Analysis & Opinions - Project Syndicate

Can Joe Biden’s America Be Trusted?

| Dec. 04, 2020

Friends and allies have come to distrust the United States. Trust is closely related to truth, and President Donald Trump is notoriously loose with the truth. All presidents have lied, but never on such a scale that it debases the currency of trust. International polls show that America's soft power of attraction has declined sharply over Trump's presidency.

Can President-elect Joe Biden restore that trust? In the short run, yes. A change of style and policy will improve America's standing in most countries. Trump was an outlier among US presidents. The presidency was his first job in government, after spending his career in the zero-sum world of New York City real estate and reality television, where outrageous statements hold the media's attention and help you control the agenda.

In contrast, Biden is a well-vetted politician with long experience in foreign policy derived from decades in the Senate and eight years as vice president. Since the election, his initial statements and appointments have had a profoundly reassuring effect on allies.

Trump's problem with allies was not his slogan "America First." As I argue in Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump, presidents are entrusted with promoting the national interest. The important moral issue is how a president defines the national interest....

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For Academic Citation:

Nye, Joseph S. Jr."Can Joe Biden's America Be Trusted?" Project Syndicate, December 4, 2020.