Leslie Vinjamuri

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a news conference at the Filoli Estate on November 15, 2023 in Woodside, California, following his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Foreign policy issues seldom win an incumbent US President an election. But they can certainly lose them one, or at the very least feature heavily.

On 15 November President Joe Biden met President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit seeking to maintain diplomatic dialogue and prevent further deterioration of the relationship with China – whilst demonstrating his resolve to domestic audiences. It is a perilous balancing act.

It is almost exactly a year since the presidents last met at the G20 in Indonesia, after China had suspended cooperation in retaliation for Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport on October 18, 2023.(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

As President Biden travelled to Israel, news of the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians in a hospital in Gaza captured headlines, complicating a presidential visit that was bound to be fraught.

Israelis are already grieving the victims of the murderous surprise attacks on 7 October. Now footage of the dead and injured in Gaza, moments after the hospital blast, are playing on television screens worldwide and hundreds of people have protested in the West Bank.

President Biden’s trip to Israel this week follows a relentless round of diplomacy across the region by US Secretary of State Blinken.

The notion of a ‘ post-American Middle East’, with China displacing US power, seems remote.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York City, September 2023. Zak Bennett / Reuters

In September 2022, when world leaders met in New York for the previous edition of the UN General Assembly, much of the week was dominated by Western officials’ efforts to win over the so-called swing states—countries including India and South Africa that were sitting on the fence about the war in Ukraine. But many of these countries were not content to be part of an unreformed United States–led Western order. They refused to put their full support behind Kyiv, or even to support a resolution condemning Russia for its violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Instead, they favored an agenda that balanced their own national interests and principles.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie listen as former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley speaks during the second Republican presidential primary debate (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The second GOP debate, much like the first, took place in the shadow of Donald Trump. Despite the attacks made on the former president at the event, polling tells a clear story: two candidates, Trump and Biden, are lined up to win their respective party nominations.

The two leading candidates ignored the debate and continued to court voters. On Tuesday, President Biden became the first US president to join a picket line with members of the United Auto Workers Union. That both candidates took time to court white working-class voters in Michigan is a reminder that swing states continue to be play a pivotal role in US elections.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India welcomes US President Joe Biden to the G20 leaders' summit (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

This year’s G20 was about India. Or as foreign minister Dr S Jaishankar described it, India’s year-long leadership of the G20 was designed to get ‘India ready for the world, and the world ready for India.’

The other major G20 powers played a key role in India’s success, whether by default or design. Putin didn’t turn up. President Xi’s last-minute decision to absent himself from the summit deprived a global audience two days of ‘geopolitical stage watching’. This left the spotlight on the blooming US–India relationship.

President Joe Biden distinguished himself from his predecessor in the care he took not to upstage his host during the summit, his third meeting with Modi in only five months.…  Seguir leyendo »

Children blowing bubbles at a makeshift migrant camp in Loon-Plage, northern France. Photo by SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP via Getty Images.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington, one of only three state visits hosted by US President Joe Biden, casts a spotlight on a strategic partnership that has been more than two decades in the making, but has now taken on a new significance.

In the course of the last year, India has displaced the UK to become the fifth largest economy globally and replaced China as the most populous nation. In 2022, India was the fourth largest military spender in the world.

Combined with its position as the world’s largest democracy, a leader in technology and science, and a youthful nation, India makes for a compelling and attractive partner.…  Seguir leyendo »

US president Joe Biden delivers the 2023 State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, his first address to a new Republican-controlled House. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Trade and economics are key areas to watch

Daniel W. Drezner

Russia’s absence from the Munich Security Conference will allow US and European policymakers to brag about their flourishing partnership. The past year has seen repeated predictions of a fracturing transatlantic relationship – only to see repeated agreement on how to sanction Russia and which arms to ship to Ukraine.

Putin invaded because he thought the West was divided. Events have proven him wrong. When one takes a step back, however, and examines the Biden administration’s embrace of geoeconomics, Putin’s assumption becomes easier to comprehend.

The strongest throughline between the Trump and Biden administrations has been their shared mindset on weaponized interdependence.…  Seguir leyendo »

US president Joe Biden during a meeting with Japan prime minister Kishida Fumio on their strategic relationship in the Indo-Pacific, at the White House's Oval Office. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.

