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Can Antony Blinken Update Liberal Foreign Policy for a World Gone Mad?

David Montgomery in the Washington Post considers the new approach to foreign policy taken by the Biden Administration and the potential role to be played by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in supporting it. The Trump Administration did profound damage to America's place and credibility when it comes to international diplomacy, a perception not helped by the debacle surrounding the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Russia's unjustified invasion of Ukraine and China's increased investments in developed or rapidly developing communities in Latin America and Africa stress the importance of a strong and trustworthy US foreign policy. President Biden has placed democracy promotion and a new cooperative approach at the centre of his foreign policy, seeking to innovate in longstanding networks, and build new cooperative architectures in Asia and the Pacific. However, in many areas crucial to developing countries, communities now look to the EU and China for leadership, and in international diplomacy discussions, the US now sits among its peers, rather than sitting at the head of the table, a markedly changed position from the past.

Problems remain in the attempts by Biden and Blinken to harmonise its cooperative and humble new approach to foreign policy with existing American structures, which have largely been directed by dictated approaches informed by American self-interest. Fortunately, Blinken recognises this changed dynamic, focussing on harnessing confidence and humility, whereby the US will recognise that it cannot decide upon outcomes, but also knows that it possesses a strong capacity to mobilise internationally in positive collective action. Montgomery points to issues with the December 2021 Summit for Democracy and the June 2022 Summit of the Americas, which have created much controversy around invite lists while yielding few concrete results.

Key to the approach to US foreign policy taken by Antony Blinken moving forward will be openness and transparency, both in its efforts to promote democracy abroad and especially at home. Blinken emphasises that the focus on democracy will not be a command for countries, but an important alternative choice to be presented, marking a significant break with the approaches to democracy promotion taken by previous administrations.

Read the full piece here in the Washington Post.