global power, China has global responsibilities in arms control. And Beijing, too, would benefit from mutual limits on numbers, increased transparency, and more predictability. These are the foundations for international stability."

In the years following the Cold War, it's been a mistake for the U.S. to try to dominate the globe through a series of forward deployments such as Afghanistan and Iraq. It was also a mistake to expand NATO to the borders of Russia. It kicked off a counterbalancing act with the country. These moves made the world a less lawful place. Perhaps an arms control breakthrough with China will forge a new path toward a world governed by law.

Jason Sibert is the Executive Director of the Peace Economy Project in St. Louis.

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Jason Sibert worked for the Suburban Journals in the St. Louis area as a staff writer for a decade. His work has been published in a variety of publications since then and he is currently the executive director of the Peace Economy Project.
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