US President Biden brought the western alliance out of its shock after the Trump years. The unity towards Moscow is above all his merit. Still, things are not going well for him.
With a brisk step and a smile on his face, Joe Biden takes the podium at the end of his European tour in Madrid. “I think we all agree that this was a historic NATO summit,” said the US President.
“The United States is mobilizing the world to stand by Ukraine.” Biden has reunited the West. At the G7 meeting in Bavaria and at the NATO summit in Madrid, the partners demonstrated a unity that would have been hard to imagine before Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the order to attack. But while the foreign politician Biden is succeeding in Europe, the political hut is burning at home.
Trump’s pile of rubble
When Biden moved into the White House in early 2021, the G7 and NATO were in a deep crisis. This was caused by his predecessor Donald Trump, whose brutal “America First” policy shook the alliances to their very foundations. Senator Dick Durbin had now traveled to Madrid with a congressional delegation. After the NATO summit, the Democrat said about his party friend Biden:
“He managed to organize the free world in an unprecedented way and to mobilize it against Putin’s adventurism.” Even the Republicans in the delegation praised him: Biden “contributed significantly to the success of the summit,” admitted Senator Thom Tillis.
Who is the leader of the “free world”?
Modesty is not a typical trait of US presidents, they self-confidently see themselves as “leaders of the free world”. Trump’s isolationism led his critics to use the informal title of Angela Merkel at the time.
“The German chancellor is not only the leader of Europe, but the de facto leader of the free world,” wrote the British “Independent” in early 2017. Now Merkel is no longer chancellor, and his successor Olaf Scholz has not yet made his way beyond Germany profiled as a leader. The US government has long since reclaimed the honor for the current President.
Biden’s first trip abroad took him to the G7 summit in Cornwall and NATO in Brussels in June last year. Finally, he met Putin in Geneva, back then people still spoke to each other. During this trip to Europe a year ago, Biden “confidently and skillfully took on the task of leading the free world,” said his National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan afterwards. “The previous president gave up that job, and this president has now emphatically reclaimed it.”
Trump’s proximity to Putin – and Biden’s thanks for Scholz
As president, Biden has worked from the start to mend relations with allies. The unity that the West is currently showing towards Putin is probably Biden’s greatest foreign policy success to date. To this day, Republican Trump reveals an admiration for Putin that is disconcerting, even for party members.
As president, he sharply attacked allies like Germany. At that time it would have been hard to imagine what happened at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau: Biden emphasized that the unity of the West was in no small part due to Scholz. “You did an incredible job,” said the guest from America. “I want to thank you for that.”
Will Trump return to the White House?
However, it is unclear how long this unity will last – and may also have something to do with how long Biden has been in the White House. Shortly after the start of the Ukraine war, Biden recalled last year’s G7 summit in March.
“I sat down and I said, ‘America is back’. And one of my colleagues, a head of state, said, “For how long?” (…) I’m not criticizing anyone for asking that question.” Republican Trump keeps hinting that he could run again in 2024. Already in the congressional elections this November, Biden’s Democrats are threatened with losing majorities in both houses of parliament.
Helpless US President
Biden’s claim to leadership has been clear since he took office. Actually, in times of crisis, support for the political leadership grows – in the US this is called the “rally around the flag” effect. This describes that people symbolically gather around the flag. So far, however, Biden does not seem to be benefiting from this, quite the opposite.
Not only does he have to watch helplessly as the Supreme Court, which under Trump had a massive conservative majority, rolls back liberal achievements, the Supreme Court most recently overturned the right to abortion. Economic developments are also a cause for great concern before the congressional elections.
Gas prices explode – polls plummet
Biden is particularly affected by inflation. In May, consumer prices rose by 8.6 percent compared to the same month last year. On average, motorists even paid almost 50 percent more for their gasoline at the pump than a year earlier, this month the price rose above the psychologically important mark of five dollars per gallon (3.785 liters) for the first time.
In the meantime, fewer than 40 percent of respondents in surveys in the USA are positive about Biden’s work. The statisticians of the FiveThirtyEight website combine surveys and weight them, according to their overview even Trump did better at this point in the presidency – 41.8 percent of those surveyed were satisfied with his performance at the time, with Biden it was another three percent less recently. But that’s not all: according to the information, after 527 days in the White House, Harry Truman is the only US president who has had worse approval ratings than Biden since the Second World War.