The United States Needs a Democracy Summit at Home

The United States Needs a Democracy Summit at Home

Biden’s Foreign Policy Agenda Will Depend on Domestic Renewal

It seemed like something straight out of a dystopian movie. Incited by the outgoing president of the United States, insurrectionists waving Confederate and Trump flags broke through the barricades surrounding the U.S. Capitol, scaled the stairs, and stormed through the legislative branch complex, including the chamber where members had just been meeting to certify the presidential vote. The scenes at the heart of American democracy were hard to comprehend, and yet given the nature of Donald J. Trump’s presidency and its Republican enablers, few should have been surprised at the American carnage at the end of these four years.

Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president at noon on January 20, with the expressed hope of declaring that “America is back.” But the new president will face a world that has tremendous reservations about whether the country that has held the mantle of world leadership since World War II should continue to do so. While U.S. allies in NATO and in Asia will be relieved that a committed internationalist will once again lead the United States, the views we have expressed previously in these pages—that global leadership is not an American entitlement and Biden’s plan to host a global “Summit for Democracy” will create more problems than benefits—have been profoundly reinforced by this week’s Battle of Capitol Hill.

After 9/11, the United States received supportive messages from allies, with NATO invoking its Article 5 collective security provision for the first time. This week, allies expressed shock and dismay. Most pointedly, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted that “the enemies of democracy will be happy to see these incredible pictures from #WashingtonDC.” No other Western democracy has witnessed anything close to this type of political violence in recent years.