Henry Kissinger wrote that when Richard Nixon took office in 1969, he found the country on the brink of civil war. Joseph Biden Jr., the 46th president of the United States, will not find a much more favorable situation, and he will have to concentrate a lot of his energy and efforts on it in the first months of his presidency.
It will not be easy to heal the wounds currently afflicting the American nation, beginning with the major public health issue, glaring social and racial inequalities, the difficulties of economic recovery and the deep political divide that has truly created two Americas that are at odds with each other. The crises faced by the U.S. are such that the country seems to need a plan as bold and decisive as the New Deal that President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced following the Great Depression at the end of the 1920s, or as that led by President Lyndon B. Johnson with his Great Society in 1964.
At the same time, Biden will have to rethink America’s international role and stance. Admittedly, there are currently certain characteristics of the international system that will not change with the new president’s inauguration. Specifically, this is the case with growing support for China and the centrality of the Asia-Pacific region. But the position of the United States in addressing these challenges will certainly be different from what it has been in the last four years.
Biden and his administration will need to restore a cooperative and diplomatic stance, in particular with their Atlantic allies, promote convergence among the democracies, regain the multilateral spirit and reestablish some of the priorities left on the back burner, such as the environment and climate change. Biden will quickly need to discover not just what he can do for his country, but also what he can do for the world.
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