Get back in revenge: The president of the United States shakes hands and pats images on the shoulders in Europe. Joe Biden embarked on his first overseas visit as president, traditionally embracing American allies again. “America is back,” he called it himself. After a cold and distant four years under the leadership of his predecessor Trump.
But what we will hear and see in text and images in the next few days is also what is happening in reality? Or has the relationship between the United States and Europe really changed, this is the strongest alliance on earth since World War II?
Since Biden will reach the top one after another in the next few days, he must read between the lines. After British Prime Minister Johnson, he will meet the leaders of the G7 industrialized developed countries this weekend, after which NATO partners and EU leaders will be included on Monday and Tuesday.
In recent years, international summits have often led to stress tests.It’s not uncommon that President Trump dropped a bomb before his arrival: he threatened to destroy NATO blow, Calling the EU “worse than China” and withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement. Where Trump argues with his Democratic allies, he seems to get along well with dictators such as Putin and Kim Jong Un.
Biden is not Trump. In the next few days, he will deliver this reassuring message to London, Brussels and Geneva. The new President of the United States came to Europe with the message that democracies must unite against the development of dictatorships in the world. “We need to prove that democracy is effective,” Biden said before leaving.
But this is the first doubt on the European side. In Brussels, they know very well that Donald Trump’s America has not disappeared. He is not in power now, but may return to the White House after 2024. As a shining example of democracy, the United States is now plagued by lies, political propaganda, and electoral subversion at the highest level.
The suspicion is mutual. The frustration that could be heard during Trump’s administration did not suddenly disappear during Biden’s administration. With such a divided EU, you will never be able to truly shake hands with Europe internationally. A Europe that has always promised to spend more money on defense within NATO, but has never done so.
In Washington, before this trip, the warm bond with Europe was called a beautiful ritual, and in the final analysis it was useless. This was evident in the many major decisions that Biden made without consulting Europe in the first few months of his presidency.
At the end of April, he decided that it was time to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, where more Europeans than Americans are stationed in NATO. However, the European partners only heard about it shortly before Biden announced the decision, and they could only follow suit.
The same happened when Biden abruptly agreed to abandon the patent rights for the corona vaccine last month. They are mainly developed in Europe and the United States, and the two have been cooperating. This time, Biden’s decision to Brussels was completely unexpected. The message is clear: For the new US government, their ideas in Brussels are not that important.
Focus on China
Most of the reason for this situation lies in China. Biden also got this from his predecessor Trump: The guiding principle of US foreign policy is now China’s emerging power. “China wants to be the most powerful country in the world,” Biden said earlier, “I won’t let this happen.”
In the past, when the Cold War was the foundation of US foreign policy, Europe, as Russia’s neighbor, was on the front line.Later on ‘War on Terror’ The same is true; bombs also exploded in London, Paris, and Brussels, and Europe sent troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Europe and the United States need each other.
Now that Biden is focused on fighting China, Europe has disappeared from the US priority list. Biden’s focus on China is a potential split between the United States and the European Union. The US government hopes to control China through economic pressure, such as imposing high tariffs and sanctions on Chinese technology products. This is only really effective if European countries participate.
But so far, there hasn’t been much enthusiasm there. German Chancellor Merkel believes that protecting the German economy is more important starting from the automotive industry. French President Macron talked about “strategic autonomy” when talking about China. In other words, the interests of the United States will not automatically become the interests of Europe.
In short: it will be watched together in the next few days, but there are some serious points of contention below the surface. Of course there will be results, such as the trade between the United States and the European Union. An agreement is expected to end the expensive tariffs imposed on aluminum and steel, which were introduced in 2018 after the trade dispute.
The G7 is moving towards a firm commitment to provide vaccine assistance to poorer countries. For Biden, these successes can achieve the main purpose of his journey: to show that the United States is once again a constructive partner and willing to play a leading role internationally. I hope that the damage to reputation in the past few years will be slowly forgotten.