Many people in the nation were looking forward to the inauguration of a new president since the last such occasion in 2017. I have been looking forward to a Joe Biden presidency since giving money for his first run for the Oval Office in 1987. Finally, after a marvelous ceremony at the United States Capitol on Wednesday, with perfect Washington weather, we can all say Welcome to the White House President Joe Biden! With a truly historic cheer, we also welcome Vice-President Kamala Harris to the seat of power in this new administration.
Now the nation needs to get to work on a bevy of issues that not only impact us domestically but also have an international import that requires all-out diligence. While there were multiple occasions during Biden’s inaugural address to feel the grandeur of the moment and gravity of history I was also much lifted by the calls to our attention of duty beyond our shores.
Over the weeks of the transition, I have been heartened by the selection of wise, pragmatic, experienced, and grounded people to fill out the cabinet and other high profile positions. None more so than the ones to be in charge of international relations and national security. International understanding is sorely needed at this time in the White House so Antony Blinken as the secretary of state, Jake Sullivan as national security advisor, and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence bring the skillset required for this time. Those who share my internationalist views are aware these selections and the views they hold are in direct opposition to the failed policies of the past four years.
The only top nominee in this area I have a concern about is that of Lloyd Austin at the defense department, as it is imperative a civilian hold the reins of power. The last couple of weeks has demonstrated the fragility of our democracy, and with some threats reported from members of the military (retired or otherwise), it is vital that we have civilian control over this department. Austin is surely a fine man, and a proven leader. But there was a logical reason why the National Security Act of 1947 demands that the head of the Defense Department must be a civilian. It simply reflects the balance of powers outlined in the Constitution.
The past four years have left many around the globe questioning the resolve of the US and what role we can still play on the world stage. But let us not forget some truths.
The United States is the undisputed indispensable nation. Alliances do matter. Allies are friends where policy coordination and collaboration are shared responsibilities. As such, I felt the weight of the words President Biden sent to the world-wide audience.
So here’s my message to those beyond our borders. America has been tested and we’ve come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. And we’ll lead, not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. We’ll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress and security.
From re-engaging with other countries to foster united solutions to climate change, seeking a healthy dialogue with Iran, and making it clear that territorial disputes in the South China Sea will be met with resolve are only the top tier items awaiting action. Throughout the coming years, it will be essential that we strengthen international institutions. Undoing the damage will take a very long time–more time than just during the Biden years. But we must, and can again demonstrate a resolve to be the leader the world needs. To think our national power and diplomatic might are not staples the world requires is to allow the rot of the past four years to linger.
That must not be allowed.
Our nation has been mocked, scorned, and laughed at for four years. But when it was announced that Joe Biden had won the election in November the sighs of relief and sincere messages of international hope made it perfectly clear what role the world wished our nation to again provide. Biden will make sure that the image of the United States as an unreliable partner is as removed as the former president is from power. At a time when illiberal democracy threatens nations globally makes it even more crucial we hold to the foundations of what makes America special…and then work again to promote it.
The past four years on the international stage can be summed up best when the U.N. general assembly burst into raucous laughter while Donald Trump was speaking. We can reverse the laugh lines. For instance, I am trusting that the Biden administration will demand that to gain preferential trading agreements means certain anti-corruption measures are first undertaken. This is a most vital point to press as justified anger over corruption in places around the world account for protests and unease which leads to instability in governments.
Much hope is in the air but much work needs to be achieved before anyone, anywhere can take a deep breath. We can meet the challenges with leadership and intellect. With our new leaders inaugurated today, I am confident we have secured both qualities in this White House.
And so it goes.