WASHINGTON—During his first trip outside of the United States as president, Joe Biden learned that leaders of this country’s allies, like U.S. residents, breathed a sigh of relief that Donald J. Trump is no longer in charge. But, despite his proclamations that the country “is back,” U.S. power has diminished.
“The United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together,” Mr. Biden said June 10 when he arrived in the U.K. for his first round of talks.
“America is back at the table,” Mr. Biden said June 13 during a press conference as he concluded his first Group of Seven (G-7) summit of world economic powers and prepared to head for Brussels for another round of talks with top allies at a NATO summit, and then on to Geneva for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“America’s back in the business of leading the world alongside nations who share our most deeply held values,” Mr. Biden continued.
Many leaders at the G-7 meeting, including those from Germany, France and Canada, seemed eager to move past Mr. Trump; so much so that they greeted Mr. Biden like he was an old friend, according to published reports.
Mr. Biden’s election has led to a dramatic shift in the U.S. international image, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. Throughout Mr. Trump’s presidency, people around the world held the United States in low regard, with most opposed to his foreign policies, especially among key U.S. allies and partners, a June 10 report revealed.
Now, a new Pew survey done in 16 countries finds a significant uptick in ratings for the U.S., with strong support for Mr. Biden and several of his major policy initiatives.
“In each of the 16 publics surveyed, more than six-in-ten say they have confidence in Biden to do the right thing in world affairs,” according to the report released on June 10. “Looking at 12 nations surveyed both this year and in 2020, a median of 75 percent express confidence in Biden, compared with 17 percent for Trump last year.”
But with that renewed popularity for the U.S. leader, has come a diminution of U.S. power. “The U.S is not the primary global power anymore,” Margaret Flowers, a 2020 Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland said in an interview. “The field has changed to being a more multi-polar world. And the U.S has to recognize that if it wants to continue to be relevant, but I don’t think that, from what Biden has been saying, I don’t think that he gets that.”
While there have been increasing calls among NGOs (non-governmental organizations) for demilitarization around the world, the U.S., under Mr. Biden, continues its military escalation. “We are looking at a further increase in Pentagon spending. That’s the Biden Administration’s proposal. An increase even from the Trump Administration,” Ariel Gold, national co-director of CODEPINK Women for Peace said in an interview.
“I mean, America is back as a continued military superpower,” Ms. Gold continued, but “what does it mean for America to be back? We may have more credibility, but Biden has been heating up the Cold War with China. A dangerous, dangerous, Cold War with dangerous rhetoric. This is the opposite of trying to bring the world together and looking for places and ways to cooperate.”
While people and leaders around the world are not missing Mr. Trump’s braggadocio, there is still a lot of theater involved in these summit meetings. “Basically, these summits are really performative, the policies don’t really change,” said Ms. Flowers.
“What Trump did, was pretty brazen about the USA’s positions and the actions he took served to isolate the United States and to further show that the U.S. is only interested in itself and is not a co-operative member of the global community.
“And we have a National Security Policy of great power conflict with China and Russia. So, everything that we do is in that lens of protecting U.S corporate interests and stoking aggression with Russia and China.
“What Biden is trying to do is kind of make up for what Trump did and re-assert the United States as a global leader, but whether that’s going to be successful, I think the playing field has really changed significantly and I don’t think that Biden is going to be as successful at that as he would like to be,” Ms. Flowers continued.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris made her first foreign trip at the same time, traveling to Guatemala and to Mexico in an attempt to stem the tide of immigrants flooding the U.S. southern border.
In Guatemala, she was taunted by protestors who carried signs and chanted “Trump Won,” and “Go Home,” and back home she was jeered by Republican leaders and others when she told them “Don’t come,” don’t migrate to the U.S.
“I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border,” Ms. Harris said ahead of her June 8 meeting in Mexico City with that country’s President Manuel Lopez Obrador. The Biden administration says it wants to stop migration by addressing poverty, violence and political corruption in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Republican lawmakers criticized the Biden administration for first focusing on Central America and not on the desperate situation at the U.S. border with Mexico.
In her remarks, the vice president, who is the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father who both immigrated to this country, failed to acknowledge how U.S. intervention and foreign policy in Central America have contributed to the root causes of why people flee in the first place.
“Well, this is another area where the Biden administration has remained consistent,” said Ms. Flowers. “I think it’s interesting that Vice President Harris has been kind of tasked with dealing with immigration, but she’s not talking about the drivers of immigration to the United States.
I mean, her words of just saying, don’t come to the United States, were pretty stark and out of touch. The United States policy towards Latin America is that we view it as ours,” Ms. Flowers continued.
“Really, the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well. And the U.S has been working for a long time to undermine any Latin American countries that try to protect their own interests and use their resources to benefit their own people and limit U.S Corporations from being able to come in there and exploit their labor and their resources.”
U.S. policies in the Muslim world will also get some attention during Mr. Biden’s travels. During the 31st formal meeting of the heads of state and heads of government of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), held in Brussels, Belgium, on June 14, Mr. Biden plans to hold a separate bi-lateral meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, president of NATO member state Turkey, and during his meetings in Geneva, Switzerland June 16 with Russian President Putin, U.S. policy toward Syria—a Russian ally—are certain to be discussed.
“And so, I think we’re just seeing a real continuation of the U.S foreign policy in the Middle East,” said Ms. Flowers. “I’m sure that there’s a lot of anger (in the U.S.) that President Bashar Assad won his re-election and one of the first things that happened under the Biden administration, was the bombing on the border of Syria.
“So, I don’t think that we’re going to see anything changing there significantly and then, again, a lot of this is really performative and it’ll be interesting to see what comes out of the meeting with President Putin but when it comes to the Muslim world, I think we’re not really going to see a significant change under Biden,” said Ms. Flowers.
“I’ll travel to Geneva to sit down with a man I’ve spent time with before, President Vladimir Putin,” Mr. Biden said to cheers from many of the 1,000 airmen, their spouses and children in the audience when he arrived at U.S. Air Force Base RAF Mildenhall in the U.K. on June 8.
“We are not seeking conflict with Russia. We want a stable, predictable relationship. Our two nations share incredible responsibilities and, among them, ensuring strategic stability and upholding arms control agreements,” Mr. Biden declared.