“We’re at an inflection point in world history — the moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies will not just endure, but they will excel,” he said Wednesday in his first remarks on foreign soil since taking office. “We have to discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over.”
What all of that might mean for American leadership on the global stage is reflected in a new study of overseas public opinion from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, which regularly assesses U.S. standing around the world.
Pew’s latest looked at 12 countries in Europe and Asia, and found partners and allies eager to embrace Biden, but wary of a fickle American electorate and regularly dysfunctional U.S. political system.
Being liked and respected overseas isn’t desirable in the I’m-running-for-high-school-student-council sense. Rather, America’s “soft power” — its ability to get what it wants through influence rather than force — depends on it. The leader of Country Z is more likely to go along with a U.S. demand that might be unpopular at home if Country Zians generally trust the American president.
The White House and its allies immediately focused on what might be called the good news from Pew.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain promoted its findings that a median of 75 percent of those surveyed have confidence in the president “to do the right thing regarding world affairs,” up from 17 percent under President Donald Trump. And the percentage of respondents expressing a favorable view of the United States climbed to 62 percent from 34 percent in 2020. (Results varied widely by nation.)
For the past two decades, relatively few European respondents have said the United States heeds their country’s interests in making decisions — and while there was a big upward swing from Trump to Biden, the overall pattern hasn’t changed.
Now for what might be called the bad news.
Populations in those 12 countries take a relatively dim view of the American political system, with just 50 percent saying it works somewhat or very well.
And only 17 percent said democracy in the United States “is a good example for other countries to follow.” Another 57 percent said it used to be a good example but has not been in recent years. For 23 percent, it has never been a good example.
(It was the first time Pew asked the “example” question, so regrettably there’s no way to gauge attitudes over time).
Just 11 percent of respondents said the United States is a very reliable partner — 56 percent said “somewhat,” 26 percent said “not too,” and 6 percent said “not at all.”
Trump campaigned on withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, and fulfilled both promises. Biden has returned to the former, but crafting a new arrangement with Tehran has proved elusive.
As Biden preaches collective security and prosperity to the Group of Seven rich democracies, the European Union and NATO, he has to reckon that “the key threat is inside, it’s us,” said Charles Kupchan, who served as senior director for European Affairs on Barack Obama’s national security council staff.
“It’s not Russia, it’s not China, it’s not extremism, it’s not Afghanistan, it’s us,” Kupchan said at a Council on Foreign Relations event last week. “It is the prospect that our liberal democratic societies won’t recover their forward momentum and recover a sense of trust in our democratic institutions.”
Biden and his top national security aides have embraced “a foreign policy for the middle class” — a somewhat cloying slogan for the very functional goal of making sure Americans see engagement with the world as benefiting them directly.
Some in his inner circle have described this as a reaction to bipartisan failures — overseas overreach, elite support for free trade policies that disrupt or even destroy some American livelihoods, etc. — that have fueled populism.
“’America First’ was a response to a primal scream in the American electorate that said ‘too much world, not enough America’ ” Kupchan said.
“What’s the one most important issue I would say Europeans should keep an eye on?” Kupchan said. “It’s not NATO, it’s not U.S.-EU trade relations, it’s domestic [U.S.] politics.”
“It’s the big, $6 million question as to whether Biden is a temporary detour from the populism and Trump 2.0, or a new normal” he said. “We could well see the Republicans take the House next year.”
What’s happening now
McDonald’s was hit by a data breach. “McDonald’s Corp. said hackers stole some data from its systems in markets including the U.S., South Korea and Taiwan, in another example of cybercriminals infiltrating high-profile global companies,” the Wall Street Journal’s Heather Haddon reports. “The burger chain said Friday that it recently hired external consultants to investigate unauthorized activity on an internal security system, prompted by a specific incident in which the unauthorized access cut off a week after it was identified, McDonald’s said. The investigators discovered that company data had been breached in markets including the U.S., South Korea and Taiwan, the company said.”
Biden officials will reinstate Alaska’s roadless rule, overturning a Trump policy. “The Biden administration said Friday that it would ‘repeal or replace’ a rule allowing roads and other types of development in more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, reviving 20-year old protections Trump had stripped three months before leaving office. The move was outlined in the administration’s new regulatory agenda,” Juliet Eilperin reports.
