The Biden Doctrine: Muddling Through?

Net feb

As observers in Washington look back at the Biden administration’s first year and prepare for its forthcoming national security and defense strategies, the Net Assessment crew debates the virtues of muddling through. Does the Biden team have a grand plan? Does it need one? And are errors of omission worse than those of commission?

Chris, Melanie, and Zack debate recent articles on muddling through by Josh Rovner, Richard Fontaine, and Anne-Marie Slaughter. Chris gives an attaboy to Tom Brady, since he hasn’t won enough already. Melanie issues both a grievance and an attaboy to Newt Gingrich. And Zack hails the wonders of easily available satellite imagery.




Joshua Rovner, “How Long can Biden Muddle Through on China?” War on the Rocks, Jan. 26, 2022,

Richard Fontaine, “The Case Against Foreign Policy Solutionism,” Foreign Affairs, Feb. 8, 2021,

Richard Fontaine, “Washington’s Missing China Strategy,” Foreign Affairs, Jan. 14, 2022,

Anne-Marie Slaughter, “It’s Time to Get Honest About the Biden Doctrine,” New York Times, Nov. 12, 2021,

Amy B. Zegart, Spies, Lies, and Algorithms (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2022),

Stacie L. Pettyjohn, “Spiking the Problem: Developing a Resilient Posture in the Indo-Pacific with Passive Defenses,” War on the Rocks, Jan. 10, 2022.

Dustin Walker, “The Pentagon is in Desperate Need of an Intervention from the Top,” War on the Rocks, Jan. 27, 2022.

Joe DiPaolo, ” Newt Gingrich Says January 6 Committee Members ‘Face a Real Risk of Jail’ if Republicans Win the House,” Mediaite, Jan. 23, 2022.

Liz Harrington, Tweet, Jan. 30, 2022.

Newt Gingrich, Tweet, Jan. 26, 2022.

The Hill, Tweet, Jan. 26, 2022.

Stephen Breyer, “Why Regulation Rarely Achieves the Goals It Is Designed to Serve,” PBS Commanding Heights (no date).

Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter, “Tom Brady retiring after 22 seasons, seven Super Bowl wins with New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, sources say,” ESPN, Jan. 29, 2022,

Dustin Volz, “Vast Troves of Classified Info Undermine National Security, Spy Chief Says,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 27, 2022,

Oona Hathaway, “Keeping the Wrong Secrets: How Washington Misses the Real Security Threat,” Foreign Affairs (January-February 2022),

Patrick G. Eddington and Christopher A. Preble, “Bad Idea: Overclassification,” Defense360, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Dec. 6, 2019,

Mathew Burrows and Evan Cooper, “Engagement Reframed #1: Vaccinate the world,” New American Engagement Initiative, Feb. 1, 2022,

Image: U.S. Navy (Photo by Mass Communication Spc. 3rd Class Javier Reyes)