This week, President Joe Biden will be appearing before the United Nations to argue for the world’s urgent response to the coronavirus and climate change. At a time when allies are increasingly skeptical about the extent of U.S. foreign policies since Donald Trump’s departure, his pitch for greater global cooperation comes at an important moment.
Due to concerns about coronavirus, Biden will limit his attendance at the U.N. General Assembly. Biden will meet with Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. He will then address the assembly Tuesday. The rest of this week’s diplomacy will shift to Washington and virtual settings.
He will host a virtual COVID-19 summit Wednesday where leaders will be asked to increase vaccine-sharing commitments and address oxygen shortages around world.
The president has also invited the prime ministers from Australia, India, and Japan to Washington as part of a Pacific alliance. He is expected to meet with Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, at the White House.
Allies will have a quiet assessment of Biden’s performance throughout the whole thing: Did he live up to his campaign promise that he would be a better partner for Trump?
Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, Biden’s chief representative to the United Nations offered a unified answer before all the diplomacy. She stated that “We believe our priorities not only are American priorities, but they are global priorities.”
Over the last few months, Biden has been at odds with his allies on several high-profile issues.
There are differences about the U.S. withdrawal form Afghanistan, the pace and restrictions on international travel, as well as the best way to react to China’s military and economic moves. After the U.S. announced that they would provide submarines with nuclear-powered power to Australia, a fierce French backlash followed.
Biden began his presidency declaring “America is back” as well as promising a more cooperative international approach.
He has also refocused his national security priorities on recalibrating them after 20 years of being preoccupied with wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and fighting Islamic terrorists in South Asia and the Middle East. He has made the argument that the U.S. and its democratic ally should be more focused on countering the economic and security threats posed to them by Russia and China.
Biden was confronted with resistance and even anger from his allies as the White House made important decisions globally without sufficient consultation.
France was furious about the submarine deal. It was meant to support Australian efforts to monitor China’s military activities in the Pacific, but it undercut a deal worth at most $66 billion for a fleet consisting of 12 submarines built by a French contractor.