Editor’s Note: David A. Andelman, a contributor to CNN, twice winner of the Deadline Club Award, is a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, author of “A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen” and blogs at SubStack’s Andelman Unleashed. He formerly was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.
Former Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush wound up ping-ponging from crisis to crisis with no clear sense of what shape the horizon might take, frequently updating their worldviews to match the moment. Bush was against nation-building until he was for it in Afghanistan and Iraq; Obama was against foreign intervention until he was for it in Libya; Trump was for sweet-talking global adversaries until he was against it.
Biden, in contrast, has been operating on the basis of a real weltanschauung (or worldview). Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told me and other students in his class at Harvard that few leaders, especially presidents of the United States, operated on the world stage with a clear-eyed sense of where they want the world to be at the end of their four or eight years and then worked to get there.
And indeed, few have defined and embraced democracy as a doctrine, viewed crises and partners through such a prism and worked so effectively to further these essential values more than Biden, who spent decades on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and eight years as vice president before becoming the leader of the Free World.