Although primarily a domestic affair, the president’s remarks in the annual State of the Union (SOTU) telegraph the US’s foreign policy priorities to the rest of the world. They reveal the prism through which the US understands its national security and its role in the world.

The 2023 address comes as the first anniversary of the Ukraine invasion rapidly approaches, and the US is also trying to build international support for tough economic measures towards China. Domestically, Republican control of the House of Representatives will exert new pressure on US foreign policy choices. Electoral pressures are also around the corner and Joe Biden should announce soon whether he plans to run for president in 2024.…  Seguir leyendo »

Full voting booths at Denver East High School on November 8, 2022 in Denver, Colorado in the midterm elections to decide close races across the US. Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images.

For a president continually struggling with low approval ratings, the midterms provided a stunning result as the widely anticipated Republican red wave failed to materialize.

Although Democrats look set to lose their majority in the House, it is by a much smaller margin than either history or today’s pollsters anticipated. However, the counting continues and, although the Democrats are now leading in the race to win a majority in the Senate, confirmation of this hinges on the final result in Nevada and could even come down to a 6 December run-off in Georgia.

The midterm elections were not good for the Republican party but were especially bad for Donald Trump who has until now managed to defy expectations and maintain his grip on the party even after his 2020 defeat at the polls.…  Seguir leyendo »

The UN headquarters building in New York City, March 2022. Carlo Allegri / Reuters

The 77th High Level session of the UN General Assembly is the first time the gathering of global leaders has been fully in person since the pandemic began. In the intervening period, the world seems to have slid backward. Global fault lines have deepened. Mistrust between the United States and China has grown as a result of disputes about the origins of COVID-19, China’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, and tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea. China’s decision to indulge Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine has solidified the sense of a world divided into two camps, with NATO and the West on one side and Russia and China and their acolytes on the other.…  Seguir leyendo »

10 Downing Street in London, United Kingdom as seen on 05 September 2022 as Liz Truss was announced as the UK's next prime minister. Photo: Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

It says something of the UK that the incoming prime minister has ordered a rewrite of British foreign policy barely 18 months after the last one was published.

Liz Truss, who has become the fourth prime minister in Downing Street in six turbulent years, is not prone to risk aversion or offering bland reassurances. She made clear during the campaign for the Conservative leadership that she wants the 2021 Integrated Review redrawn with a far greater focus on combating the ‘growing malign influence’ of Russia and China. She has also pledged to increase defence spending from its current 2.1 per cent of GDP, to 2.7 per cent, and then to 3 per cent by 2030, which will include more support for the intelligence services and cyber security, a further £10 billion overall at a time when public finances are in dire straits.…  Seguir leyendo »

US Speaker of the House Of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, poses with Taiwan President, Tsai Ing-wen, in Taipei, Taiwan on 3 August 2022. Photo: Handout/Getty Images.

China’s fading ties with Washington?

Dr Yu Jie

US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s, visit to Taiwan has plunged China-US relations into a new low as the reservoir of trust forged between the two sides over the last 40 years appears to be almost exhausted.

However, her move will likely not result in the full-scale crisis across the Taiwan strait that some hawkish voices in both Beijing and Washington believe. Instead, Beijing will most likely offer a combination of military posturing toward the US navy and economic sanctions on Taiwanese agricultural and manufacturing products in order to send a clear bellwether to any future potential visits by high-level Western political figures.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson after signing the Brexit trade deal in London, December 2020. Leon Neal / Reuters

The Tory leadership race, which will determine who becomes the next U.K. prime minister, looks to be a barnburner. Polls show that Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs Liz Truss is leading former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, but it is unclear by how much. The campaigning continues as both candidates aggressively vie for the votes of Conservative Party members, who will determine the winner.

Whoever prevails, however, may find it a Pyrrhic victory. For six years and counting, the United Kingdom has been mired in the politics of Brexit, and many people believe that the country is more divided than it was before the referendum.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Joe Biden holds hands with Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after delivering the 2022 State of the Union address his first State of the Union address. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

As President Joe Biden delivered the State of the Union address, a Russian convoy was approaching the outskirts of Kyiv. Earlier in the day, a TV tower was attacked and missiles had descended on the graves of thousands of Jewish citizens killed by the Nazis. Such brutal attacks not only underscore Putin’s utter contempt for Ukraine’s sovereignty and disregard for civilian immunity, but also his rejection of the European security order and determination Ukraine would not join it.

