Three weeks ago, a lot of the conservative British press was saying it was the total collapse of the relationship and the worst ever. I guess tomorrow they’ll say it’s a huge breakthrough. I don’t think either is true. [...] Aukus really shows what the UK has to contribute and it’s effective because it is in the high-end technology area that the UK has specialised in. There’s an alignment there and it has something big to contribute. That’s a very positive thing. [...] Talk of an Anglosphere or anything like that as an organising principle for the relationship or for US foreign policy is very ill-advised. I don’t think that’s helpful or accurate in terms of where things are headed. [...] There are very significant challenges [to a US-UK free trade deal] and I don’t think those are going to be wiped away.
Biden’s overarching message [in an address to the U.N. General Assembly] . . . was that strategic competition with China will not in any way diminish America’s commitment to working with other nations to tackle shared existential threats like climate change and pandemics. [The challenge for the U.S. president is to find a way of tackling shared threats in an era of great power rivalry and nationalism...] He will try to work with China but he also needs a back-up plan if that fails to materialise. Today’s speech was a first step in that direction.
[The people claiming that there is some sort of unified theory of Blob-dom are not thinking clearly. For one thing, even within Brookings there is a wide range of opinion on Afghanistan. Wright supported the withdrawal, for instance — which would seem to make him a traitor to the Blob, even though he is, by any definition, in the Blob himself.] My impression is that people who talk about the Blob have not read or inquired into what the people in the think tanks have actually said about the topic. They don’t know what they’re talking about. [But...] if they want to say that Biden is doing something that Richard Haass disagrees with, then that’s true, he is.
[Republicans will] try to avoid those tough questions [on the Afghanistan withdrawal and its aftermath] and tell themselves a story that Trump would’ve done it differently, it just would’ve been done better. The reality is that’s pretty unlikely. [... The restrainers] got what they wanted on this occasion, but the costs of the strategy are undeniable — it was extremely difficult and came at a very high price. The restrainers have been saying for a while that if you pull back, the sky won’t fall in. Now I think there’s a greater awareness that it’s a very difficult strategy to pursue.