To start your day with a full political briefing, sign up for our Power Up newsletter.
Lunchtime reads from The Post
- “‘People of Praise leaders failed me’: Christian group tied to Justice Amy Coney Barrett faces reckoning over sexual misconduct,” by Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites: “In December, Katie Logan called the police in this Minneapolis suburb to unearth a buried secret: Her high school physics teacher had sexually assaulted her two decades earlier, she said. She was 17 and had just graduated from a school run by a small Christian group called People of Praise. ... Logan was encouraged to go to police by a founder of “PoP Survivors,” a Facebook group formed last fall after the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, who has deep roots in People of Praise ... The former members are now demanding that the group acknowledge their suffering and that it mishandled complaints, prompting People of Praise to hire two law firms to investigate allegations of abuse.”
- “Erika Moritsugu, Biden’s new liaison to Asian Americans, fights for influence in the White House,” by David Nakamura: “A veteran of the Obama administration and a former general counsel to Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Moritsugu was hired by the White House in April as the senior liaison to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities amid an outcry from lawmakers and advocates frustrated that Biden failed to name a person of Asian descent to his statutory Cabinet. But if her appointment solved an urgent political problem — Duckworth and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) backed off a threat to block all of Biden’s nonminority nominees — it was less clear what her role would be and what she would be doing.”
- “The Oregon House expelled a GOP lawmaker who let far-right rioters into state Capitol: ‘He has shown no remorse,’” by Jaclyn Peiser: “In January, footage emerged showing that far-right rioters who stormed the Oregon Capitol weeks before the insurrection in D.C. had help getting in: Namely, GOP Rep. Mike Nearman, who opened a locked door for them. Nearman was criminally charged in April, but steadfastly refused to resign — even when new video released last week showed him coaching the rioters ahead of time. Now, the Oregon House has taken the unprecedented step of expelling him. On Thursday, Nearman, 57, became the first lawmaker to be kicked out of the state House thanks to a nearly unanimous vote. Nearman himself cast the sole ‘no’ in the 59-to-1 tally.”
- “Federal board approves removal of ‘Negro’ from more than a dozen place names in Texas,” by Silvia Foster-Frau: “The U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved name-change requests for 16 sites in one sweeping vote. The action came after the Texas legislature passed a bipartisan resolution last month urging the federal agency to approve removal of the racially offensive term from more than two dozen sites and rename them. The remaining sites listed in the resolution are expected to be submitted for a name-change request soon. ... The board also approved replacement names, all of which are largely Texas-related heroes. So, for example, Negro Branch, a tributary in Travis and Burnet counties, will be called Ada Simond Creek, named after an award-winning Black writer and activist who was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, according to the Texas State Historical Association."
… and beyond
- “Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers,” by Reuters’s Linda So: “Late on the night of April 24, the wife of Georgia’s top election official got a chilling text message: ‘You and your family will be killed very slowly.’ A week earlier, Tricia Raffensperger, wife of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had received another anonymous text: ‘We plan for the death of you and your family every day.’ ... Trump’s relentless false claims that the vote was ‘rigged’ against him sparked a campaign to terrorize election officials nationwide — from senior officials such as Raffensperger to the lowest-level local election workers. ... The ongoing harassment could have far-reaching implications for future elections by making the already difficult task of recruiting staff and poll workers much harder, election officials say.”
- “Republicans in the states are proving Joe Manchin wrong,” by the Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein: “In places such as Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, and Montana, the most restrictive laws approved this year have passed on total or near-complete party-line votes, with almost all state legislative Republicans voting for the bills and nearly all Democrats uniting against them, according to an analysis of state voting records provided exclusively to The Atlantic by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU. That pattern of unrelenting partisanship has left many state-level Democrats incredulous at the repeated insistence by Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, that he will support new federal voting-rights legislation only if at least some Republican senators agree to it.”
More on Biden's trip
Biden and other G-7 leaders are meeting today for the first day of the summit.
- On the schedule was a “socially distanced family photo,” a reception with members of the British royal family and a more substantive session focused on rebuilding from the pandemic, John Wagner reports.
