You don’t have to be Inuit to intuit that there hasn’t been such geopolitical tension in Greenland since Erik the Red.
Soon, too, the United States may be able to negotiate a lasting peace with our implacable foes to the north. It has been more than two years since Trump initiated a bitter conflict with Canada by labeling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest & weak.”
And there is even the prospect of peace in our time with Australia. It has been more than three years since Trump essentially hung up on then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (White House press secretary Sean Spicer called him “Trumbull”), labeling their phone call “the worst.”
Canberra may not yet be ready to bury the boomerang. But the Australians, Canadians and Danes — and the French, Germans, Britons, Swedes, Montenegrins, Ukrainians, Haitians, the entire continent of Africa and everybody else Trump offended — should be greatly reassured by the president-elect’s words and appointments.
America, Biden said, is “ready to lead the world, not retreat from it: once again sit at the head of the table, ready to confront our adversaries and not reject our allies, ready to stand up for our values.”
In language and in personnel, this signaled a restoration, a return to the “no-drama Obama” administration and the unofficial Obama Doctrine: “Don’t do stupid s---.”
Every one of the appointments Biden formally made on Tuesday — Tony Blinken as secretary of state, John Kerry as climate czar, Alejandro Mayorkas as homeland security secretary, Avril Haines as intelligence director, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.N. ambassador and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser — is a veteran of the Obama administration. (Biden’s picks for Treasury, Janet Yellen, and White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, come from a similar mold.)
They are, to a person, inordinately competent and extravagantly credentialed. Time will tell whether they have another trait — excessive caution — that frequently plagued the Obama administration.
But for the moment, Biden’s only substantive message was a wholehearted return to multilateralism. “They embody my core beliefs that America is strongest when it works with its allies,” he said, learned “through decades of experience working with our partners.”
Though there will be political squabbles aplenty and crises yet unknowable, the return to competence and cooperation should comfort all who don’t subscribe to “America First” isolationism or international conspiracy theories. We will once again be allied with our allies, and our president won’t think Finland is part of Russia.
Whatever happens in the coming months, you probably won’t see Biden falling “in love” with North Korea’s nuclear-armed madman, shoving the prime minister of Montenegro, calling the mayor of London a “stone cold loser,” saying the French president “suffers from a very low approval rating,” calling the German chancellor “stupid” and the British prime minister a “fool,” accusing Sweden of having fictitious “problems like they never thought possible,” and declaring that Finland avoided fires by “raking” forests.
You won’t awaken to see that Biden overnight threatened a nation’s destruction in an all-caps tweet. Nor will world leaders laugh at him at the United Nations or make fun of him at Buckingham Palace. You won’t find him suffering parade envy after Bastille Day, or hear him say “I don’t see any reason” to believe U.S. intelligence over Vladimir Putin.
Instead, I expect, this will be a presidency that is delightfully predictable and refreshingly boring.
It will look a lot like Tuesday’s rollout. The nominees all stood at a safe distance, wearing matching blue surgical masks. A man came in to sanitize the lectern between speakers. Each nominee read a script from a designated page in the same notebook. They took no questions.
Blinken let us know that he has an “insatiable appetite for bad puns.”
Louisiana-native Thomas-Greenfield informed us that in her 35 years in the Foreign Service she practiced “gumbo diplomacy.”
Sullivan disclosed that he’s a “kid from the heartland.”
Biden announced that it was Mayorkas’s birthday.
There will come a time, probably soon, whereupon viewing such anodyne choreography we’ll grow momentarily wistful about the days when anything might happen at any moment. Taking Sharpie to weather map. Staring at the eclipse. Very stable genius. Fire and fury. Covfefe. Man, woman, person, camera, TV.
And then we’ll go about our lives with the calm that comes from knowing the grown-ups are back in charge.
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