President Joe Biden at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, November 2021
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

From the day he announced his candidacy to become president of the United States, Joe Biden has emphasized that his mission was nothing less than to save the American republic. As he said in his campaign’s launch video, “The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy . . . is at stake.”

Biden meant to underscore the threat that former President Donald Trump posed to the United States’ own democratic institutions. But Biden’s concern about democracy also served as the natural framing for his foreign policy. In an international environment in which authoritarians were rapidly

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