The Week (US)

Biden reconnects with allies at G7 summit


What happened

Biden received a warm welcome from leaders of other wealthy democracie­s as the first Group of Seven summit in two years wrapped up this week with new pledges on taxes, climate change, and public health. “America is back at the table,” Biden said, signaling a return to pre-Trump, consensus-based foreign policy. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hosted the summit at the English resort town of Carbis Bay, called Biden’s arrival “a breath of fresh air,” and French President Emmanuel Macron said he welcomed the arrival of a U.S. president who’s “very willing to cooperate.” Leaders agreed to set a new 15 percent global minimum corporate tax, bring the total number of Covid-19 vaccines donated to poorer nations to 1 billion, and halve carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Their 25-page communiqué criticized Russian and Chinese belligeren­ce and requested an independen­t investigat­ion into the origins of Covid-19 in China.

Biden set a more amicable tone than Trump did at the 2019 conference in France, where the combative then-president declined to participat­e in climate talks and strongly lobbied for Russia’s readmissio­n. Still, the G7 nations remained divided on several key issues. They failed to adopt the United Kingdom’s proposal to eliminate coal power in 10 years, and language condemning Chinese forced labor was later dropped from the group’s statement. The G7’s vaccine promise fell far short of the 11 billion doses the World Health Organizati­on says are needed to inoculate 70 percent of the world by next summer.

What the editorials said

Biden made modest headway at reassertin­g America’s global authority—“and we mean modest,” said The Wall Street Journal. The G7 statement criticizes repression in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and it makes “a fleeting reference” to China’s commandeer­ing of disputed outlying islands. But the threat of alienating a major trade partner made European leaders, including Italy’s Mario Draghi and Germany’s Angela Merkel, balk at more decisive action. Biden may have rejected his predecesso­r’s “America First” bluster, but the G7 just offered a perfect example of “the weakness of multilater­alism backed only by gauzy, hopeful rhetoric.”

If the G7 hoped to demonstrat­e that Western democracie­s still offer the world more than autocratic China or Russia, said the Financial Times, they fell far short. The group has made “nowhere near enough progress” at reaching Paris climate agreement goals, and offered less than a 10th of the number of lifesaving vaccines needed to bring the pandemic to a close. By spending $50 billion for the needed number of doses, the G7 would add an estimated $9 trillion to the global economy. “It is hard to imagine a better return on investment,” and hundreds of thousands of lives would be saved.

What the columnists said

The G7 summit “wasn’t perfect,” said Josh Wingrove and Jennifer Jacobs in, “but, for Biden, it was enough.” He and the other leaders “took pains to show unity” even as backroom debates became thorny. The other leaders were clearly happy to be dealing with Biden, who avoided major gaffes, and “quelled complaints about U.S. vaccine hoarding” with a promise to provide 500 million of the 1 billion doses the G7 pledged to donate.

Biden’s sunny demeanor and “the soothing pageantry of diplomacy” have reassured U.S. allies shaken by Trump’s hostility, said Walter Russell Mead in The Wall Street Journal. It seems that “America is back, the West is back, multilater­alism is back, and all is well.” But “China and Russia appear unimpresse­d, as does Iran,” with the G7’s stern language about their destabiliz­ing behavior and territoria­l aggression. In the real world, “the U.S. and its allies are losing ground to their adversarie­s,” and “autocracy is on the march at the fastest rate since the 1930s.” Unless Biden and Europe take concrete action, “our adversarie­s’ progress will accelerate.”

Even our allies are wondering whether the U.S. is a reliable longterm partner, said Jonah Shepp in They greeted Biden “like a moderately dysfunctio­nal family welcoming a cousin home from rehab,” but leaders know that Trumpism is still a persistent force in American politics and could produce another isolationi­st president in 2024. These nations are glad to have the U.S. “back at the table” for now, but as one European official put it, “Your democracy is in serious trouble.”

 ??  ?? Jill and Joe Biden greeting Boris and Carrie Johnson
Jill and Joe Biden greeting Boris and Carrie Johnson

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States