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Think of it as a more global, multilateralist view of America First. It’s not a completely new concept for Biden. But it gets all the more critical as he continues to push for trillions of dollars in spending and tries to control the proportion of working class voters who helped him win in 2020. His early term in office was not marked by wars and stranger entanglements, but rather the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn, which forced him to put his first love – foreign policy – in the background.
“Not only does he enjoy it, he understands it too. He studied it. And it’s something that is very much part of his nature, because he has never seen foreign policy separate from domestic policy or the interests of the United States, ”said Chuck Hagel, a friend who served alongside Biden in the Senate and the Obama administration Administration as Minister of Defense. “He has always seen foreign policy as part of our country’s entire process of interests, be it international trade or the environment, terrorism, defense … all of these things are part of our own interests.”
But American voters aren’t Biden’s only audience. He will travel to Europe on Wednesday on an eight-day trip amid a tremendous trial by world leaders eager to see how he will tackle international issues as president, in part because he didn’t put much emphasis on them in his first four and a half months in office .
Biden will attend a Group of Seven World Leaders meeting in Cornwall, England to discuss a variety of topics including trade, taxes and Covid. He will then meet with the leaders of NATO and the European Union in Brussels on security in the face of the challenges posed by Russia and China. His last stop will be in Geneva, where he will meet in a bilateral conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin – a meeting for which Biden has already received criticism due to ongoing cyber aggression from Russia into the United States.
Biden invited Putin for a meeting, although that conversation doesn’t seem to have any immediate benefit. Still, the White House says Biden wanted to meet with Putin to push him directly on cyberattacks and human rights, and to speak about areas where they may have in common, including nuclear arms control and climate change. Biden staff say while the meeting is unlikely to result in major political deals, the president wanted to take the first step in building the relationship.
Biden’s record on the international scene has been a real weak spot at times, largely because of his support for the invasion of Iraq in 2002. In office, he made some similar marks to his predecessor Donald Trump – including support for a firm withdrawal from Afghanistan. Still, during his upcoming trip, he will attempt to portray his vision as the opposite of Trump’s America First foreign policy, which has dramatically destroyed longstanding alliances and actively undermined US leadership.
But much has changed at home and abroad in the four years of Trump’s presidency. The populism that fueled Trump’s rise has spread across the world. China has secured its place as the dominant economic rival of the US. And other countries, particularly European allies including the UK, France and Germany, have tried to fill the void the US has left, including keeping Iran’s nuclear ambitions in check and tackling climate change.
Indeed, at a time when America’s global supremacy seems threatened like never before, Biden will have to weigh a desire to emphasize internal priorities. In a statement to the Foreign Office in February, he outlined his approach when he bluntly stated that “there is no longer a clear line between foreign and domestic policy” and added: “Every measure we take in our behavior Overseas we have to think of working American families. ”He expanded it in a comment Hey wrote in the Washington Post this weekend before his trip.
“[A]”America’s economic recovery is helping to boost the global economy,” he wrote, “we will be stronger and more productive when we are flanked by nations that share our values and vision for the future – other democracies.”
Throughout the trip, Biden will stress that his foreign policy will bolster his domestic policy, particularly on the economy, by marrying the two in ways that other recent presidents, including Barack Obama, have failed.
“It really seems pretty clear that he sees his main agenda as a domestic one,” said a former Biden adviser on foreign affairs. “And for me, his foreign policy moves in terms of staff and investments have reflected that.”
Some critics and foreign policy experts have questioned whether this is practical, given the scale of the conflicts he will face – from fighting in the Middle East to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. And they wonder if Biden is just trying to do the bare minimum in foreign policy.
“There is definitely a desire to put foreign policy on hold, and really a hammer on domestic issues. I think they feel they have a window into a truly transformative domestic agenda, ”said James Carafano, a former Trump foreign affairs adviser who serves as director of the foreign affairs center at the Conservative Heritage Foundation. “This is generally what I would call risk averse, that is, the less we do, the fewer problems we will have, and we really need to go the minimal path that is necessary. And if that doesn’t work, maybe we’ll do a little more. “
Biden allies say he is doing very little on foreign policy. Instead, he realizes how closely it is tied to domestic issues. The President and his aides have tried to emphasize this connection on every opportunity they have regarding climate and trade, economy and Covid. When Biden announced last week that the US would donate 25 million doses of excess vaccine overseas, he immediately said it would help protect Americans still at risk.
Even on the biggest foreign policy initiatives – the need to support democratic governance – Biden has tied the world directly to domestic considerations.
“He rightly says that we are in a competition between democracies and autocracies, and that democracies like ours, in order to win this competition, have to prove that they can still deliver for the people – especially for those left behind,” said Ivo Daalder, a former US ambassador to NATO who is now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “That’s why his focus domestically is not only on Americans, but also on winning global competition with autocracies like China.”
Ash Jain, who served in the State Department under President George W. Bush and is now a Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council, said Biden will endeavor to show that global alliances “matter to ordinary Americans and that they can rely on this notion of a. benefit foreign policy for small and medium-sized enterprises. “
“I would expect him to highlight how the G-7 can help with issues like the COVID recovery, economic recovery efforts, the climate, and other things common to ordinary Americans are aware of,” he said.
Nowhere is this more pronounced than in economic questions. Biden, who built his political brand on coming from a working-class family in Scranton, Pennsylvania, has spoken repeatedly about how his work agenda and climate initiatives are directly needed to combat China’s economic rise.
Foreign Minister Antony Blinken hat said every foreign policy action will have a direct line to the economy. “We set the foreign policy priorities for the Biden administration by asking a few simple questions: What will our foreign policy mean for American workers and their families? What do we have to do around the world to get stronger here at home? And what do we have to do at home to become stronger in the world? ”That said Blinken in his first big speech in March.
Biden has urged Republicans to fund a combined $ 4 trillion for a one-time investment in infrastructure and welfare programs aimed at stimulating economic recovery and improving America’s social safety net. But Republicans have defied the scope and scope of Biden’s proposals, which include tax hikes for corporations and wealthy Americans.
This weekend, the G7 struck an agreement to make it harder for the world’s largest corporations to avoid taxes by setting a global corporate income tax threshold of at least 15 percent.
Significantly, the government was quick to advertise the domestic benefits that would accrue from it.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, “This global minimum tax would end the race to the bottom in corporate taxation and ensure fairness for the middle class and working population in the US and around the world.”