WASHINGTON: The leader of the free world seems like a superhero character, but Joe Biden, who heads to the twin European summits this week, is actually a politically weak president who, somehow, has to solve an incredible string of diplomatic problems. work with.
Biden arrived in Germany on Saturday for a G7 summit of major Western powers, followed by a NATO military alliance summit in Madrid next week.
Both sessions will be in the shadow of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but also a global surge in inflation, fears of a recession, and the ever-increasing challenge of controlling China while avoiding open conflict.
According to a senior US official, of course, Biden will tout the success of a monumental effort to rally the West and revitalize NATO – a “high water mark in transatlantic solidarity in the post-Cold War period”.
But the less flattering picture is that of a 79-year-old politician whose approval rating at home has dropped below 40 percent and whose Democratic Party is likely to lose control of Congress this November, giving way to vindictive Republican opponents.
As Donald Trump – who spent four years in the White House tearing up US alliances – prepares to match his potential revenge in the 2024 presidential election, Biden is the first to admit that not everyone looks at the United States with confidence. Huh.
“I travel the world trying to put things back together,” Biden told an audience of trade union members this month, and “no matter where I go … they see me And I say – I say, ‘America is back,’ and they look and I and they say: ‘How long?'”
‘point of transition’
Biden referred to his presidency as an inflection point in the fight for the survival of Western democracy against the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as internal attacks, such as Trump’s attempt to reverse the 2020 election.
A large part of that campaign is rebuilding alliances and restoring the traditional American role as a first among equals – in contrast to Trump’s policy of treating all countries as bitter rivals.
In both Germany and Spain, Biden would be able to demonstrate considerable success, particularly with regard to Russia’s response to an attack in Ukraine.
“He came into office with the clear purpose of reviving and strengthening our allies, our alliances and our partnerships around the world, and that’s exactly what he has done,” White House spokesman John Kirby said.
“He has been oblivious to harnessing the cohesive power of the United States of America that is still substantial, still relevant, still viable. The free world has demonstrated incredible unity.”
multilateral leadership needed
But for all the self-congratulation coming from Bavaria and Madrid, Western partners have been dealt an increasingly difficult blow from their own sanctions on Russia.
His coordinated effort to shut down Russia’s economy and cripple the ruble has apparently not worked so far, while spiraling energy costs are instead inflicting a political price on leaders like Biden at home.
A US official said the G7 would “roll out” more measures to “increase the pressure” on Moscow. But there will also be a parallel question for the leaders to ponder.
“How do we maximize the pain on Putin’s regime? How can we minimize spill-backs to the rest of the world? And I think that’s exactly what will be discussed about energy markets and energy market challenges.” ,” said the officer.
Amid warnings of Ukraine’s fatigue in western capitals, Biden says the transatlantic coalition will have to toughen it up.
“At some point, it’s going to be a waiting game: what can the Russians maintain and what is Europe going to be prepared to maintain. That’s one of the things we’re going to talk about in Spain. are,” he said.
If that’s going to happen – and if the West is going to stick together with the growing threat of a global recession – a lot may depend on Biden.
“Leadership matters a lot here,” Kirby said.
“Multilateral leadership matters a lot – because it’s not just affecting the United States, it’s affecting the whole world.”