Joe Biden is now in Europe—if the Brits will forgive our encompassing their scepter’d isle within our continent—and DR’s ace U.S. correspondent Steffen Kretz is ready to help us understand what it’s all about.
Analysis: Is America back, as Joe Biden claims?
Steffen Kretz, DR.dk, June 9
First, a joke. (Bear with me.)
A couple has a three year-old girl who’s never spoken an actual word. She’s healthy and normal in every other respect, but her infantile babble simply never evolved into actual words.
The parents are therefore understandably shocked when one evening at the dinner table their daughter pushes her dinner plate away and says, “This tastes like shit!”
“You can talk!” her parents exclaim.
“Of course I can talk,” says their daughter.
“But why haven’t you ever talked before?” they ask.
“Everything’s been fine until now.”
This joke may contain a germ of truth about the reason we haven’t been hearing much from Steffen Kretz since the Dread Tyrant Trump retreated to his Elba of the Everglades. (And why the few times we’ve heard from DR’s ace correspondent it’s been about Trump rather than Biden.) In the crazy, mixed-up world of Steffen Kretz, it’s possible that everything’s been fine until now.
He begins by informing readers that Biden’s European trip looks good on paper: he’ll meet with closest European allies, and then “with tailwinds from the leaders of Western democracies in NATO and the EU” he’ll go on to confront “the evil spirit of the West,” Vladimir Putin.
The itinerary is in synch with Biden’s consistent message to the world: America’s back. Implicit: the years with Trump were a political dead end, but you can once again count on the United States as you know it.
This whole “America’s back” schtick is pretty rich coming from a guy who seemed to think “Make America Great Again” was a gross effrontery. Doesn’t “America’s back” suggest that America had been less than it could have been, but has now been restored to some former, superior state? Isn’t it, in fact, exactly like saying, “America Is Great Again?”
Regardless, it’s certainly correct that Biden’s consistent message to the world is that “America’s back.” Apparently Biden’s mere presence in and frequent absences from the White House have made the nation great again. It’s also correct that this message implies that America had somehow wandered off course during the Trump administration.
There are plenty of “buts” one might expect after those observations, and suprisingly enough Kretz does in fact veer directly into one:
But there are two things that most western leaders in Europe presumably have in the back of their heads when they’re seated opposite Biden.
My guesses were : “Is he as dotty as he seems on television?” and “When do we get get to talk to whoever’s in charge?” (With “Is he going to try and sniff my hair?” as an alternate.)
Unsurprisingly, that’s not what DR’s ace correspondent imagines they’ll be thinking:
First, that even in international politics action outweighs words, and the Biden administration’s actions thus far do not suggest that relations with Europe are at the top of the agenda in Washington.
Actions should outweigh words in international politics, but ask yourself what Steffen Kretz thought was more important during the Trump administration: what the man did, or what the man said (or tweeted)? Ask yourself what anyone in the establishment media, Hollywood, academia, or Big Tech thought was more important. We had a booming economy. Jobs. Rising incomes. Lower taxes. No new wars. Mideast peace deals. Quiet on the southern border. Project Warp Speed. But none of that mattered because of the things the man said (or was misrepresented as having said).
I won’t dwell more on that here, since I got into the whole talk-is-cheap thing in my post a few days ago, so let’s just note that Kretz’s math might be a wee bit off on European politicians’ assessment of actions versus words and move on.
What’s the second thing these European heads of state might be thinking when the grinning carcass of Joe Biden is propped up across the table from them?
That there’s no guarantee Trump’s nationalist populism was a dead end that the United States only strays into once.
It becomes clear very quickly that what Kretz means is that the forces that summoned Trump forth remain afoot in the land even absent the man himself.
Kretz tells us that Biden won the election in November 2020 but that two-thirds of Republican voters still believe that this was on account of fraud. He states that millions of Americans don’t recognize Biden as the legitimate leader of the country—as if millions of Americans refusing to recognize a president as legitimate were somehow problematic!
Americans refusing to acknowledge an American president’s legitimacy is just how things roll these days. Surely DR’s ace correspondent has been in America long enough to realize that. So we’ll chalk that one up to the Kretzian tongue being in the Kretzian cheek.
The point he’s trying to make with all this is made succinctly enough at the end of this passage, when he notes that “the Biden administration is surely the polar opposite of Trump’s. But the causes of the last four years’ political chaos haven’t disappeared.”
Just so: the Democratic party is still working hard to make sure of it.
Kretz notes that Biden and the European heads of state will surely discuss the climate, trade, security, and the economy. He says the tone (oh, the precious tone among these people who value actions over words!) will be diplomatic and accommodating, but that:
…if you look soberly at what the Biden administration has done since the president took office in January, Washington’s focus is not on Europe.
Why should it be? Biden’s a Democrat, and can therefore rest assured that western Europe will be his bitch. He can take it for granted. Same strategy Democrats have been using with black American voters for generations.
Kretz won’t say that out loud, though: he’s a loyal little lapdog and won’t bite the hand that strokes his silly little head. Instead he sets out the facts of the case: that Biden’s only had two state visits at the White House to date— “because of the pandemic,” he emphasizes, as if to pre-empt the possibility of anyone assuming there might be any other reason for Biden avoiding interactions—and that those were both with America’s closest Asian allies, Japan and South Korea.
Here it gets interesting: Kretz says that this is no coincidence because Washington is focused on containing China. He compares the American obsession with China to America’s previous preoccupations with the war on terror and the Cold War.
He reminds his readers that the Biden administration still hasn’t lifted the Trump-era tariff’s on European steel, that Biden is still enforcing travel bans on Europe even though he’s not enforcing them on Mexico (which is having a much harder time than Europe with the Wuhan virus at the moment), and that he unilaterally decided to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan without first talking it over with Europe, even though America has fewer troops there than Europe does at this point.
So while the political leaders of Europe are preparing for the visit of the President of the United States, it’s worth remembering that the United States may now be an ally that does not throw verbal table bombs at its best friends when they meet.
But the United States is not the United States as we knew it before Trump.
Biden has promised to pursue foreign policy on behalf of the American middle class—not the elite. How far that policy actually moves away from Trump’s “America First policy,” time will tell.
And Biden sees the most important struggle for power and influence in the world taking place in Asia with China as an antagonist. In that showdown, Europe is on the sidelines.
Interesting note: Donald Trump saw the most important struggle for power and influence in the world taking place in Asia with China as an antagonist. And every action he took to address those concerns was ascribed to xenophobia and racism.
Steffen Kretz’s takedown of Joe Biden as a xenophobic racist will surely be forthcoming in a soon-to-be-published part two to this article.