In his recent State of the Union Address, President Biden touted his legislative victories, outlined his agenda for the newly divided Congress and painted an optimistic picture of the United States as he moves into the second half of his term. He spoke to a nation still dissatisfied with his job performance, unhappy with the country’s trajectory and unsure about whether or not to give him a second term. President Biden seems to have successfully addressed these concerns, as 72 percent of viewers reacted positively to the speech. However, amidst accusations of Chinese surveillance, Russian escalation in Ukraine and the continued threat of a nuclear Iran, the speech sparingly mentioned national security and failed to answer the increasingly critical question of what America’s role will be in the 21st century. 

As of this month, over 8 million refugees have been recorded fleeing the most violent conflict in Europe since World War II. Estimates place the death toll for the Russo-Ukrainian War at close to 300,000 soldiers from both sides in addition to 30,000 civilians, as Putin just suspended Russia’s participation in the START nuclear pact. China, already surpassing the United States by certain measures, refused to condemn Putin’s conquest and has significantly profited from importing Russian energy. As China eyes Taiwan to the east, it continues to engage in human rights violations against its citizens, unfair trade practices in the global market and widespread espionage against the United States. Meanwhile, Iran continues to develop its nuclear program, provides weapons to Russia, systematically oppresses minority groups, eliminates dissidents and just met with Chinese leaders to bolster cooperation between the two countries. While Washington’s main adversaries face radically different geopolitical situations, it is clear that a new axis is forming against the United States. Its members share the same overarching goal: the decline of American global influence and an end to the post-Cold War, U.S.-led liberal world order, which threatens the peace and stability of the free world.  

The Biden administration’s first 21 months in office were the subject of heavy criticism due to the absence of a National Security Strategy, or NSS, a document which explains how the president’s team plans to deal with the nation’s most pressing geopolitical challenges. While eventually published in October of last year, it focused on a wide array of issues which have historically never found their way in a NSS, including inflation, biodefense and climate change. 

The major problem with the Biden administration’s strategic outlook is that it lacks consistency. The NSS explains that the United States wants to avoid a situation “in which competition escalates into a world of rigid blocs.” In other words, it rejects the idea of a new Cold War. President Biden echoed this sentiment a month after its publication during a summit with Chinese Community Party leader Xi Jinping when he said that there “need not be a new Cold War” with Beijing in the decades to come. But the NSS also states that there “is a critical difference between our vision, which aims to preserve the autonomy and rights of less powerful states, and that of our rivals, which does not.” 

This “critical difference” certainly seems to be leading to a new Cold War in all but name with President Biden describing the ideological rivalry at the February 2021 Munich Security Conference as “a fundamental debate … between those who argue that … autocracy is the best way forward and those who understand that democracy is essential to meeting these challenges.” Rather than leaving Congress to debate issues like TikTok’s data collection, the Chinese balloon that flew over key U.S. nuclear weapons sites and U.S. military assistance to Ukraine, President Biden should clearly communicate to the American people the extent to which China, Russia and Iran jeopardize U.S. national security and threaten the “free and open international system.” In other words, Biden must deliver a version of his recent Poland speech at home and explain the implications of his global vision for American households.

Defending democracy and expanding liberal institutions play a large part in American foreign policy. President Biden must demonstrate how the fight for democracy is a concrete goal, especially for Americans convinced that his policies have led to unsustainable inflation and domestic division. By directly conveying why continued support to Ukraine, sanctions on Russia, more stringent measures on China and a watchful eye toward Iran serve the interest of the American people, the president can articulate a global grand strategy that promotes a lasting peace and protects human rights not just through military might, but through the advantages of rules-based, international cooperation. Yalies can contribute to this effort by recommitting the United States to democratic values at home and working to reverse the present trend of Americans losing trust in their country’s democratic processes. 

Memorials to the generations of Yalies who fought and died for these ideals surround us on campus. From the American Revolution, the Civil War, both World Wars and the Cold War, Yalies have consistently answered the call to defend freedom and democracy. We cannot fail to do so once again. We must preserve America’s democratic experiment so that, as the Hewitt Quadrangle reminds us every day, “freedom might not perish from the Earth.”


MICHAEL NDUBISI is a first-year in Saybrook College. His fortnightly column “A More Perfect Union” examines the American experiment, its flaws and Yalies’ role in it. Contact him at

AXEL DE VERNOU is a sophomore in Saybrook College on the executive board of the Alexander Hamilton Society. Contact him at

Michael Ndubisi is co-editor of the Yale Daily News’ Opinion desk and one of the News’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion co-chairs. Michael was previously an opinion columnist for the News, contributor and managing editor of ‘Time, Change and the Yale Daily News: A History’ and an associate beat reporter covering student accessibility. Originally from Long Beach, California, he is a sophomore in Saybrook College majoring in Political Science.