Sharm Alsheikh, Egypt
It’s a story President Joe Biden At nearly every opportunity he says: Last year, when he met his new counterparts at his first international summit, he proudly told them, “America is back.”
“till when?” Someone asked.
As Biden departs this week for a week-long round-the-world trip, the question still resonates.
“They are very concerned that we are still the open democracy that we used to be, that we have rules and that institutions matter,” Biden said Wednesday during a press conference.
Biden hopes to make his stops at the climate meeting here on the Red Sea, the Southeast Asian gathering in Cambodia, and the high-stakes G-20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, to assert US leadership in the regions. Former President Donald Trump It was either ignored or actively avoided.
“If the United States were to withdraw from the world tomorrow, a lot of things would change around the world. A lot would change,” Biden said before his trip.
He and his advisors believe they are entering the series of high-stakes meetings with a powerful argument that will persist in their narrative of the United States’ role in the world. Resist historical and political headwinds in this year’s midterm elections while many of Trump’s hand-picked candidates lost. And over the past year, he has secured passage of a major climate investment and rallied the world behind efforts to support Ukraine and isolate Russia.
However, US allies’ concerns remain about the future of US commitments – to Ukraine, the fighting Climate change, to treaty partners, and perhaps more urgently, to uphold democratic norms. Foreign diplomats have watched with interest the midterm winding down of the political season, looking for clues about how American voters will judge Biden’s first two years in office and report back to their capitals about voter discontent that could fuel Trump’s return to office.
The Republicans seem to be heading for control of the House of Representatives As of Wednesday night. Trump is preparing to make a third presidential bid, likely to be announced while Biden is on the other side of the planet.
White House aides have not expressed concern about the possibility of a split screen, believing that foreign policy is among the president’s strengths, especially when compared to Trump’s chaotic style of diplomacy.
“We just have to prove that he’s not going to take over,” Biden said on Wednesday. “If he runs, rest assured that, under the legitimate efforts of our Constitution, he never becomes the next president again.”
Presidents have often resorted to foreign policy, where they can act with relatively few congressional constraints, in moments of domestic political turmoil. President Barack Obama He launched a similar tour of Asia after describing himself as a “bombard” in mid-2010.
Four specific global threats loom over Biden’s trip: Russia’s war in UkraineEscalating tensions with China, the existential problem of climate change and the possibility of a global recession in the coming months. Other ignition points, such as North KoreaAccelerating provocations and uncertainty about Iran’s nuclear program will also affect.
Of these, the defense of Ukraine and the fight against climate change may be affected the most by this week’s election results.
At the G-20 summit, Biden hopes to rally the leaders of the world’s advanced economies behind his 10-month effort to isolate and punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. He is not planning to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who He will not attend the meeting in person And think about whether it will participate by default.
However, global economic headwinds tested the international determination of the pressure campaign, and world leaders worked with varying levels of intensity toward finding a diplomatic end to the conflict.
Some Trump-aligned Republicans have called for funding to be cut to Ukraine, despite GOP defense hawks vowing not to abandon the country amid its war with Russia.
House Republican Leader McCarthy, in an interview with CNN this week, attempted to reaffirm his support for Ukraine while saying they would not automatically approve any additional requests for assistance.
“I am very supportive of Ukraine,” McCarthy said. “I think there has to be accountability moving forward. … you always need, not a blank check, but make sure the resources are going to where you need them. And make sure that Congress and the Senate have the ability to discuss it publicly.”
At the UN climate summit in Egypt, Biden arrived after he signed the largest US investment in fighting climate change ever, a very different scenario from previous international meetings – including last year’s meeting in Scotland – where US commitments to reduce carbon were not backed by law.
“We have seen the United States go from a globally underdeveloped country to a world leader in less than 18 months,” a senior administration official said this week.
The $375 billion commitment will provide Biden with leverage as he works to persuade other countries to step up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, all with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
In his speech, the official said, Biden will call on states to “keep their eyes on the ball when it comes to accelerating ambitious work to reduce emissions.” And the Will highlight his management’s intention to propose This week’s rule requires major federal contractors to develop carbon reduction and greenhouse gas emissions detection targets, harness the federal government’s purchasing power to combat climate change in the private sector and bolster vulnerable supply chains.
But Republicans said they would work to repeal parts of the law, accusing Biden of contributing to higher energy prices by blocking the extraction of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.
When Trump was president, the United States pulled out entirely from the Paris climate agreement, leaders of the agreement are meeting to discuss this week.
Even in the absence of US political uncertainty, there are concerns that energy costs are rising and a looming recession may dampen resolve to transition to cleaner energy. US officials have tempered expectations for this year’s summit, which Biden is only expected to attend for a few hours.
In Congress, Biden has achieved more bipartisan success in his efforts to confront China, the other major issue he will face this week. A recently passed law aimed at boosting the US semiconductor industry won both Republican and Democratic votes, in part because it promised to wean the United States off its dependence on Chinese products.
Biden aides have worked over the past month to arrange his first face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping since taking office, even as tensions between Washington and Beijing rage. The meeting will be held on Monday At the G20 in Indonesia. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to self-government in August Taiwan It angered Chinese leaders and led to a near-total severance of communication with the United States.
Biden said Wednesday that he and Xi will outline “what each of our red lines are” and discuss issues they each believe serve their “critical national interests” during the meeting.
In his recently released National Security Strategy, Biden identified China as “America’s most important geopolitical challenge,” and hopes a personal meeting with Xi — who has resumed international travel after the Covid-19 pandemic — will help establish lines of communication.
Xi arrives at the G-20 after a landmark Communist Party congress that elevated him to an unprecedented third term – in sharp contrast to Biden’s current political standing.
It is not yet clear how this disparity will appear in Bali.
“The big question is whether the two leaders will come in a more conciliatory setting or a more challenging kind,” said Matthew Goodman, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“They both have gone through their political events of the year and may be more liberal for one reason or another to try and find common ground,” Goodman said. There is a type of global challenge that really affects both the United States and China – whether it’s growth, pandemics, or climate change. And so there is potential for some kind of conciliatory approach on both sides.”
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