- The leaders committed to donating 1 billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine to other nations. This includes the 500 million pledged by the U.S. earlier this week.
- “The first discussion session, focused on recovery from the coronavirus, follows Biden’s announcement Thursday that the United States will donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to poor nations. Other G-7 countries are expected to announce their intentions to help as well.”
The leaders will endorse a 15 percent minimum global tax rate.
- The step formalizes what finance ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States agreed to last weekend, Amy B Wang reports.
- “The White House heralded the agreement as critical to building an ‘equitable’ tax system and to ending the so-called ‘race to the bottom’ — countries competing over who can offer the lowest tax rates to big corporations — that often comes at the expense of workers.”
- “The White House said the deal also ‘paves the way’ for the removal of digital service taxes, which some countries have enacted on large companies that make money online in those countries, even if they do not have physical headquarters there.”
Biden will welcome Germany’s Angela Merkel to the White House next month.
- White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would host Merkel at the White House on July 15. “Chancellor Merkel’s visit will affirm the deep bilateral ties between the United States and Germany,” Psaki said in a statement. “The leaders will discuss their commitment to close cooperation on a range of common challenges, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the threat of climate change, and promoting economic prosperity and international security based on our shared democratic values.”
Biden raised concerns over Northern Ireland in his meeting with Britain’s Boris Johnson yesterday.
- Biden once disparaged Johnson as Trump’s "physical and emotional clone.” But this week, the two leaders were all smiles as they met for the first time, Anne Gearan and Ashley Parker report. While Biden didn’t mention the Northern Ireland issue publicly, officials of both governments said it was discussed.
- “Johnson said that the president did not push him on the issue during their meeting on Thursday, but that maintaining peace in Northern Ireland and supporting the Good Friday Agreement was ‘absolutely common ground’ between Washington and London. ... A joint statement issued after the meeting said both nations would ‘reaffirm their commitment to working closely with all parties to the Agreement to protect its delicate balance and realise its vision for reconciliation, consent, equality, respect for rights, and parity of esteem.’”
- Johnson said he and Biden are “working together” on the case of Harry Dunn, the British teenager killed in August 2019 when his motorbike collided with a vehicle being driven on the wrong side of the road. American Anne Sacoolas, accused of killing Dunn, claimed diplomatic immunity and fled the country, Jennifer Hassan reports.
- To mark their shared interest in cycling, Biden gave Johnson a custom bicycle and helmet from a Philadelphia business, Wang reports.
- Johnson may have hoped his meeting with Biden and the G-7 would place focus on issues like climate change and the protection of democracy, but concerns over Brexit and the pandemic dominated British newspapers, Adam Taylor notes.
Protesters have so far showed up to the G-7 with signs, samba and electronic trash.
- “G-7 and other similar summits have long been a focus for protesters. But this is the first time organizers have planned gatherings during a pandemic. Resist G7, a coalition group, is encouraging its supporters to take lateral flow tests, follow social distancing rules and wear masks. Organizers are also encouraging supporters to ignore the police’s recommended protest sites, which are not in the towns the leaders are staying or meeting in,” Karla Adam reports.
- “On Friday, Extinction Rebellion, a climate activist group, plans to march through St. Ives, a seaside town where the leaders are staying, and ‘sound the alarm for climate justice,’ with horns, drums, rattles and a samba band.”
Quote of the day
When asked by reporters this morning what his message to Russian President Vladimir Putin is, Biden said: “I’ll tell you after I deliver it.”
The future of the GOP
In 2018 the Trump Justice Department secretly subpoenaed Apple for the data of two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.
- The department also subpoenaed “the data of their current and former staffers and family members, in an aggressive push by the Trump administration to determine who was leaking classified information to the news media, according to a committee official and one of the affected lawmakers,” Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian report.
- “The department sought data on two lawmakers from California who were prominent critics of Trump — Rep. Adam B. Schiff, then the panel’s ranking Democrat and now its chairman, and Rep. Eric Swalwell — the committee official and Swalwell said Thursday night.”
- “The committee official ... said that Apple in May had notified at least 12 people connected to the panel of subpoenas for their data, and that one minor was among them.”
