A new beginning: American foreign policy in the next four years


Over the past four years, the liberal international order had encountered its greatest challenge since its creation. Under Donald Trump's America First policies, America withdrew from the World Health Organization(WHO), paralyzed the World Trade Organization(WTO), and pulled out from many major multilateral treaties. The framework that America upheld since World War II almost seems to be coming to an end.


However, Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20 assured allies that America First policies would not be the new norm in American foreign policy but a mere hiatus. As an experienced politician who served 12 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden's presidency indicates America's return to its position as the leader of the liberal order. On the first day as the President of the United States, he overturned Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the WHO and rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement. Although it is still a long way from undoing Donald Trump's disastrous foreign policies, it marks the beginning of America's return to the Pre-Trump normality.


Reestablishing security and economic ties with European and East Asian allies should be on top of Joe Biden's foreign policy agenda. For the past four years, America under the Trump administration had acted like a protection racket towards allies in Europe and East Asia. Donald Trump demanded allies to substantially increase the amount paid to host American military presence or else he will withdraw troops from the host country. Such threats cast doubt about America's commitment to collective security, a fundamental principle of America's liberal hegemony. America's global military presence not only provides economic and political stability to regions but also serves as a foundation for democracies to flourish.


Restoring allies' faith in the international economic order is equally significant. The United States had mostly abandoned the WTO in solving trade disputes under the Trump administration; it had unilaterally raised tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods without consulting the organization. The US needs to repair WTO's legitimacy and reform rules to make the organization more suitable for resolving trade disputes(especially controversial issues like export and industrial subsidies rules).