By Jonathan Lemire and Aamer Madhani | Associated Press
WASHINGTON – On his first foreign trip of his tenure, President Joe Biden sought to rebuild the United States globally, shaking allies in Europe harder than ever before, pushing democracy as the sole base for the rising forces of authoritarianism.
Biden set the stakes for his eight-day trip as the West must demonstrate that it can compete economically with China when it emerges from a coronavirus pandemic in the world.
Before boarding Air Force One on Wednesday’s flight, Biden told reporters that this time it was to explain to Chinese and Russian leaders that the U.S. and Europe are “tough.”
Looking ahead to the summit concluding his trip with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden aims to reassure European capitals that the U.S. once again trusts them as a reliable partner to prevent Moscow’s aggression on its eastern fronts and on the battlefields of the Internet.
The journey will be more than just concrete actions or deals about message sharing. The most important priority for Biden is to convince the world that his Democratic administration is not just a temporary deviation from the American foreign policy trajectory, as many allies fear a more transactional approach under former President Donald Trump. .
“The trip will primarily develop the core direction of Joe Biden’s foreign policy,” said National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, “to bring together world democracies to address the biggest challenges of our time.”
Biden’s to-do list is ambitious.
During a face-to-face meeting in Geneva, Biden sought to put pressure on Putin to stop many provocations, including cybersecurity attacks on American businesses by hackers in Russia, the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and repeated and covert actions. The Kremlin to interfere in the U.S. election.
Biden also wants to urge allies to take action against COVID-19 and unite them around a strategy to investigate China, a growing economic and national security rival, and even the United States is concerned about Europe’s economic ties with Moscow. Biden also wants foreign allies, including Australia, to make more aggressive commitments to global efforts to stop global warming.
The weekly plus trip was a major event for Biden, who has traveled the world for decades as vice president and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is now on the international stage as Air Force One commander-in-chief. goes He faces world leaders who are still battling the virus, and Trump’s four-year foreign policy and foreign policy that has strained long-standing alliances as the former Republican president overtures powerful individuals.
“At a time of global uncertainty, at a time when the world is still battling a pandemic that will happen once in a century,” Biden wrote in the Washington Post, anticipating his diplomatic efforts, “this time America is ahead of us.” It demonstrates the commitment of allies and partners and democracy to meet the demands of this new age and to prevent threats. “
The president will first travel to the UK for the G7 summit, then to Brussels for a NATO summit and a meeting with EU leaders. This comes at a time when Europeans are lowering their expectations of U.S. leadership abroad.
Central and Eastern Europeans hope the U.S. will tie its security tighter. Germany wants to see U.S. troops there, so it doesn’t need to create its own contingent. France, meanwhile, has decided that the United States must continue to be as unreliable as before and that the European Union must continue to move forward with strategic autonomy.
“I think the concern that Trumpian tendencies in the U.S. may return full boredom in the interim or in the next presidential election is real,” said Alexander Verskhov, a former U.S. diplomat and former NATO deputy secretary general.
The sequence of the visit was deliberate: Biden consulted with allies in Western Europe for a week as a show of solidarity with Putin ahead of his summit.
The first stop on Wednesday night will be addressing U.S. troops stationed in Britain, and the next day he will sit down with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The two meet on the rocky cliffs of Cornwall overlooking the Atlantic Ocean the day before the G-7 summit.
The most tactical of the politicians, Biden was outraged by the “Zoom-to-zoom” dynamics of the pandemic and enjoyed the opportunity to meet again face-to-face, creating an opportunity to connect with leaders around the world. Although Biden himself is an honorary statesman, he began working for many world leaders he sees in Britain, including Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, after Biden stepped down as vice president. Another, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will step down later this year.
There are several potential tensions. On climate change, the U.S. is trying to rebuild its confidence after Trump pulled the country back from the fight against global warming. Biden may also feel pressure on the business, a matter he still doesn’t pay much attention to. And while the United States is well stocked with COVID-19 vaccines and is struggling to convince some citizens to use it, leaders whose vaccination campaigns have been slower have accused Biden of having more surpluses around the world. it is clear that they will be forced to fight.
Another major focus will be China. Biden and other G-7 leaders are announcing an infrastructure financing program for developing countries that will compete directly with Beijing’s Belt-et-Road Initiative. But no European power has taken China as harshly as Biden, who has described competition with technological security states as the defining competition for the 21st century.
The EU has avoided taking a firm stance, as the Biden administration wanted, such as Beijing’s crackdown on the democratic movement in Hong Kong or its treatment of Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in western Xinjiang. But there is evidence that Europe is ready for a more serious investigation than Beijing.
The European Union announced sanctions in March against four Chinese officials linked to human rights abuses in Xinjiang. In response, Beijing imposed sanctions on several members of the European Parliament and other Europeans critical of the Chinese Communist Party.
While in Brussels, Biden is scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a face-to-face meeting between the two leaders who have had many moments in their relationship over the years.
Biden waited for April to call Erdogan for the first time as president. In this call, he informed the Turkish leader that he officially recognized the systematic killing and deportation of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman forces in the early 20th century as “genocide” – using his White House term of savagery. its predecessors have avoided the concern of alienating Turkey for decades.
The finale of the trip will be Biden’s meeting with Putin.
Biden took a very different approach to Russia than Trump’s friendly support. Their only summit in Helsinki in July 2018 was marked by Trump’s refusal to side with U.S. intelligence agencies because of his refusal to interfere in Russia’s election two years ago.
The unrest at home could stand up to Biden as Russia seeks to use the January 6 Capitol Uprising and the debate over the right to vote to undermine the U.S.’s position as a global role model. The U.S. president, in turn, is expected to urge Russia to suppress global intervention.
“In general, these are not meetings on results, these are meetings that are‘ more familiar to you ’for the U.S. and Europe,” said Richard Hass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s about communicating to Putin, restoring old alliances, and demonstrating once again that the United States is back on track.”