Back in the day, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill spent weeks in the White House to get closer to US President Roosevelt and convince him to wage war together against the Nazi regime.
In reality, Churchill did not need to win over Roosevelt who was already sold on the importance of the US foreign policy to protect itself in an increasingly changing and dangerous world. The only obstacle standing in his way was internal parties that promoted isolationism and were unwilling to get involved internationally in endless wars.
But then the Pearl Harbor attack provided the perfect excuse. It is even rumored that Churchill went to sleep that night saying, “We won the war.”
That was the starting point for the American world order, which arose from the ruins of the collapsed European order. The US established a liberal world order, subjugated aggressive powers such as Germany and Japan, and entered into a long cold war with the Soviet Union ending with the latter’s collapse, which some people celebrated as the end of history.
All Republican and Democrat presidents after Roosevelt have maintained this order. They waged wars and concluded peace deals to maintain this world order that serves US critical interests, while also achieving the greatest economic prosperity and political stability in the world. In fact, seven decades went by without any clash between the superpowers.
For instance, President Kennedy entered the Vietnam War to combat communism and the vision it sought to impose on the world. President Nixon concluded a major peace deal with China to bring it into the world order through capitalism. Prior to that, President Eisenhower announced the Eisenhower Doctrine aimed at expanding the American Western camp and gaining more allies.
He even thwarted the 1956 war for this reason and to attract President Abdel Nasser. President Bush helped liberate Kuwait under the same principle, considering Saddam Hussein to have overstepped his limits and that the US had to protect the world order. President Bush Jr. also waged a successful, destructive war against Al-Qaeda because it sought to rule the world and impose its religious beliefs.
Even President Obama, who had a different viewpoint and was less enthusiastic about a US-led world order, could not get out of it. He concluded a deal with Tehran, his forces remained in Afghanistan until his departure, and he fought a successful drone war against terrorist organizations to weaken them and ultimately kill their leader, Osama bin Laden.
Then came Trump whose opponents’ propaganda falsely claimed that he had shaken the world order and weakened its military shield, i.e. NATO.
The Trump administration assassinated Soleimani and Al-Baghdadi, the deadliest terrorists in recent decades who led extremist militias to destabilize the region and the world order. More importantly, Trump significantly weakened the Iranian regime and concluded critical peace deals to strengthen the 75-year-old liberal American order.
So, despite his internal partisan Twitter war, Trump followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, confronting opponents and concluding peace deals, with the same goal and without shaking NATO’s position.
This brings us to President-elect Biden who, as he himself confirmed, will take a page out of the playbook of previous American presidents. He is a realistic politician and a firm believer in liberalism.
Biden believes that his success abroad depends on a single aspect: Will the liberal order become stronger after his term? In a speech in Davos, Biden called for the defense of liberalism, and he presented a historical view of the dismal world that the US inherited post-World War II.
The US ended old wars and created a fairer historical path thanks to its allies, international institutions, and the enemies it turned into friends to contribute to its construction and ultimately support it.
From Roosevelt to Biden, this is the classical American approach. Any divergence from this path would simply be heretical. Biden strongly believes in this school of thought and its political role in US and world history. Therefore, he will not be the long-awaited political and ideological renegade promoted by militia theorists, extremist organizations, and science fiction enthusiasts.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.