America Returns to the World Stage

By Frank-Jürgen Richter

February 21, 2021

On January 6, 2021, the world watched in shock as an unruly mob was egged on by President Donald Trump to “fight like hell” in what would become a siege of the highest seat of the US Congress, resulting in the death of five persons and destruction of public property. Most importantly, it resulted in the loss of reputation globally for the self-professed “greatest democracy in the world”.

Through the hubris of claims of the election being stolen, to baseless accusations being hurled of the elections being fraudulent without any evidence, and even attempts at overturning the results in a key state which was caught on a recorded call – the new administration was sworn in on January 20, 2021. 

Across America and around the world, millions tuned in to watch the inauguration of the Biden administration and to witness the fact that democracy had triumphed. As the congratulations poured in, there was a clear emergence of a theme: “America is back”. Horasis thinks so too, and to this effect, Horasis is organizing the “Horasis Extraordinary Meeting on the United States of America”. This all-virtual event will bring leaders from different fields of expertise to find solutions to pressing issues that plague us today.

Repairing the Damage

Within a day, 17 executive orders were signed to reverse some of the most divisive, controversial, and unscientific decisions of the previous administration. This included actions in four broad categories – the pandemic, economic struggles, immigration and diversity issues, and the environment and climate change. 

For starters, the US rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization are very encouraging first steps, given the continuing and drastic impact of both the pandemic and climate change on lives and the planet. While a lot remains to be done on both these fronts, to have US participation on ways to tackle them will be beneficial for all concerned.

America’s image across friends and allies has suffered immensely in the recent past. The handling of the pandemic has plummeted its image even further. In fact, in almost every country surveyed, majorities have an unfavorable view of the US. Given the experience of the new administration in international affairs, all eyes are once again back on the US to repair ties, repose faith, and like President Biden said at his inauguration: “We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.” 

As uncertainties around the world continue with respect to the pandemic and economic turmoil, the hope that nations will engage, deliberate and resolve issues in a cordial way is once again on the cards. And that is a promising change from all the rhetoric of the recent past.

Multilateralism Could Be Rejuvenated

As the US retreated in the last four years, nations across the world progressed in their relationships without the US. With the US now very in much in the fold, a change of administration in Washington could mean an added boost for global ties and multilateralism. As China stamps its name as the new champion of multilateralism, it will be interesting to see how the US reclaims its position as a leader of multilateralism and how it engages with China. What the trade and tech wars have clearly shown is that there are no winners. In fact, both sides stand to lose with several others being torn apart in the process.

As the US starts re-engaging with the world, one thing is certain; multilateralism alone can ensure a shared vision of prosperity. Recent events and the handling of the pandemic in many countries has proven that unilateral approaches to global problems can achieve little. A united and coordinated effort can help prevent the next calamity. What the new administration in Washington promises is that America is ready to engage with the world and that diplomacy is back.

Given America’s and its allies’ interests in Asia-Pacific, the world will also be looking at how the US engages with the region. With China’s importance growing in the region, will the US be able to revive its position as a counter-balance to Chinese ambitions? While we find out what will eventually transpire, it is certain that the US will move to engage more deeply with the region. For sure, this too will come with disagreements and flashpoints, but dialogue and diplomacy will help ease tensions rather than anger and knee-jerk reactions – and that is the big change the world can expect from the Biden presidency.

As citizens of the world, it is comforting to know that once again global affairs and foreign policy will be conducted with a multilateral approach.

The Future is Promising

As the world hopes to defeat COVID-19 and its economic fallouts, the US and the Biden administration will have a key role to play in how the world builds back better. While it is no easy task, the initial signs are extremely encouraging. Markets too were optimistic – with share prices rising in the US, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Britain, South Korea and Shanghai in optimism of the new administration’s support to tackle the US economy.

The tasks at hand for the Biden administration is immense. We have a divided America, a chaotic international order, a raging pandemic, and an economic blowout. The good news for the US and the world is that we have an administration that is possibly up to the task.