Joe Biden embarks on the first trip abroad of his mandate this Wednesday. The president is eager to reassert the United States on the world stage, reassuring European allies deeply startled by his predecessor and promoting democracy as the only bulwark against rising authoritarian forces.
Biden has raised the stakes on his journey of eight days broadly speaking, he believes that the West must publicly demonstrate that it can compete economically with China as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
Ahead of the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will end the trip, Biden will try to assure European capitals that the United States can once again be counted on as a reliable partner to thwart Moscow’s aggression both on its eastern front and on the other. the battlefields of the internet.
The presidential couple salute before leaving. Photo: EFE
The journey will focus more in messages than in actions or concrete agreements.
And Biden’s first priority toward his first stop in the UK is convincing the world that his Democratic rule is not just a fleeting deviation in the trajectory of an American foreign policy that many allies fear has irrevocably drifted into a more perspective. transactional under former President Donald Trump.
“The journey, in essence, will enhance the fundamental momentum of Joe Biden’s foreign policy, “said national security adviser Jake Sullivan,” to unite the world’s democracies to meet the great challenges of our time. “
Biden’s to-do list it is ambitious.
Joe Biden leaves the White House. Photo: EFE
At the face-to-face meeting in Geneva, Biden wants to privately pressure Putin to end a series of provocationssuch as cybersecurity attacks on US companies by hackers operating from Russia, the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and repeated overt and covert efforts by the Kremlin to interfere in the US elections.
Biden also wants to rally allies around his response to COVID-19 and urge them to join in a strategy to brake to the new economic and national security competitor that is China, even as the United States expresses concern about Europe’s economic ties with Moscow.
Biden also wants to encourage more distant allies, such as Australia, to become more actively engaged in the global initiative to curb global warming.
An expert traveler
The week-long trip is a great moment for Biden, who toured the world during decades as vice president and as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who will now come down from Air Force One on international soil as commander-in-chief.
He will stand in front of world leaders still grappling with the virus and uneasy after four years of Trump’s foreign policy that focused on the country itself and strained long-standing alliances when the former Republican president reached out to authoritarian leaders.
“At this time of global uncertaintyAs the world still grapples with a pandemic that has only occurred once in a century, “wrote Biden in a Washington Post op-ed in advance of his diplomatic efforts,” this trip is about making the America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners, and to demonstrate the capacity of democracies both to face challenges and to deter the threats of this new era. “
The President travels first to Britain to attend the Group of Seven Leaders’ Summit and then to Brussels for a NATO summit and a meeting with the leaders of the European Union. It comes at a time when Europeans have lower expectations of what they can expect of the United States’ leadership on the international stage.
The president travels first to Britain to attend the summit of the leaders of the Group of Seven. Photo: EFE
Central and Eastern Europeans eagerly await the United States to become more committed to their security. Germany wants the presence of US troops to be maintained there so as not to have to reinforce theirs. France, for its part, has taken the position that the United States can no longer be trusted as before and that the European Union must seek greater strategic autonomy in the future.
“I think there is a real concern that Trumpian tendencies in the United States will return to full blast in the midterm elections or in the next presidential elections,” said Alexander Vershbow, a former US diplomat who was NATO’s deputy secretary general.
The sequence of the journey it’s deliberate: Biden will consult with Western European allies for much of the week as a show of unity before his summit with Putin.
His first stopover late on Wednesday will be a speech to the troops Americans stationed in Britain, and the next day he will sit down with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The two will meet the day before the G-7 summit to be held on the rugged Cornish cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Biden, the most tangible of politicians, has been frustrated by the dynamics of diplomacy via zoom and enjoy the ability to once again have face-to-face meetings that allow you to feel and connect with world leaders.
Although Biden himself is a seasoned statesman, many of the world leaders he will see in England, including Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, took office after Biden left the vice presidency. Another, Germany’s Angela Merkel, will step down at the end of the year.
Areas of tension
There are several possible stress areas. On climate change, the United States aims to regain credibility after Trump withdrew the country from the fight against global warming. Biden may also feel pressured on trade, which he hasn’t paid much attention to yet.
And since the United States is well supplied with vaccines against COVID-19 but has difficulties To convince some of their citizens to accept them, leaders whose vaccination campaigns are slower will surely pressure Biden to share more surpluses around the world.
Another focus of attention will be China. Biden and the other G-7 leaders will announce a program of infrastructure financing for developing countries that intends to compete directly with the Belt and Road Initiative the Beijing Silk Road.
But not all European powers have China A vision as hard as Biden’s which views rivalry with the techno-security state as the defining competition of the 21st century.
The European Union has avoided taking as strong a stance as the Biden government would like to take on Beijing’s crackdown on the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement or the treatment of Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang province. .
But there are signs that Europe is willing to take a closer look at Beijing.
In March, the EU announced sanctions against four Chinese officials implicated in human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Beijing, in turn, responded by imposing sanctions on various members of the European Parliament and other Europeans critical of the Chinese Communist Party.
Biden is also scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his stay in Brussels, a face-to-face meeting between two leaders who have had many tense moments in their relationship over the years.
Biden waited until april to call Erdogan for the first time as president. In that call, he informed the Turkish leader that he would formally acknowledge that the killings and systematic deportations of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by the forces of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century were “genocide,” using a term for those atrocities that his predecessors in the White House had avoided for decades for fear of alienating Turkey.
The finishing touch The trip will be Biden’s meeting with Putin.
Biden has taken an approach to Russia very different of Trump’s friendly rapprochement. His only summit, held in July 2018 in Helsinki, was characterized by Trump’s refusal to support US intelligence agencies in the face of Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the elections two years earlier.
Biden could be complicated by turmoil in his country, as Russia seeks to capitalize on Jan.6 insurrection on Capitol Hill and the debate on the right to vote to weaken the position of the United States as a global model. The US president, in turn, is expected to pressure Russia to stop its global meddling.
“In general, these are not meetings that seek results, but meetings for the United States and Europe to get to know each other again,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “It is about sending a message to Putin, rekindling old alliances and showing again that the United States is back on the right track.”
Translation: Elisa Carnelli