President-elect Joe Biden appears to be framing his foreign policy around three themes: re-engaging with America’s friends and allies, renewing our participation in international organizations and relying more heavily on nonmilitary instruments of power. Considering the challenges posed by China and other countries, as well as transnational threats that range from pandemics to climate change, these are, in my view, the correct priorities. (Though, of course, unparalleled military power must remain the backdrop for America’s relations with the world.)
In each case, however, a return to the pre-Trump status quo will be inadequate to the task. In each, it is necessary to reform, revitalize and restructure the American approach.
Our NATO allies, as well as Japan, South Korea and others, will welcome America’s reaffirmation of its security commitments and its switch to respectful dialogue after the confrontational Trump years. But the new administration ought to insist on our allies doing more on several fronts. President Trump’s pressure on them to spend more on defense was a continuation of a theme across multiple presidencies. That pressure must continue.
But it’s not just on military spending that the new administration needs to take a tough stand with allies. Germany must be held to account not just for its pathetic level of military spending, but also for trading the economic and security interests of Poland and Ukraine for the economic benefits of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline running from Russia to Germany.
Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system against repeated American warnings must have costs. (Recently imposed sanctions are a good start.) And Ankara must also be held to account for its actions in Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and Syria that contravene the interests of other NATO allies and complicate efforts to achieve peace. Actions by member states contrary to the interests of other allies ought not be ignored.
New York Times