Biden’s announcement that the United States will purchase 500 million covid-19 doses to share with the world was praised by Democrats and Republicans alike. “We value the inherent dignity of all people. In times of trouble, Americans reach out to offer help and to offer a helping hand. That’s who we are,” Biden said on Thursday, neatly ignoring the past four years. He continued, “In this moment, our values call on us to do everything that we can to vaccinate the world against covid-19. It’s also in America’s self-interest. As long as the virus rages elsewhere, there is a risk of new mutations that could threaten our people.”
Biden also doubled down on the “special relationship” between the United States and Britain by updating the 80-year-old Atlantic Charter to reflect 21st-century priorities, such as climate change, cybercrime and the existential fight between autocratic and democratic nations. “We must ensure that democracies — starting with our own — can deliver on solving the critical challenges of our time,” Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared in a joint statement. "We will champion transparency, uphold the rule of law, and support civil society and independent media. We will also confront injustice and inequality and defend the inherent dignity and human rights of all individuals.”
Then it was on to the Group of Seven meeting, where Biden worked to nail down agreements on a 15 percent global minimum tax rate and an increase in “reserves of the International Monetary Fund by up to $100 billion to support the neediest countries as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic.” The Post reports, “The ‘Build Back Better for the World’ infrastructure development plan is ‘a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership led by major democracies,’ the White House said.” In adopting Biden’s Build Back Better slogan and moving toward consensus on China’s nefarious practices (e.g. forced labor), the G-7 reflected the enhanced influence of the U.S. president.
Additional commitments were made on climate change and pledges to tackle ransomware. No doubt, our allies appreciated the contrast between a president hectoring to let Russia get back into the G-7 and another advocating on behalf of democracies and anti-corruption measures.
French President Emmanuel Macron at the start of a bilateral meeting with Biden had high praise. "We have to deal with this pandemic, covid-19…climate change. For all these issues what we need is cooperation. And I think it’s great to have a U.S. president part of the club, and very willing to cooperate. And I think that what you demonstrate is that leadership is partnership.”
Even before Biden’s departure, polling showed the United States regaining its stature after it had so horribly diminished under the last president. A Pew Research survey found: “In each of the 16 publics surveyed, more than six-in-ten say they have confidence in Biden to do the right thing in world affairs. Looking at 12 nations surveyed both this year and in 2020, a median of 75% express confidence in Biden, compared with 17% for [former president Donald Trump] last year.” That stunning turnaround reflected not only relief that an erratic bully is gone, but also that a president with actual foreign policy experience is now in charge.
Our allies also like Biden. “Looking at 12 countries polled during the first year of both their presidencies, a median of 77% describe Biden as well-qualified to be president, compared with 16% who felt this way about Trump. Few think of Biden as arrogant or dangerous, while large majorities applied those terms to Trump.” But it is Biden’s commitment to reintegrate the United States into the world that has won them over. His administration’s decision to rejoin the World Health Organization drew huge approval (a median of 89 percent), as did its move to rejoin the Paris climate agreement (85 percent), to organize a summit of democracies (85 percent) and to increase the number of refugee admissions in the United States (76 percent).
Many pundits and foreign policy officials feared Biden’s predecessor did lasting and permanent damage to U.S. influence, prestige and power around the world. So far, Biden is showing that fear to be overblown. Change our president, return to a “normal” foreign policy, embrace democracies and — lo and behold — America’s popularity soars. And it only took six months.