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.
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.
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 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.