"Fixing" US foreign policy isn't the real challenge Biden would face

Josh Rogin's Washington Post op-ed argues that Donald Trump's assault on US foreign policy could take decades to repair. But Rogin gives Trump too much credit and misses the real challenge to American global leadership. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Jeffrey Wright use The Red Pen to keep the op-ed honest.

Today, we're taking our red pen to an op-ed from the Washington Post written by Josh Rogin, a columnist for the Global Opinions section.

The piece is called "U.S. foreign policy might be too broken for Biden to fix" it. I mean, we could start with the title--which encapsulates just how much we feel Josh overstates the damage done in the past four years and fails to recognize the resilience of US institutions in general.


But let's get specific.

Number one, Rogin writes that President Trump has attacked "the previous bipartisan consensus that the United States has a unique duty to lead a global world order based on the advancement of freedom, human rights and the rule of law."

Hey, Josh—the Iraq War, GITMO, and drone strikes are calling. They want you to know America acted unilaterally long before Trump became President. It's true. President Trump was the first to say "America First" out loud—(I mean, since we tried to stay out of WWII, that is)--but it's far from a new philosophy.

Remember the Iraq War, Guantanamo, and drone strikes? The US has often acted unilaterally.

Number two, on the point of Trump potentially having broken the systems critical to diplomacy, he writes, "It could take decades to repair the institutions Trump intentionally damaged…"

Now sure, Trump gutted the State Department and he's clogged up the World Trade Organization, and this is…a bad thing. Though we'd argue the institutions are resilient and it won't take decades for them to bounce back, if we want to actually rebuild them. While others, so far, he's talked a big game, but hasn't done very much—take NATO, the IMF, the United Nations, even the World Health Organization.

Institutions are resilient. They won't take decades to bounce back.

On Iran, Rogin writes "Biden can't return to the Iran deal but won't be able to strike a new one.

Who says? I mean, I'm not saying a new deal with Iran will be easy (the last one wasn't, and it wasn't exactly comprehensive), but Biden is going to resume negotiations (if he becomes president) and will have broad international support for doing so. Plus, Iran is in far more desperate economic shape now than they were four years ago. They're incented.

Biden is poised to resume negotiations. Won't be easy, but it can be done.

I also think there's a big point about the United States that Rogin's article ignores. The barriers to becoming the world's policeman again aren't just partisanship—or because of Trump's presidency or GOP leadership in Congress. Polls consistently show that Americans are tired of so-called "endless wars" and extensive international engagement. There's also real discontent about US trade policy--which many feel hasn't done much to help everyday Americans.

Joe Biden, should he win on November 3 or later, will face major challenges in restoring global leadership—but they aren't just coming from Republicans or Trump supporters. He would have to overcome domestic political opposition—including from a lot of Democrats—if he wants to set the nation on a different path.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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28: The UK and the EU have again failed to agree on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In a 28-page document, the British government had suggested further changes to trade rules that were already negotiated as part of the Brexit settlement, but Brussels was not having any of it.

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