May 19, 2023

LibertyLimited Government

How American Identity Shapes Foreign Policy

By: Julia Canzano

The transition from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration understandably brought changes to foreign policy- no longer does the United States follow Trump’s “America First” approach to international relations, and with new foreign policy crises the Biden Administration has acted much differently in coming up with solutions than the Trump Administration would have. Although the Biden Administration follows a very liberal approach to domestic policy, when it comes to foreign policy the Biden Administration is taking a constructivist approach. This approach, however, has the wrong goals and priorities in mind and is causing the United States to suffer disastrous consequences. 

The two major theories of international relations over the last century are realism and liberalism. Realism takes a Machiavellian approach and requires that states act in ways that support their self-interests. The primary concerns are power and security and states will always act in a way to maximize both. Liberalism, on the other hand, focuses more on international cooperation and institutions. Through the spread of democracy and strengthening international trade, states can mutually benefit instead of solely looking out for self-preservation. Under constructivism, states act in a way that supports a particular identity or interest, which can change over time. No one theory is correct in approaching international relations and an administration’s domestic priorities can drive its approach towards foreign policy. 

American identity during the Cold War and into the 21st century focused on areas like democracy, free markets, free speech, and being a melting pot of immigrants.  America’s national identity is now in a confusing place- one half of the country focuses on the previously mentioned areas while the other half is focused on equity instead of equality, open borders instead of a controlled flow of migration, and censoring speech instead of encouraging free speech. 

Within the last six years, American foreign policy approaches have shifted from a realist, “America First” approach under the Trump Administration to a “woke” approach under the Biden Administration. Under President Trump, the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords, withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which limited Iran’s nuclear capabilities, constructed portions of a wall on the southern border, and moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

Under President Biden, however, the United States has switched to a constructivist approach to foreign policy. This has meant hiring a drag queen to be the face of naval recruitment to attract the most diverse set of recruits, while Russia has encouraged potential recruits to step up and be a real man. From August 2021 to January 2023 the U.S. Department of Defense also required service members to receive a COVID vaccine, which caused more than 8,400 troops to resign. It’s not acceptable to celebrate masculinity in the United States anymore- no, instead the focus has become having a diverse and compliant military instead of the strongest or the toughest. 

Instead of securing the southern border, the Biden Administration has presided over a 2-year increase in border crossing encounters, from a low of 16,182 in April 2020 to a high of 206,239 in November 2022. Both single adults and the number of migrants from countries other than Mexico have increased as well, showing that instead of defending the border and looking out for America’s interests, as a realist would, the Biden Administration would rather do the “nice thing” and encourage people to come here in the name of equity. 

The war in Ukraine has also taken up much of the Biden Administration’s foreign policy focus and it has been driven by a constructivist approach. As of January 2023, the United States has sent $76.8 billion to Ukraine, which is two times more than what European Union Institutions are sending and 14 times more than what is being sent to Israel, the next largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. So much money is being put towards a war that, at best, indirectly affects the United States. This is money that could be better spent on the United States’ domestic problems. But in the name of defending the oppressed, much like the argument presented in accepting illegal immigrants over the southern border, the Biden Administration is spending billions of dollars on a war it doesn’t need to be fighting. 

With less than two years left in President Biden’s term, continuing the current constructivist approach to international issues will continue to weaken American status in the global balance of power and cause more problems than successes. It’s not wrong to take a constructivist approach to foreign policy, but the current one that emphasizes appealing to the LGBTQ+ community or doing the “woke” thing over acting in a way that protects and defends the United States is the wrong approach to be taking.