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How Will Biden Intervene?

Summary:
Broadly defined, intervention refers to actions that influence the domestic affairs of another sovereign state, and they can range from broadcasts, economic aid, and support for opposition parties to blockades, cyber attacks, drone strikes, and military invasion. Which ones will the US president-elect favor? CAMBRIDGE – American foreign policy tends to oscillate between inward and outward orientations. President George W. Bush was an interventionist; his successor, Barack Obama, less so. And Donald Trump was mostly non-interventionist. What should we expect from Joe Biden? How Might COVID-19 Change the World? PS OnPoint STR/AFP via Getty Images

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Broadly defined, intervention refers to actions that influence the domestic affairs of another sovereign state, and they can range from broadcasts, economic aid, and support for opposition parties to blockades, cyber attacks, drone strikes, and military invasion. Which ones will the US president-elect favor?

CAMBRIDGE – American foreign policy tends to oscillate between inward and outward orientations. President George W. Bush was an interventionist; his successor, Barack Obama, less so. And Donald Trump was mostly non-interventionist. What should we expect from Joe Biden?

In 1821, John Quincy Adams famously stated that the United States “does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” But America also has a long interventionist tradition. Even a self-proclaimed realist like Teddy Roosevelt argued that in extreme cases of abuse of human rights, intervention “may be justifiable and proper.” John F. Kennedy called for Americans to ask not only what they could do for their country, but for the world.

Since the Cold War’s end, the US has been involved in seven wars and military interventions, none directly related to great power competition. George W. Bush’s 2006 National Security Strategy proclaimed a goal of freedom embodied in a global community of democracies.

Moreover, liberal and humanitarian intervention is not a new or uniquely American temptation. Victorian Britain had debates about using force to end slavery, Belgium’s atrocities in the Congo, and Ottoman...

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