• February 1, 2023

Biden’s Rough Start With the World

It wasn’t the most promising start. Less than a month after Joe Biden’s presidency, his administration is already preoccupied with China, Russia and Iran. It also notes that US allies are not quite as pleased with Mr Biden’s February 4 announcement that “America is back” as many Democrats might have hoped.

In Asia, the government’s Myanmar policy of imposing sanctions that signal disapproval without significantly impairing the armed forces’ ability to rule has generated little enthusiasm. On February 15, the Indian Foreign Minister welcomed Indo-Japanese cooperation on regional infrastructure projects connecting Myanmar with its neighbors. This is a not-so-subtle signal that India intends to continue working with Myanmar no matter what Washington wants. At the same time, much of the Indian press that supports the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party holds resentment that Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece, Meena Harris, appears to be on the side of anti-BJP protesters.

European leaders also reject American moralism. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the US’s import of academic and cultural vigilance as a threat to the French way of life, while pragmatists on the continent urge strengthening economic ties with Russia and China – and the efforts of the Biden government, the Pressure to increase, practically ignored over human rights abusers in Moscow and Beijing. With the recent announcement by the U.S. trade agent that the Trump-era retaliatory tariffs on European wine, cheese and food imports are not going to go away, it has been one of the shortest and coldest diplomatic honeymoons ever recorded.

In the Middle East, Iran is not keen to ease the government’s path back to the 2015 nuclear deal. And both Israel and the conservative Arab states reject the American shift in that direction. Regarding troubled NATO ally Turkey, Biden pledged during the campaign to help President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s opposition. The new government has so far criticized crackdown on pro-LGBTQ student demonstrators and has called on Ankara to release dissident Osman Kavala.

Closer to home, the unceremoniously annoying cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline annoyed Canadians. Biden’s government appears to be aligned with a fight with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over deforestation in the Amazon basin – a sensitive issue for Brazilian rights. Left-wing populist President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, delayed Mr Biden’s congratulations on his election, passed a law restricting US-Mexico cooperation on drug trafficking and offered Julian Assange political asylum.

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