Biden’s reference to the ‘wall of strength’ Putin encountered when he ‘met the Ukrainian people’ elicited an outburst of approval in the US Congress which harked back to an era of bipartisanship in foreign policy which has since vanished.…  Seguir leyendo »

The skyline of lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center as the sun rises in New York City as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey. Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images.

Creating better global governance is possible

Dr Anne-Marie Slaughter

The Biden administration’s foreign policy achievements can be divided into great power achievements and global achievements. In the great power category, the administration has shored up the military balance of power against China by strengthening the Quad – Japan, India, Australia, and the US – and creating a new military configuration of the US, the UK, and Australia, even as it created a serious rift with France. The Biden team is also pushing back hard against Russia, certainly in the cybersphere, and has reopened negotiations to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protests in Chicago, Illinois during the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, found not guilty of all charges in two fatal shootings and one wounding during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

As Joe Biden approaches the end of his first year in office, his policy record is impressive on paper and in line with his campaign promises. History may one day define him as a leader who transformed Americans’ expectations of government, created structures for reducing persistent, high levels of inequality, and redefined the US role in the world.

But today, the story looks very different and Biden’s approval ratings are hovering at around 40 per cent. The president’s popularity appears impervious to his successes in passing legislation, even for measures with high levels of public support for a long period of time.…  Seguir leyendo »

UK prime minister Boris Johnson visits the Colosseum during the 2021 G20 summit in Rome, Italy. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

Success at Glasgow depends on bridging fault lines

Renata Dwan

The G20 summit’s lack of progress on climate highlights the scale of the challenge – and the stakes – for COP26.  The countries responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions recognized but failed to agree concrete action to limit global warming to 1.5C.

The leaders’ gathering reveals multilateralism’s fault lines. One is the tension between domestic politics and international priorities, reflected in the lack of ambition to reduce coal dependency.  The second is the tension between industrialized and developing states over responsibility for delivering global goods.

The G20 failed to endorse the G7’s pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or to accelerate the mobilization of previously agreed climate financing.…  Seguir leyendo »

US president Joe Biden addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 21, 2021 in New York. Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images.

Joe Biden’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was certainly powerful, proclaiming the world is at ‘an inflection point in history’, underscoring the urgency of challenges which ‘hold the keys to our collective future’, stating democracy is ‘everywhere’ and remains the best tool to ‘unleash our full human potential’, and rejecting allegations that the US is seeking a Cold War.

But as he approaches the final quarter of his first year as US president, Biden’s sheer determination to deliver on his own foreign policy priorities is apparent, as are the implications of them for the closest partners of the US.…  Seguir leyendo »

A US soldier stands with a bouquet of flowers among headstones of those killed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images.

Afghanistan goals were laudable but open-ended

Sir Simon Fraser

The outcome in Afghanistan should not have been a surprise, even if the way it happened was a shock. For foreign policy in general, and foreign military interventions in particular, it is essential to be clear about goals and the capacity to deliver. In Afghanistan, the US and its allies have fallen short on both these counts.

This is a serious reversal for the US and its closest allies, but not a strategic disaster. The threat from Islamist terror will increase, but its significance is sometimes exaggerated and, to some extent, can be addressed by other means.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghans queue to board a US military aircraft to leave Afghanistan at the military airport in Kabul after the Taliban's takeover. Photo by SHAKIB RAHMANI/AFP via Getty Images.

The urgent humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan is of the utmost priority, so getting distracted by a blame game risks a dire situation getting worse and further undermines the credibility of the US and European commitment to protecting democracy and human rights.

Since Kabul fell to the Taliban, the ground for political debate has been moving quickly – the ‘first order’ debate about whether the US should have stayed in Afghanistan already feels remote, and now the search is on to understand the US failure to predict the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan.

Claims are widespread that senior State Department officials were warned Kabul could collapse if US troops withdrew and that the CIA provided evidence of the Taliban’s growing strength – all providing fodder to partisan division.…  Seguir leyendo »