President Joe Biden continues to distance himself from his predecessor while overseas for a series of international meetings.
On Monday, he appeared in Brussels, Belgium, to declare that he was pleased to take part in a NATO summit, strongly contrasting the position of former President Donald Trump that the alliance had become obsolete.
“Very unfair to the United States”
“I just want all of Europe to know that the United States is there,” he said at the meeting. “The United States is there.”
For his part, Trump took a much different approach in an interview with The Times of London in 2017.
“It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror,” he said of NATO. “A lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States.”
Biden sat down with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in an apparent effort to smooth things over with the international military alliance.
“I think that there is a growing recognition over the last couple of years that we have new challenges,” he said. “And we have Russia that is not acting in a way that is consistent with what we had hoped, as well as China.”
“Who we are”
As for China, the president complained that the nation’s “growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an alliance,” he asserted, adding that NATO members “will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the alliance.”
Despite his strong words, the summit was not seen as a foreign policy win by those who supported Trump’s more isolationist attitude. In fact, he seemed determined to turn the page on the “America first” policies that defined the previous administration.
“The leaders I’m dealing with in NATO and the G7 are leaders who know our recent history, know generically the character of the American people and know where the vast center of the public stands, not Democrat or Republican but who we are,” Biden said. “We’re a decent, honorable nation.”
Along with an awkward fist bump with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, there has been plenty for Biden’s opponents to criticize during his first international visit as president.
Among rivals and supporters alike, it should be evident that his deference to other nations is a stark contrast to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” message.