Constructing a Truly “America First” Foreign Policy

The way the United States left Afghanistan shows that the conflict was a massive failure. The Biden administration has basically cut their losses and abandoned Afghanistan and the people there that helped America. While abandoning Afghan allies is terrible, for instance Afghan allies were killed and beheaded, this may signal a change in American foreign policy.

For several decades American foreign policy focused on spreading and protecting democracy and human rights. This meant that America would intervene in a country under the pretense of protecting people or helping people to further the spread of democratic ideals in their country. For instance, this happened during and after the Cold War, most notably when the United States intervened in Vietnam and Kosovo. However, a shift in foreign policy thinking can be seen in America that started with President Trump’s administration. This shift is away from a foreign policy that focuses on intervening in other countries to spread democracy and protect human rights. However, more of a shift in foreign policy is needed.

The Claim of an America First Foreign Policy

While President Trump espoused an America first foreign policy, Trump’s policy wasn’t actually America first. For instance, under Trump the United States removed itself from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) when staying in the TPP would have likely increased American influence in Asia. This makes the “America first” foreign policy of Trump not truly a foreign policy that placed America before other countries. What would have made it a truly America first foreign policy is if it focused on increasing America’s power relative to other countries.

It seemed like Biden was following in Trump’s footsteps in having a somewhat America first foreign policy by focusing more on domestic policy. Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan seemed to be evidence of this. However, the Biden administration’s involvement in Ukraine also seems to refute the odea that Biden is placing America first. Additionally, Biden’s foreign policy has not seemed to focus on increasing American power. In other words, Biden does not have an America first foreign policy either.

The Real America First Foreign Policy

To truly have an America first foreign policy, policy makers must focus more on the balance of power and create policies that will increase American influence and power across the globe. Increasing power and influence across the globe does not mean intervening in other countries for the simple reason of spreading and protecting democracy and human rights. Instead, it means increasing economic influence by joining trade agreements such as the TPP, creating a more technologically advanced military, and working on cyber capabilities. In contrast to the United States, China is already doing all of these things.

In addition to China creating a more technologically advanced military and transforming their cyber capabilities, China has also developed a plan to increase their economic and political influence. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a project that will increase both Chinese economic and political influence. The Belt and Road Initiative is a large collection of development and investment initiatives that will stretch from East Asia to Europe, including building a network of railways, energy pipelines, and streamlined border crossings. If America is to remain a powerful nation, it needs to focus on increasing influence in other regions of the world, developing technology, and developing cyber capabilities. Without doing these things, America will fall behind other nations.


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