Biden Faces More Aggressive Rivals and a Fraying World Order
In a recent conversation, Sir John Scarlett, the elegant former spymaster of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, or M.I.6, pondered the foreign-policy challenges facing Joe Biden when he enters the White House—and the jarring differences since he left it four years ago. The bottom line, Scarlett told me, is that America’s adversaries are now “more assertive, aggressive, and self-confident.” Many of the threats were building in 2017, but they have escalated exponentially. As Biden returns to power in 2021, the variety and depth of hazards facing the United States—from nations and non-state militias, jihadi terrorists, drug lords, criminal syndicates, and hackers—are greater than at any time since the U.S. became a superpower after the Second World War.
From the beginning of the republic, not one of America’s forty-five previous Presidents has had it easy when he took office. Poor George Washington had to create the Presidency in a war-ravaged nation that was little more than a political experiment with limited financial resources, raging feuds among the Founding Fathers, and no international presence. America was so polarized when Abraham Lincoln took office that South Carolina had already seceded, and Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee soon followed. Woodrow Wilson simultaneously faced the First World War and the influenza pandemic, which killed more than a half million Americans and almost felled him, too. Franklin Roosevelt inherited the Great Depression and was then confronted by the Second World War.
Biden inherits a mess on both the domestic and international fronts, compounded by a pandemic that has produced mass death, rampant unemployment, and a global economic crisis. Read on....