• The slogan "diplomacy is back" is equally meaningless.... Diplomacy is a method of pursuing the goals of a policy. So if those goals are wrong and unjust, pursuing them through diplomacy would be a way of paving the road to hell.
  • The key question is whether Biden regards China as an enemy or just a competitor that breaks some rules.
  • On Yemen, Biden forgets that the war started during Obama's presidency with full US support and endorsement by the United Nations, with the aim of restoring that country's legitimate government. Biden does not make it clear whether or not he still subscribes to that aim, or if he does, what he intends to do about it.
  • Burma is a tale of how cynical jackboots sold the Obama-Biden team a bill of goods to gain time for a brutal comeback.

Will President Joe Biden be able to shake off the ghosts of his predecessors and develop a foreign policy that goes beyond shibboleths to feed the mainstream media?

Even before Joe Biden was sworn in as President, speculation was rife regarding the direction that US foreign policy might take under his command. Some observers speculated that he would simply return to the path traced and tested by his former boss, President Barack Obama.

Others, reminding us that as a lifelong foreign policy wonk, Biden wouldn't be satisfied with doing an Obama, that is to say dodging issues, leading from behind, and, as Hillary Clinton once observed, making a speech each time there was a crisis.

One thing everyone agreed upon, however, was that Biden would do his utmost to show that he intends to distance the US from the path traced by his predecessor, President Donald Trump.

To signal that intention, Biden used the catchphrase "America is back! Diplomacy is back!" to bolster the claim that under Trump, the US had deviated from the American way of doing things and ditched diplomacy in favor of confrontation and violence.

The catchphrase may sound nice as a slogan. The mainstream media welcomed it as a relief from Trump's abrasive vocabulary. The Washington Post praised Biden's first foreign policy speech for its "new tone" and "new attitude". The New York Times saw it as a signal that the US was returning to its leadership role.

However, in a political discourse, tone and attitude are mere ornaments. What matters is the substance, which remains obscure.

Biden says "America is back", but does not specify which America.
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