America’s Comeback Tour
Overall, Joe Biden’s recent European tour – his first foreign trip as US president – deserves high marks for both planning and execution. But disagreements among democratic countries will not vanish overnight, nor will the West recover its former global standing any time soon.
MADRID – US President Joe Biden’s first international tour felt like a breath of fresh air. From the G7 summit in Cornwall to a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Biden carried out his duties with statesmanship and composure – a stark contrast from the mayhem and mendacity that characterized Donald Trump’s foreign visits. Biden’s trip sent a clear message: the United States is once again in good hands, which will be held out first and foremost to its traditional allies.
But Biden’s goals extend further: by rallying the world’s democracies to counter China and other autocracies, he hopes to engineer a kind of global democratic renaissance. His ability to realize this vision is far from clear. Yet he has wasted no time in getting down to business.
The last US president who chose Europe for his maiden foreign trip was Jimmy Carter, back in 1977. Carter’s tour started off in the United Kingdom, where he attended a G7 summit, and later took him to Switzerland, where he met Syrian President Hafez al-Assad (a Soviet ally). The parallels with Biden’s trip are unmistakable – and, given his longstanding admiration for Carter, perhaps not entirely coincidental.