Elizabeth Boyle, Staff
After a year of quarantine, masks and working from home, people are looking for big changes in 2021. Government officials have been busy since the election in November 2020. One notable difference since the change in administrations, is the strengthening of the United States’ relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Former President Donald Trump pushed towards an isolationist approach when it came to international communications. A common theme President Trump mentioned, which can be particularly seen within his Republican National Convention speech in August 2020, where he voiced his disappointment in the size of NATO spending. President Trump believed that the United States’ partners in NATO were behind on their payments. President Trump and his administration wanted to distance the U.S. from NATO until its members were able to increase the amount of money put towards their national defense. With the Biden administration this could be changing.
President Joe Biden, inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021, quickly went to work appointing a new Secretary of Defense. On Jan. 22, Lloyd J. Austin was sworn in as the 28th Secretary of Defense. Prior to his cabinet position, Austin attended West Point and served in the Army for 41 years before retiring as a four-star General.
Austin’s first call as Secretary of Defense was to NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. Austin discussed wanting to keep the NATO alliance strong and the current missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Austin wants to continue a strong defense position in NATO as a method to deter potential and known threats. Austin also told Stoltenberg that he wanted to re-strengthen the U.S.’s relationship with Europe. Stoltenberg congratulated Biden after his inauguration and told Austin that he feels positive about President Biden’s policy goals mentioned during his campaign.
This sequence of events could be indicative of a change in U.S. foreign relations over the next four years. Whereas the Trump administration focused on isolationism and taking a stern approach with foreign relations, one can assume President Biden is planning for a return to normalcy in American foreign policy. The call to Secretary General Stoltenberg, change in US Secretary of Defense and the policy plans President Biden has mentioned are showing a focus on increasing international communications for some upcoming potential changes.