In a speech that would have been appropriate for the bipolar world in 1962, President Joe Biden called for an alliance of democracies to face off against tyrannical forces across the globe. This is a misreading of current geopolitics, which is not predominantly binary, but multipolar. The world we inhabit is qualitatively similar to the post-Napoleonic world of 1820, with one predominant but overstretched great power and several other powers jostling for space, influence, and interests.
Biden’s speech, given at the 2021 Munich Security Conference on Feb. 19, was touted as a restoration speech. It was as binary as one could have expected, and to his credit, Biden did not deviate from the message.
“We are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future and direction of our world,” he said. “We’re at an inflection point between those who argue that, given all the challenges we face — from the fourth industrial revolution to a global pandemic