United States foreign policy is a crucial point of debate for many politicians. President Joe Biden’s approach to international relations heavily contradicts former president Donald Trump’s, much to the dismay of many Americanists that, like Biden’s predecessor, believed in looking out for ourselves as a country outweighed any possible desire to cooperate for the international well being of ourselves as a whole. This “fend for yourself” Americanist approach may be desirable in the short term, but the degradation of important transnational political ties could pose a detriment to the United States in the foreseeable future. Biden’s globalization approach not only strengthens the United States as a whole, but also safeguards our future by the bringing together of nations for the common good of the world.
Many of the major issues that the nation faces at present are worldly issues as well. These problems are better solved through mutual cooperation towards a common goal as opposed to the every man for themselves outlook. Take Biden’s rejoining of the Paris Climate Agreement–an international accord that seeks to mitigate the effects of climate change–as an example. This agreement both provides a framework for countries involved to do their part and keep one another in check, but encourages countries not involved to pull their own weight as well. It is this amalgamation of countries that will drive the achievement of the goal rather than that of individual countries doing whatever they see fit in the moment.
Furthering this point, the unilateral outlook on defense may especially prove to be devastating to the security of the United States. The age old saying that there is strength in numbers becomes particularly true when dealing with mass forces such as entire countries. If this could be exemplified in the unification of the Allied powers to defeat the Axis powers in World War II, then the coalition of countries under a communal interest through globalization most certainly can be translated to the modern day war on terrorism, or even just general defense for run of the mill protection. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a prime example of the ability for just that.
Much of the opposition for globalization lies in the notion that a step back from the intense concentration on American supremacy might promote the loss of fundamental American interests. These ideas are fueled by the populist rhetoric of Americanist leaders like Trump, who spout that globalization consequently generates a lack of investment in the future of our own country–that it backtracks on the want for the United States to be the indispensable sovereign global superpower that it already is. In addition, the movement of the conservative party to the far right of the political spectrum, causing the extreme polarization of the opposing political ideals and subsequent debasement of the center right wing party, also contributes to the growth of the opposition towards globalization. The conservative versus liberal agendas have long been rooted in debates over the isolationist versus interventionist controversy according to Lipset, with isolationists being a large basis of the radical right party. The influx of the radical right in response to Trump’s rise to power produced the increase in the neo-isolationist Americanist ideas.
However, Americanist ideologies presenting this degree of autonomy can be dangerous, especially so when dealing with a country as prevalent in international relations and politics as the United States. This country has proven to be an integral keystone in much of the diplomacy that occurs, and it has done its fair share in actively reducing tension rather than vying away from it. The United States cannot afford to stand by and wait until their involvement benefits them directly. Rather, their efforts can be better put to use by working in conjunction with allies to constantly create peace.
All in all, Biden’s strategy of globalization may seem to the opposition as the derailment of the desire for the United States to continue being a global superpower, but the notion that the nation has to focus solely on its own personal wellbeing to be great is a false one. The promotion of bettering all countries–the United States included–can be accomplished through the conjoined efforts to reach common environmental goals, security desires, and much more. Neo-isolationism as exhibited through Americanist philosophies can only take a country so far, and eventually it will find itself without any other countries to lean on if they do fall. Globalization is the key to both protecting the United States itself, and securing the world that the nation resides in.
Photo by Joshua Hoehne, “Wave it” (Unsplash), Creative Commons Zero license.
Saundra, you make important points about the infeasibility of isolationism in today’s globalized world. Globalization took the world by storm in the late 1990s and as such we live in an extremely interconnected global society where countries inherently rely on each other at multiple levels. You point to economic, national security, and environmental cooperation all of which are essential today.
It is unfortunate that a growing number of U.S. politicians, predominantly on the more conservative side of the aisle, have been promoting a world view that sees the U.S. turning more inward. This view is especially detrimental given the U.S.’s central role in establishing the current interconnected international system.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a shining example of how interconnected we are, and, in my opinion, the U.S. and other Western democracies have fallen woefully short in their response. While there is no doubt that governments will always prioritize their own citizens, the hoarding of personal protective equipment and now of vaccine doses has created a staggeringly uneven playing field for developing countries attempting to respond to the pandemic. Given technological advancements in travel and the importance of global trade and business, there is no solution to the pandemic in which the U.S., or Western Europe can be “safe” from COVID-19 until the virus is under control globally.
The Biden Administration must take vigorous steps away from the previous administration’s isolationist stance to reassure the global community of the U.S.’s commitment to being a partner. This should not mean a return to American exceptionalism and a position of superiority. The U.S. must embrace the nonpolar, interconnected nature of today’s global society and contribute through partnership and, when necessary, leadership.