- “Democrats swiftly condemned the moves, news of which followed three recent disclosures to national media organizations that the Trump Justice Department had secretly sought reporters’ phone and email records in an effort to identify the sources of leaks.”
A new Rudy Giuliani tape shows that a key witness in Trump’s first impeachment trial didn’t testify accurately.
- The newly unveiled 2019 recording of a call between Giuliani, then–U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, is raising questions about Volker’s claim that he was unaware of a Trump effort to pressure Ukraine into investigating Biden, Mother Jones’s Dan Friedman reports.
- “The discrepancy between Volker’s testimony and the recording of the call has drawn Schiff’s attention ... who tells Mother Jones that Volker’s assertions to Congress amounted to ‘a disingenuous revision of history.’ ... Volker’s misleading testimony mattered. Republicans including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who argued successfully against the Senate convicting Trump, cited the former diplomat’s claims to defend Trump.”
Congress’s most successful bipartisan caucus lives in the House.
- “The bipartisan 58-member coalition known as the Problem Solvers Caucus took something of a half-court buzzer shot this week by releasing its own version of an infrastructure deal, determined to keep talks alive between the president and Senate Republicans at least a bit longer before Democrats bound toward their own party-line bill,” Politico’s Sarah Ferris reports. “The group, evenly split between both parties, has precedent for success — when the same band of centrists inserted itself into coronavirus aid talks last fall, its funding proposal ended up looking a lot like the final bill.”
- Still, “they have plenty of skeptics. For starters, the group hasn’t yet addressed how to pay for the package — one of the biggest issues that tanked talks between Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Further complicating matters, the rank-and-file group doesn't carry formal clout in either party, boasting no committee chairs or high-ranking leaders in their ranks.”
- “One congressional aide compared the Problem Solvers Caucus to Washington’s cicada season: ‘They pop up every 17 weeks with a bill, but really they're just part of nature and you should just ignore their noise.’ ”
Hot on the left
How to tax multinational corporations: Governments just need to want to do it, writes the American Prospect’s Reuven Avi-Yonah. The 15 percent minimum tax the G-7 will announce on these companies promises “a new era in which harmful tax competition is replaced by tax cooperation that benefits all the countries involved,” Avi-Yonah argues.
“The Biden administration should receive full credit for brokering this deal. It was responsible for breaking through the impasse resulting from the Trump administration’s refusal to engage in any cooperative endeavor on tax policy. Moreover, the deal eliminates the dispute about taxation of the large U.S. tech companies, which will now be subject to the same 15 percent tax as everybody else. ... The competitive disadvantage argument was always misguided, because there is no evidence that the pre-2017 regime put U.S. multinationals at any disadvantage. In fact, most of the top multinationals are American and are highly profitable, and the actual tax rate paid by the largest 100 U.S. and EU multinationals before 2017 was virtually identical. But politically, the competitive disadvantage argument proved decisive — until now.”
Hot on the right
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Texas will build a border wall, but he didn’t give any details on the cost or location. “Abbott declared his plans during a press conference in Del Rio. He said he would discuss the plans next week. The Biden administration issued a proclamation that stopped border wall construction on his first day of office,” the Texas Tribune’s Heidi Pérez-Moreno reports. “At the conference, Abbott also announced plans to increase arrests along the border — and increase space inside local jails. ... He also announced an interstate compact with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to resolve the border ‘crisis,’ and called on other states to do the same. Abbott's announcement comes after Republican former state Sen. Don Huffines said he will challenge the governor in next year's GOP primary — and as part of his campaign also promised to finish border wall construction in Texas.”
State abortion policies, visualized
Since 2000, the Guttmacher Institute (which supports abortion rights) has evaluated how hostile or supportive each state has been toward abortion. States with more protections are deemed more supportive, and states with more restrictions are considered more hostile. Over time, the country has become more extreme in both directions, without Roe v. Wade, the divide could widen, Daniela Santamariña reports.
Today in Washington
Biden is attending the G-7’s first sessions in Cornwall, England. Later today, he and first lady Jill Biden will participate in a reception with other leaders and the royal family.
Vice President Harris delivered remarks on the administration’s investments in child care and families at 10:30 a.m. at a child-care center in D.C.
Trevor Noah reviewed the conditions of the Atlantic Charter renewal: