President Joe Biden talks on the phone with service members attending Super Bowl LV watch parties in Kabul and aboard the USS Nimitz Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, at the Lake House in Wilmington, Delaware. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
What ‘America is back’ really means

‘America is back.’ Speaking to the 57th annual Munich Security Conference, Joe Biden made that point for the umpteenth time in his short presidency. His crisp declarative sentence requires decoding, of course. To his audience of European elites, he was offering this assurance: ‘Trump is gone and won’t be returning anytime soon: trust me.’

In expanding on this basic thesis, Biden’s presentation covered a totally predictable range of topics and reached totally predictable conclusions. While repeatedly insisting that history had reached ‘an inflection point’, he simultaneously reiterated the claim made by every US president since Harry Truman (Trump excepted) that ‘the partnership between Europe and the United States’ will determine the fate of humankind. As a consequence, he asserted, that partnership ‘must remain the cornerstone of all that we hope to accomplish in the 21st century, just as [it] did in the 20th century’. 

According to Biden, in other words, the US-led Eurocentric geopolitical order dating from the immediate aftermath of World War Two remains fully intact. So too, therefore, do all of the arrangements discussed, negotiated and affirmed by American, Canadian and European elites over the course of the previous 56 Munich Security Conferences. The barely-disguised purpose of these annual pilgrimages to southern Bavaria has always been to sanctify the existence of a so-called North Atlantic community, aka the West. As a participant in past Munich conferences, Biden himself needs no persuading. If ‘America is back’ has a corollary, it’s captured in the phrase ‘Nato now and forever.’ 

Of course, Biden did not actually attend this year’s Munich conference. Given the ravages that the coronavirus has inflicted on various Nato member states, the event’s conveners prudently decided to hold it virtually. Yet the symbolism was difficult to overlook: with Americans and Europeans beset by the deadliest threat they had faced since World War Two, leaders of the alliance said to guarantee their mutual security found it impossible even to gather in the same room. The ‘cornerstone’ was irrelevant to the proximate danger. 

Read the full article in The American Spectator.

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