Biden Team’s Embrace of Europe Falls Short on Content
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s inaugural trip to Europe last week is being hailed as a soothing restoration of the trans-Atlantic alliance. As conventional wisdom has it, after four years of abuse and neglect under President Donald Trump, the new administration must make resuming warm relations with allies its highest aim in Europe.
And therein lies the problem. Strengthening alliances with Europe is necessary and right—indeed, given the scale of the challenge posed by China, a deepening of U.S.-European ties is urgently needed. But the Biden administration risks mistaking the optics of improved relations for strategic success. In fact, what the United States needs in Europe is not good vibes but specific outcomes in allies’ policies in order to strengthen the strategic position of the West as a whole for the unfolding era of intensified competition with China. Acting as if trans-Atlantic bonhomie were the goal rather than concrete results could jeopardize progress on that larger aim for three reasons.