Quincy Institute Offers Blueprint for Reorienting US Foreign Policy


CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, Quincy Institute, 202.800.4662/ [email protected]

WASHINGTON, DC — Making only marginal adjustments will prove wholly insufficient to the task of fixing US foreign policy, which two decades of endless war and a failed pandemic response have shown to be dangerously inadequate to protect the American people, a new playbook for the incoming Biden administration contends.

The transition guide, released today by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, lays out a plan for a fundamental reorientation of American foreign policy in five areas that will put the well-being of the American people ahead of America’s ambitions to dominate the globe. “A New Direction: A Foreign Policy Playbook on Military Restraint for the Biden Team” puts forward a US foreign policy agenda centered on the principles of military restraint and responsible statecraft. It spells out how the incoming Biden administration can apply these principles to US relations with China and East Asia, Afghanistan, the Greater Middle East, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. 

“Successive administrations have deployed the military in a costly, counterproductive, and indiscriminate manner, normalizing war and treating armed dominance as an end in itself,” Quincy Institute’s Executive Vice President Trita Parsi says. “In consequence, the foreign policies of the United States have become detached from any defensible conception of US interests and from a decent respect for the rights and dignity of humankind.”

President-elect Joe Biden appears to recognize the need for a serious reorientation. During the public presentation of his national security and foreign policy team, incoming national security advisor Jake Sullivan said that Biden has tasked the team with “reimagining our national security for the unprecedented combination of crises we face at home and abroad.” Sullivan said that American foreign policy has to be judged by a basic question: Does it “make life better, easier, and safer” for Americans at home?

With this playbook, the Quincy Institute, an activist think tank that launched one year ago, seeks to help advance this request from the president-elect. The memo lays out a policy path to end the United States’ 20 year long wars in the greater Middle East and to prevent the slide into an expensive new ‘cold war’ with China. 

Among the playbook’s recommendations are that the incoming team expand climate change and public health cooperation with China, reduce military tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and negotiate maritime agreements with China. It also calls on the Biden team to pursue a peace agreement with North Korea to end the 70 year old war and help advance phased denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. 

When it comes to the Middle East, the playbook includes proposals to withdraw all remaining troops, support the development of an inclusive security architecture, and normalize relations with Iran.