Biden Aims to Claim American Leadership Abroad at UN Climate Summit and G20

sharm el sheikh, egypt

This is the story President Joe Biden tells on nearly every occasion. I met my new counterpart at his first international summit last year, and he proudly told me that “America is back.”

“How long?” asked one of them.

The question still resonates with Mr. Biden as he embarks on a round-the-world trip this week.

“They are very concerned that we are still an open democracy, that we still have rules, that institutions matter,” Biden said at a press conference on Wednesday.

By stopping by the climate change conference here in the Red Sea, the gathering of Southeast Asian nations in Cambodia, and the crucial G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, Mr. Biden is addressing America in areas that former President Donald Trump has ignored or neglected. desires to assert leadership of actively avoid.

“Tomorrow, if the United States were to withdraw from the world, many things would change around the world. Many things would change,” Biden said before his trip.

I believe he and his advisers are in a series of high-stakes meetings with firm arguments that his version of America’s role in the world will persist. He fought against historical and political headwinds as many of his candidates lost. And over the past year, he’s secured passage for massive climate change investments, helped Ukraine, and rallied the world behind efforts to isolate Russia.

But the anxiety of America’s allies lingers about the future of Ukraine, the fight against climate change, our treaty partners and, perhaps most urgently, America’s commitment to uphold Democratic norms. Foreign diplomats are searching for clues about how American voters judged Biden’s first two-year term and reported to the capital about voter grievances that could drive Trump’s re-election. I’ve watched the midterm political season unfold with great interest.

As of Wednesday night, Republicans appeared to be moving toward gaining control of the House. And Trump is gearing up for a third presidential election that could be announced while Biden is on the other side of the globe.

The White House aide has expressed no concern about the possibility of a split screen and believes foreign policy is one of the president’s strengths, especially when compared to Trump’s chaotic foreign policy style. increase.

“I have to prove he will not come to power,” Biden said Wednesday. please.”

In moments of domestic political turmoil, presidents often turn to foreign policy that allows them to act with relatively few congressional constraints. President Barack Obama launched a similar tour of Asia after self-proclaimed “bombardment” of the 2010 midterm elections.

Biden’s visit will include four distinct global threats: Russia’s war with Ukraine, escalating tensions with China, climate change’s survival issues, and the potential for a global recession in the coming months. stands in your way. Other flashpoints, such as North Korea’s rapidly accelerating provocations and uncertainty over Iran’s nuclear program, will also be taken into account.

Among them, defending Ukraine and fighting climate change could be most affected by the outcome of this week’s elections.

At the G20 summit, Biden hopes to rally the world’s developed world leaders behind his 10-month effort to isolate and punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. He has no plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will not attend the meeting in person and is considering whether to attend online.

But global economic headwinds have tested international resolve to pressure campaigns.

Some Trump-backed House Republicans are calling for cuts in funding to Ukraine, while other Republican defense hawks have vowed not to abandon the country in the middle of a war with Russia. .

House Republican Majority Leader McCarthy said in an interview with CNN this week that he tried to reaffirm his support for Ukraine but would not automatically rubber-stamp additional aid requests.

“I am very supportive of Ukraine,” McCarthy said. “I think we have to be accountable going forward. Please allow us to discuss it.”

At the United Nations Climate Summit in Egypt, Biden arrived after signing the largest-ever US investment to combat climate change. This was a dramatically different scenario from previous international conferences, including last year’s meeting in Scotland. law.

A senior government official said this week, “We have seen the United States go from being a world laggard to becoming a world leader in less than 18 months.

Biden will use his $375 billion commitment to persuade other countries to step up their own efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It will be.

In his speech, Biden will call on countries to “really keep an eye on accelerating ambitious actions to cut emissions,” the official said. We will also leverage the purchasing power of the federal government to combat climate change in the private sector and strengthen fragile supply chains to set carbon reduction targets for our large federal contractors and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Underscores his administration’s intention to propose a rule requiring disclosure this week.

But Republicans have said they will work to repeal parts of the law, accusing Biden of contributing to higher energy prices by blocking the extraction of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. ing.

When Trump was president, he completely withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Accord.

Even without political uncertainty in America, rising energy costs are a concern, and a looming recession could dampen resolve to move to clean energy. Biden is expected to attend for just a few hours, though he has tempered his hopes for the summit.

In Congress, Biden has had bipartisan success in his efforts to counter China, another major issue facing him this week. He won Republican and Democratic votes, in part because recently passed legislation aimed at boosting the U.S. semiconductor industry promised to wean the U.S. from its reliance on Chinese products.

Over the past month, Biden’s aide has been trying to coordinate his first face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, despite heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August visit to autonomous Taiwan infuriated Chinese leaders and nearly cut off communications with the United States.

Biden said on Wednesday that he would explain to Xi Jinping “what each of our red lines are” and that during the meeting they would discuss issues they each considered to be of “critical national interest.”

In his recently released National Security Strategy, Biden identified China as “America’s most important geopolitical challenge,” and that a face-to-face meeting with President Xi, who has just resumed international travel after the Covid-19 pandemic, would We hope to help establish communication. .

New to the G20 from the historic Communist Party conference, Xi has elevated him to an unprecedented third term. This is in contrast to Biden’s current political situation.

It is not yet clear how that disparity will manifest itself in Bali.

“The big question is whether the two leaders will be more conciliatory or more defiant,” said Matthew Goodman, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“They’re both going through the political events of the year, and for some reason they might be a little more free to reach out and try to find common ground,” Goodman said. There are global challenges that really affect both the United States and China, whether it’s climate change or climate change, so there’s potential for some sort of conciliatory approach from both sides.”

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