Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s recent meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden was framed as a reaffirmation of the two countries’ recently battered democracies. But if Lula seems like a good fit for Biden’s narrative of a global battle between democracy and autocracy, he also underscores the limitations of this narrative.
Amid competition and trade tensions, U.S.-China relations are at a low point. The path forward is treacherous, and how Washington chooses to navigate it will shape not only current events, but possibly the century ahead. The U.S. has three options for how it approaches Beijing going forward: It can oppose China, embrace it or ignore it.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos recently announced that Manila will implement a defense agreement signed with the U.S. in 2014 and grant U.S. forces access to additional military bases. After six years of acrimonious relations, the Philippines is poised once again to play a pivotal role in Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy.
Last week, after China flew a spy balloon over at least three Latin American countries, the region responded with uncharacteristic silence. For a region that is often obsessed with perceived violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the unwillingness to speak out against China’s airspace incursion is striking.
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.
Attempts to construct narratives of a golden age of U.S. support for free trade reflect anxieties that Washington’s current focus on subsidies and buy-American clauses could undermine the U.S.-led liberal international order. But this yearning for a golden age of free trade glosses over a much more complex reality.
Washington has recently stepped up engagement with Africa, focusing on areas such as investment, climate adaptation and health. But good governance is necessary for progress to be made on these other important issues. That should be reflected in the language U.S. officials use to discuss them, but so far it has been absent.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. has made alliance-management its top priority in Europe, and the extent of Western cohesion over the past year has underscored the degree to which those efforts have paid off. Yet after one year of war, U.S. leadership has encountered a paradox: It is too successful for its own good.
Since succeeding Donald Trump, Joe Biden has sought to repair the damage Trump did to a wide range of traditional U.S. foreign policy objectives, particularly when it came to reassuring U.S. allies and partners around the world. But Biden has left one thing he inherited form Trump relatively untouched: trade policy.