US President Joe Biden will embark on his first overseas trip on Wednesday, where he will meet with European partners and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
“At this time of global uncertainty, as the world still grapples with a pandemic only in a century,” Biden wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in a preview of his diplomatic efforts, “this trip is about making the pledge a reality. renewed commitment to the United States with our allies and partners, and demonstrating the ability of democracies to meet the challenges and deter the threats of this new era. ”
The president travels first to Britain for a summit of the leaders of the Group of Seven and then to Brussels for a NATO summit and a meeting with the heads of the European Union. It comes at a time when Europeans have lowered expectations of what they can expect from American leadership on the foreign stage.
Central and Eastern Europeans desperately hope to tie the United States closer to their security. Germany is looking to keep the US troop presence there, so it doesn’t need to increase its own. France, meanwhile, has adopted the tactic that the US cannot be trusted as before and that the European Union must pursue greater strategic autonomy in the future.
“I think the concern is real that Trumpian trends in the United States may return to normal in the midterm elections or the next presidential election,” said Alexander Vershbow, former US diplomat and once NATO undersecretary general. .
The sequence of the trip is deliberate: Biden consulting with Western European allies for much of a week in a show of unity before his summit with Putin in Geneva.
Biden is also scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while in Brussels, a face-to-face meeting between two leaders who have had many tense moments in their relationship over the years.
The journey will focus more on messaging than specific actions or offers. And the top priority for Biden, who leaves for his first stop in the UK on Wednesday, is convincing the world that his administration is not just a fleeting deviation in the trajectory of an American foreign policy that many allies fear will deviate irrevocably. towards one more. transactional perspective under former President Donald Trump.
At their face-to-face meeting in Geneva, Biden wants to privately pressure Putin to end countless provocations, including cybersecurity attacks on American companies by Russian-based hackers, the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei. Navalny and the Kremlin’s repeated overt and covert efforts to interfere in the US elections.
Biden also seeks to rally allies in his response to COVID-19 and urge them to unite around a strategy to control emerging economic and national security competitor China, even as the US expresses concern about Europe’s economic ties with Moscow. Biden also wants to push peripheral allies, including Australia, to make more aggressive commitments to the global effort to curb global warming.
There are several potential areas of tension. On climate change, the United States aims to regain its credibility after Trump withdrew the country from the fight against global warming. Biden could also feel pressure about the trade, an issue he hasn’t paid much attention to yet. And with the United States well stocked with COVID-19 vaccines but struggling to persuade some of its own citizens to use it, leaders whose inoculation campaigns have been slower will surely pressure Biden to share more surpluses around the world.
Another central focus will be China. Biden and the other G-7 leaders will announce an infrastructure financing program for developing countries that is intended to compete directly with Beijing’s Belt-and-Road Initiative. But not all European powers have seen China in such a harsh light as Biden, who has painted the rivalry with the techno-security state as the defining competition for the 21st century.
The European Union has avoided taking as strong a stance on Beijing’s crackdown on the Hong Kong democracy movement or the treatment of Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in western Xinjiang province as the Biden administration would like. But there are signs that Europe is ready to put Beijing under greater scrutiny.
In March, the EU announced sanctions against four Chinese officials involved 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.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism