We’re due for a major foreign policy realignment in Washington and a new president could make it happen.
Sep 29, 2015: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during a meeting with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in New York. (By Drop of Light/Shutterstock)
Barring a last-minute, groundbreaking shift in the vote tally, it looks like former vice president Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States. What this development means for foreign policy, however, is not yet clear.
While there have been a number of predictions made about what foreign policy will look like under a Biden administration, none of us can say with any certainty how U.S. grand strategy will evolve-if it does at all. As the next administration gets seated, stakeholders will offer recommendations on what challenges should tackled as urgent priorities. Others, who may serve in national security roles next year, will be tempted to avoid rocking the boat and be largely content with making small refinements at the margins. Liberal hegemony and interventionism, the engine of U.S. grand strategy since the end of the Cold War, will undoubtedly have plenty of support.
What the United States needs instead is a foreign policy doctrine of restraint-an underutilized playbook that would enhance our national security at a far less grandiose price tag.
Staying between the 48-yard lines may be the foreign policy establishment’s comfort zone. But for the rest of the country it hasn’t led to any considerable gains. If anything, the overall economic and military power of the U.S. has weakened as a result of excessive military adventurism and an inability (or unwillingness) to distinguish what America really needs and what it can live without. Restraint would finally force policymakers to actually set priorities and realistic goals, throwing out expensive, counterproductive interventions in the process. Just as important, restraint would base U.S. foreign policy choices on reality rather than idealistic ambition.
Whether the 2020