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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe AmericasThe War in Ukraine Calls for a Reset of Biden’s Foreign Policy

The War in Ukraine Calls for a Reset of Biden’s Foreign Policy

Author: Matthew Duss

Affiliation: Foreign Policy Adviser to US Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent, Vermont) 

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Affairs 

Date/Place: May 4, 2022 / New York, USA 

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 2304



Keywords: US, Ukraine, Russia, War, Democracy, Biden




The author explains that the United States needs a change in its foreign policy, to avoid following the post-9/11 path when the US and its allied countries made a series of catastrophically bad decisions. He indicates that with the Ukraine crisis, the real threat is that legislators will try to resurrect the old “us vs them” argument. Although the White House should be praised for its measured response to the Ukraine crisis, the US equally merits criticism for failing to devote the same level of attention and energy to situations where the risks are just as high. The author also states that the US should distinguish between the various sanctions it employs. Washington should tighten sanctions against regime decision-makers and deprive Russia of accessibility to resources that are critical to its war effort. However, wide-ranging sanctions that impoverish regular Russian workers by destroying the economy should be scrutinized more closely. He also focuses on the role of food scarcity caused by US sanctions that can escalate the conflict. The author suggests that the Biden administration and its partners be more explicit about the actions Russia must take to minimize sanctions. Another thing that can help—as several Ukrainian authorities have campaigned for—is that the US forgive its external debt. This also suggests that the United States’ strategy for international security should be broadened; a much-expanded foreign debt clearance scheme would place the US in a far stronger place to steer the resurgent transatlantic alliance toward more real and long-term unification. For the author, the Biden administration’s handling of the Ukraine highlights the areas where it has failed. The United States’ articulation of Russia’s war on Ukraine as a war ‘between democracy and autocracy’ ignores the fact that the struggle between democracy and autocracy is fought inside of states as well as among them, and it is questionable given Washington’s assistance for many autocracies, especially in the Middle East. If the US truly wants to promote democracy, it will listen to other perspectives and pledge to support a wider transfer of worldwide authority and prosperity as well as the creation of a more compassionate world order. He concludes by stating that the US administration’s Ukraine approach might usher in a fresh age of American dominance. However, if Biden’s only goal in Ukraine is to reinforce US supremacy, it will be the newest example of the US’ failure to reach the occasion.

By: Zeina Akef, CIGA Research Intern



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