Joe Biden will use his visit to Europe this week to “bring world democracies together” to restart US foreign policy after four turbulent years under Donald Trump – as Trump’s threats to American democracy multiply at home.
The president’s plan for the trip was set out in a column for the Washington Post on Saturday night as Trump spoke with Republicans in North Carolina.
Preliminary meetings with “many of our closest democratic partners”
Critics may say the president would do well to deal with attacks on democracy at home. He appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to answer the question, but there are many fronts in the battle.
In the United States, Republicans have passed laws restricting access to ballots and allowing them to overturn election results.
On the stump, Trump continues to spread his lie that Biden’s victory in November was the result of fraud. In Greenville on Saturday, the former president called his defeat “the crime of the century.”
In Washington last month, Republicans in the Senate blocked a bipartisan commission investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters whom Trump told “fight like hell” in his cause.
In Biden’s own party, centrist senators are obstructing the protection of voting rights.
In his Mail column, Biden linked another domestic priority, the infrastructure spending currently tied up in seemingly doomed negotiations with Republicans, to a major foreign policy goal.
“Just like at home,” he writes, “improving the ability of democracies to compete and protecting our people against unforeseen threats requires us to invest in infrastructure. The world’s major democracies will offer China a high-quality alternative to upgrading its physical, digital and health infrastructure that is more sustainable and supports global development. “
In North Carolina, Trump said China must pay the United States and the world $ 10 million in reparations to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, while countries must cancel their debt to Beijing.
Biden highlighted the internal successes – progress against the coronavirus and the passage of its relief and stimulus package (without a single Republican vote) – and said: “The United States must lead the world from a strong position.”
He welcomed the announcement by the G7 finance ministers of the global corporate tax rate. Further distancing himself from Trump, who withdrew from the Paris climate deal, he said: “We have the opportunity to make ambitious progress that limits the climate crisis and creates jobs by stimulating a global transition to clean energy.”
In office, Trump attacked NATO. Biden hailed the “shared democratic values” of “the most successful union in world history.” In Brussels, at the NATO summit, I will reaffirm the unwavering commitment of the United States to ensure that our alliance is strong in the face of any challenge, including threats such as cyberattacks on our critical infrastructure. “
Amid the proliferation of such attacks, he said it was important “when I meet with Vladimir Putin in Geneva, it will be after high-level discussions with friends, partners and allies who look at the world through the same position as the United States.”
Trump caused awe among the American press corps in Helsinki in 2018 by meeting with Putin without aides and looking embarrassed in his presence.
Biden said the United States and its allies “are united to meet Russia’s challenges to European security … and there will be no doubt about the United States’ determination to defend our democratic values, which we cannot separate from our interests.” .
Some asked what Biden hoped to meet with Putin – former Trump national security adviser John Bolton told the Guardian this week: “You meet when you have a strategy instead of how to deal with Russia and I don’t think he has one. “
In the Post, Biden announced the extension of the New Start nuclear weapons treaty and the responses to cyberattacks.
“I will reiterate the commitment of the United States, Europe and democratic supporters to uphold human rights and dignity,” he wrote.
“This is a defining question for our time: can democracies come together to achieve real results for our people in a rapidly changing world?” Will the democratic unions and institutions that have shaped so much of the last century prove their ability against modern threats and adversaries?
“I believe the answer is yes. And this week in Europe we have a chance to prove it. “