Sacrificing His Core Supporters in a Race Against Defeat
For U.S. allies, the Trump years were traumatic. No American president had ever treated the United States’ closest partners with the sheer contempt that Donald Trump evinced—at least not publicly. As Mira Rapp-Hooper wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2020: “Unlike previous presidents, who privately pressed U.S. allies to contribute more to the security relationship, Trump engages in the public and arbitrary coercion of U.S. allies, making extravagant spending demands and stating that the United States will abandon them if they do not pay up.”
Joe Biden pledged to restore the relationships that Trump pushed to the breaking point. “America is back,” he promised. “I’ve spoken with the leaders of many of our closest friends,” Biden declared shortly after taking office, “to [begin] reforming the habits of cooperation and rebuilding the muscle of democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years of neglect and, I would argue, abuse.”
One year into his presidency, how much progress has Biden made? In this ongoing series, Foreign Affairs takes a close look at the state of Washington’s relationships with some of its most important allies.