The beacons have turned, the tone has changed. On his first foreign trip as president, Joe Biden delivered what he promised: a reassessment of US attitudes toward Europe and Russia. While his predecessor, Donald Trump, considered the European Union a hostile rival, actually wanted to bury NATO and showed great admiration for Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Biden once again puts the EU first, he is once again looking for a single line within NATO. He is certainly not conscious of his criticism of Putin.
This does not solve all the problems, but changing the beacons relaxes us. That Biden has addressed the British about the consequences of Brexit for Northern Ireland, for example, is fully justified. The fact that he has suspended the endless row between the European Union and the United States over government aid to aircraft manufacturers (Airbus and Boeing) for a while shows his need for cooperation. Now that Turkey regularly enters into conflicts with European allies in NATO and buys anti-aircraft defenses from Russia is commendable, he’s calling on Turkey. His advocacy of authoritarian Russia and its destabilizing activities in Eastern Europe is most welcome.
Additional steps are needed
For the United States, support from Europe is, of course, absolutely necessary. As a world-class economic bloc, the European Union is a critical ally in any strategic and economic conflicts with China. In addition, Biden also wants to embark on climate policy, a file in which the European Union plays a leading role. It has been proven many times that also in cyberspace, where China and Russia move aggressively, the United States can use support from Europe or NATO. Just as they can also seek support from each other and from allies in “softer” areas, such as the worldwide provision of coronavirus vaccines – a file that requires additional steps.
Although Trump’s sometimes odd years suggest otherwise, European countries and the United States have a lot in common. Not only because of their democratic traditions or their economic model, but also because of the problems they face. Such as declining economic power, consequences of climate shift, dangers of local polarization, wide gap between rich and poor, persistent tax evasion by large corporations, difficulty in dealing with the dark sides of their past, etc.
There are also differences, of course. In any case, it is good that solutions to common problems are jointly sought for the time being.
Commentary is Trouw’s opinion expressed by members of the editorial board and senior editors.
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