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How Biden Can Restore Multilateralism Unilaterally

Summary:
After four years of the Trump administration undermining global governance arrangements, President-elect Joe Biden will certainly have his work cut out for him. Nonetheless, there are several actions the new administration can take immediately to reaffirm America's commitment to multilateral institutions and the rule of law. NEW YORK – There is so much to celebrate with the new year. The arrival of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines means that there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel (though the next few months will be horrific). Equally important, America’s mendacious, incompetent, mean-spirited president will be replaced by his polar opposite: a man of decency, honesty, and professionalism. How

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After four years of the Trump administration undermining global governance arrangements, President-elect Joe Biden will certainly have his work cut out for him. Nonetheless, there are several actions the new administration can take immediately to reaffirm America's commitment to multilateral institutions and the rule of law.

NEW YORK – There is so much to celebrate with the new year. The arrival of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines means that there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel (though the next few months will be horrific). Equally important, America’s mendacious, incompetent, mean-spirited president will be replaced by his polar opposite: a man of decency, honesty, and professionalism.

But we should harbor no illusions about what President-elect Joe Biden will face in office. There will be deep scars left from the Trump presidency, and from a pandemic that the outgoing administration did so little to fight. The economic trauma will not heal overnight, and without comprehensive assistance at this critical time of need – including support for cash-strapped state and local governments – the pain will be prolonged.

America’s long-term allies, of course, will welcome the return of a world where the United States stands up for democracy and human rights, and cooperates internationally to address global problems like pandemics and climate change. But, again, it would be foolish to pretend that the world has not changed fundamentally. The US, after all, has shown itself to be an untrustworthy ally.

True, the US Constitution and those of its 50 states survived and protected American democracy from the worst of Trump’s malign impulses. But the fact that 74 million Americans voted for another four years of his grotesque misrule leaves a chill. What might the next election bring? Why should others trust a country that might repudiate everything it stands for just four years from now?

Joseph E. Stiglitz
The official account of Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate economist based at Columbia University.

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