Biden Pitching Partnership With Allies 09/19 09:21
President Joe Biden goes before the United Nations this week eager to make
the case for the world to act with haste against the coronavirus, climate
change and human rights abuses. His pitch for greater global partnership comes
at a moment when allies are becoming increasingly skeptical about how much U.S.
foreign policy really has changed since Donald Trump left the White House.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden goes before the United Nations this
week eager to make the case for the world to act with haste against the
coronavirus, climate change and human rights abuses. His pitch for greater
global partnership comes at a moment when allies are becoming increasingly
skeptical about how much U.S. foreign policy really has changed since Donald
Trump left the White House.
Biden plans to limit his time at the U.N. General Assembly due to
coronavirus concerns. He is scheduled to meet with Secretary-General Antonio
Guterres on Monday and address the assembly on Tuesday before shifting the rest
of the week's diplomacy to virtual and Washington settings.
At a virtual COVID-19 summit he is hosting Wednesday, leaders will be urged
to step up vaccine-sharing commitments, address oxygen shortages around the
globe and deal with other critical pandemic-related issues.
The president also has invited the prime ministers of Australia, India and
Japan, part of a Pacific alliance, to Washington and is expected to meet with
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House.
Through it all, Biden will be the subject of a quiet assessment by allies:
Has he lived up to his campaign promise to be a better partner than Trump?
Biden's chief envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Linda
Thomas-Greenfield, offered a harmonious answer in advance of all the diplomacy:
"We believe our priorities are not just American priorities, they are global
priorities," she said Friday.
But over the past several months, Biden has found himself at odds with
allies on a number of high-profile issues.
There have been noted differences over the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan,
the pace of COVID-19 vaccine-sharing and international travel restrictions, and
the best way to respond to military and economic moves by China. A fierce
French backlash erupted in recent days after the U.S. and Britain announced
they would help equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.
Biden opened his presidency by declaring that "America is back" and pledging
a more collaborative international approach.
At the same time, he has focused on recalibrating national security
priorities after 20 years marked by preoccupation with wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan and thwarting Islamic terrorists in the Middle East and South Asia.
He has tried to make the case that the U.S. and its democratic allies need to
put greater focus on countering economic and security threats posed by China
Biden has faced resistance -- and, at moments, outright anger -- from allies
when the White House has moved on important global decisions with what some
deemed insufficient consultation.
France was livid about the submarine deal, which was designed to bolster
Australian efforts to keep tabs on China's military in the Pacific but
undercuts a deal worth at least $66 billion for a fleet of a dozen submarines
built by a French contractor.
French President Emmanuel Macron has recalled France's ambassadors to the
U.S. and Australia for consultations in Paris. France's foreign minister,
Jean-Yves Le Drian, said Australia and the United States had both betrayed
France. Biden and Macron are expected to speak by phone in the coming days, a
French government spokesman said.
"It was really a stab in the back," he said. "It looks a lot like what Trump
Biden administration and Australian officials say that France was aware of
their plans, and the White House promised to "continue to be engaged in the
coming days to resolve our differences."
But Biden and European allies have also been out of sync on other matters,
including how quickly wealthy nations should share their coronavirus vaccine
stockpiles with poorer nations.
Early on, Biden resisted calls to immediately begin donating 4% to 5% of
stockpiles to developing nations. In June, the White House instead announced it
was buying 500 million doses to be distributed by a World Health
Organization-backed initiative to share vaccine with low- and middle-income
countries around the globe. Biden is soon expected to announce additional steps
to help vaccinate the world.
Allies among the Group of Seven major industrial nations have shown
differing levels of comfort with Biden's calls to persuade fellow democratic
leaders to present a more unified front to compete economically with Beijing.
When the leaders met this year in England, they agreed to work toward competing
against China. But there was less unity on how adversarial a public position
the group should take.
Canada, the United Kingdom and France largely endorsed Biden's position,
while Germany, Italy and the European Union showed more hesitancy.
Germany, which has strong trade ties with China, has been keen to avoid a
situation in which Germany, or the European Union, might be forced to choose
sides between China and the United States.
Biden clashed with European leaders over his decision to stick to an Aug. 31
deadline to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which resulted in the U.S. and
Western allies leaving before all their citizens could be evacuated from
Britain and other allies, many of whose troops followed American forces into
Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the United States, had
urged Biden to keep the American military at the Kabul airport longer but were
ultimately rebuffed by the president.
Administration officials see this week's engagements as an important moment
for the president to spell out his priorities and rally support to take on
multiple crises with greater coordination.
It's also a time of political transition for some allies. Longtime German
Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to leave office after Germany holds elections
later this month and France's Macron is to face his voters in April at a moment
when his political star has dimmed.
J. Stephen Morrison, a global health policy expert at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies in Washington, expressed concern that the
rift in U.S.-France relations has occurred at time when global leaders are far
behind their goals for vaccinating the globe and need to step up their efforts.
"We need these countries to be in a position to come forward around the type
of agenda ... that the U.S. has put together," Morrison said of Biden's planned
vaccination push. "So the French being absent or not terribly engaged is a