Africa Neglect Could Define Joe Biden’s Foreign Policy Legacy

Joe Biden's $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

Africa Neglect Could Define Joe Biden’s Foreign Policy Legacy

The true challenge to Biden’s foreign policy plan may come from a continent that his State Department largely ignores.


Since the end of the Cold War, the crisis no candidate saw coming end up defining his presidency’s foreign policy legacy. For Bush, it was the liberation of Kuwait. Bill Clinton hammered away Bush’s popularity with the tagline, “It’s the economy, stupid!” and won the White House, only to find himself embroiled in the former Yugoslavia. George W. Bush promised a domestic focus but, after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, launched a military assault on the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and, more controversially, on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as well. Barack Obama promised in response to “end stupid wars” but, by the end of his presidency, the United States was not only still committed in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also involved in Syria and Libya. Trump was the first U.S. president since Jimmy Carter not to become involved in a sustained military campaign, but the coronavirus crisis overshadows whatever other national security legacy he might have.

Biden should understand the lesson. Both he and Blinken may agree with or wish to appease the progressive base on its foreign policy agenda, but the United States cannot afford to be myopic, let alone blind. A perfect storm is gathering in Africa and both Biden and Blinken’s inattention may guarantee a crisis which historians will forever associate with their neglect. 


Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). You can follow him on Twitter: @mrubin1971.