Comment for The Foreign Policy

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Is Biden’s Foreign Policy Grade A Material?

More than 30 experts grade the U.S. president’s first year of foreign policy.

PUBLISHED

By Tatiana Stanovaya, nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center and founder of political analysis firm R.Politik

If Biden’s goal was to appease Russia while ousting its problems from the international agenda to create more room for the U.S.-China relationship, his grade would be poor: C-. After a year of Biden’s presidency, the Russia challenge has only intensified. The current situation appears to be tense and insoluble: The West can’t deliver written security guarantees while Russia appears to be stubbornly obsessed with obtaining them. But is that Biden’s fault?

There is reason to suggest that without Biden’s efforts to begin a substantial dialogue with Russia, the current crisis would have emerged earlier and could have been more impetuous and devastating. For the first time in 30 years, Washington proposed the kind of dialogue Moscow could not have even hoped for years ago. Putin values this respectful and serious way of negotiating, without negligence and arrogance, even if it comes with the threat of sanctions. This is something Putin would be reluctant to lose; thus, it might work.

The main problem of Biden’s position is the kind of compromises he may have to make to avert military escalation, especially as Moscow amasses troops against Kyiv, Ukraine. War would threaten Biden’s personal standing domestically and internationally. That is why some in Moscow have made the bet that Biden may only serve one term in office—and is therefore willing to sacrifice his domestic standing in favor of European geopolitical stability. Considering all this, it’s hard to imagine how Biden could do any better.

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