The main topic of President Biden’s European Grand Tour is to proclaim that Trump’s foreign policy was “America First” and “America’s Back.” Biden still needs to communicate, besides ensuring everyone that he is NOT Donald Trump.
If it’s all that he does, it’s a lost chance. President Trump was not the cause of the split between the United States and many European countries; he was the symptom of a growing drift in how our interest was seen on both sides of the Atlantic.
Yes, Trump could be bold, rude, disrespectful. It wasn’t something with which European diplomats were comfortable. The President, however, had a point in raising some disagreeable realities.
President Biden considers climate change our biggest danger to national security. When he concentrates on this one issue throughout his visit, he lets our opponents and our allies off the hook.
Europeans have reluctantly dealt with China on economic and cyber security problems, and have hesitated to give Russian aggression over Ukraine and energy dependency more than lip service. If we do not push our partners in Europe to reach a single cause, our opponents will pick us up on trade, free markets, cyber security and even climate change, one by one. That’s what our opponents bank on — divide and conquer.
We have subsequently learnt a lot about the character of the Chinese dictatorship and its objective of attaining global premium, as proof of the involvement of China in the birth and spread of Covid 19 and its aggressive measures. They want to recreate the liberal international order on their terms and at our price in the next decade or two.
That is why it is heartening that President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission asked for unrestricted inquiry into the origins of Covid-19. President Biden should promise full support to America for these endeavors.
However, there are other sectors waiting for US leadership, particularly in the sphere of commerce.
The United States and the UK, for example, are presently entering into trade discussions. Most of the key problems were straightened out. Although it takes many months until an agreement is completed, it will now offer both of our economy with a significant boost as we emerge from the epidemic. It might also act as a precursor to a trade pact between the USA and Europe.
In the previous eighteen months, we and Europeans have also learnt the significance of security of the supply chain in energy, medicine, key infrastructure or technology. Obviously, no country in all these sectors can be self-sufficient. But we can be if liberal democracies work together.
Cyber defense is an issue that cries out for American leadership. There is a NATO military alliance already in place to dissuade and fight against Russian attack.
When President Biden visits NATO leaders, he might promise U.S. leadership to revise the NATO Treaty to include a substantial, offensive and defensive cyber component. This would indicate to Russians that we would not allow hackers to attack our governments and private sector without endangering their own networks.
We have friends, even if we don’t agree on everything, as the greatest advantage liberal democracies have against our opponents.
The communist countries, in particular China and Russia, have no such pals. They can never and will never. You only have victims and vassals.
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This power can never be achieved unless we engage with our European friends and persuade them to take the sometimes difficult and unpleasant actions needed to stand up against bullies.
The great European visit of President Biden – with the like-minded countries of the G7, the European Union and NATO – is a chance for this.
This is the holiday of President Biden with immense goodwill on all sides, which welcomes every new president. But there is a fresh urgency to cooperate with our economic and security friends this time.
We all strive to find out how our economy and communities emerge from the epidemic and to ensure our peace and prosperity over the years to come. The chance can be seized by President Biden. Otherwise, he won’t get a second opportunity to establish a first impression.