THE BIDEN administration has an opportunity to loosen the paradigmatic grip of great-power competition on U.S. foreign policy. And the United States, in turn, has an opportunity to overcome the inertia that has long tethered its pursuit of strategic clarity to the maneuvers of external competitors. In according primacy to its renewal, at home and abroad, it would focus more on steps that are fully within its control to take than on decisions—by China and Russia—that are only partially within its control to shape. It would render itself less vulnerable to distractions and position itself to enhance its long-term strategic competitiveness regardless of what actions Beijing and Moscow take. And it would signal confidence in its regenerative capacity, recalling Samuel Huntington’s judgment that the ultimate mark of a great power is its ability to replenish the foundations of its strength. America’s foremost competitor is ultimately not China, Russia, or a Sino-Russian entente, but itself.
Ali Wyne is a senior analyst with Eurasia Group’s Global Macro practice. He is the author of the forthcoming book America’s Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition (Polity, 2022).