The three pillars of US foreign policy under Biden

The three pillars of US foreign policy under Biden

The world is watching the US presidential election with horror: a process in which the incumbent seems determined to convince his base that any outcome other than a win for him means the election was rigged. A Joe Biden victory would reassure most foreign leaders that such chaos, at least, is over. But how much would US foreign policy actually change? In style, dramatically. In action, substantially but not completely.

The US would re-embrace multilateralism and reach out to allies and partners with renewed vigour. But it would still be more inwardly focused. It would return to the global fold on the necessity of combating climate change, pandemics and other global threats. But it would still embrace great power competition and focus on China as its main rival. It would substitute a values-based foreign policy for a power-based approach. But it would not return troops to Syria or Afghanistan and would remain sceptical about foreign intervention.

Articles by Mr Biden and those likely to hold senior foreign policy posts in his administration suggest that the pillars of his foreign policy can be captured by three Ds: Domestic, Deterrence and Democracy. These categories contain lots of sub-policies, but they are general principles guiding the investment of time and resources.