Former US diplomat Brett Bruen was responsible for America's global brand at the White House, where he served as Director of Global Engagement under President Barack Obama.
Bruen is the president of crisis communications agency the Global Situation Room and teaches crisis communications at Georgetown University in Washington DC.
He told Sunday Morning that Donald Trump has destroyed decades of diplomatic work in his four-year tenure, and those hoping for a quick fix under Joe Biden are in for a rude awakening.
"The expectations of many here in the US, and in New Zealand and across the Pacific are too high, quite frankly. Joe Biden is not going to be able to restore us to where we were under Barack Obama.
"Barack Obama was not able to restore us to where we were before 9/11, before Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. America has been on a decline over the last couple of decades - I don't say it with any satisfaction, and most of it has been of our own making.
"I date it back to the post-Cold War decisions, particularly by President Clinton at the time, that we weren't going to engage in the atrocities taking place in Kosovo, below 10,000 feet. Which was a far cry to the Four Freedoms espoused by President Roosevelt in the midst of WWII, where he said we have this moral obligation to go out and to defend these fundamental rights, no matter where in the world they were under threat."
Bruen says he was at the US National Security Council in August 2014 when a minority community of 50,000 Yazidi Kurds were trapped on a mountain, surrounded by threatening ISIS forces.
"His thesis was 'we'll help those who can escape'. Which for me was a real betrayal of that Rooseveltian notion of the US playing a role that was admired around the world.
"It doesn't get regained when it comes down to important notions that I know would be foremost in the minds of those in New Zealand, on issues like North Korea.
"I mean we have in the case of Iran already torn up an agreement where they made substantial compromises - so why the heck is Kim Jong-Un likely to make substantial compromises when the likelihood is that, whether it's President Trump or another populist leader comes into office they say: 'I'm not going to recognise the agreements that were made by Joe Biden, or by whichever president.'
"It's unfortunate, it is certainly for those of us who serve this country a time of great regret."
But is robust engagement too costly for America?
Bruen refers to time he spent embedded in Tikrit, Iraq, in 2009, as a diplomacy officer with the Provincial Reconstruction Team, and says he understands first hand the challenges of 'robust engagement'. But he says the deciding factor in whether international interventions are worthwhile for the US is dependent on whether commitment to the cause is maintained long enough to stabilise the situation.
"Those engagements have not always been followed ... to not just win the war, but to win the peace. I think we've tried too often in recent decades to do this on the cheap.
"To say we have such an overwhelming military advantage that we will be able to take out the Taliban, take out Saddam Hussein, and then people will embrace freedom and they'll come to our side... that just hasn't played out. I saw first hand in Salahuddin province, in Iraq, how you have to get out there with the right resources, with the right strategies, and not necessarily with the military in the lead.
"I remember having these debates with the soldiers who would rush out to a village and build these brand new schools, and I said you're providing this spectacular building, but what we really need to do is ensure that we're providing books and education materials and training, and all sorts of other supports. Because you can teach extremism in a very nice school, and you can teach some of these fundamental rights and freedoms sitting under a tree.
"Too often, at least in the US context... it's a military first, development and diplomacy distance second and third options. But I do insist that if we came in with the right amount of resources, with the right strategies, that we would stand a better chance."