President Joe Biden took office with an ambitious foreign policy agenda summed up by his favorite campaign tagline: “America is back.” Above all, that will mean repairing the damage done to America’s global standing by his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.
Aid and Development Archive
Two earthquakes on Feb. 6 have so far killed more than 35,000 and injured tens of thousands more in southern Turkey and northwestern Syria. But while the disasters were natural, not all of the fallout was: The humanitarian catastrophe caused by the earthquakes has been worsened by corruption, politics and geopolitical rivalries.
The United Nations’ ability to carry out its mission has been severely constrained in recent years by its member states. And many of its agencies are now facing funding shortages that could severely curtail their work. In fact, multilateralism of all stripes is under strain, from the International Criminal Court to the World Trade Organization—to the World Health Organization.
Could the horrors of the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday be accompanied by a slim silver lining? Could the international humanitarian efforts in response translate into lasting repairs of destabilizing diplomatic rifts? The evidence from history suggests that it’s complicated. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Last month, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang continued a decades-long tradition of Chinese foreign ministers starting the year with a trip to Africa. The visit comes at a time of ramped up engagement between African states and the U.S., highlighting the U.S. tendency to characterize Africa’s relations with China in patronizing terms.