The fact that Biden attended the security conference as the first US president, was a sign of solidarity with the West and the US tendency to strengthen its alliance with Europe. Biden sees the challenges of the world today differently and believes that today it is not possible to focus only on competition, rather cooperation and competition should exist simultaneously. The United States will work with Europe to address global challenges to secure the future.
European officials welcomed Biden’s new approach as well as the opening of a new chapter in transatlantic relations. British prime minister and the US main ally in Europe said: “America is unreservedly back as the leader of the free world and that is a fantastic thing. We’re turning a corner and the countries we call the West are drawing together and combining their formidable strength and expertise once again.” NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg also stressed: “First, we must reinforce our unity… As our first line of defense, we need a broader, more integrated and better coordinated approach to resilience.” He added that such a military alliance needs broadening of the concept of security because, he said, climate change, and the Corona pandemic have shown flexible importance.
In his remarks, Biden tried to show a different face of the United States to the world and its European allies. Biden’s positions were focused on issues such as “fighting the Corona pandemic and the vaccine marathon, new US-European defense partnership, Iran-US Conflict, end of trade tariffs, keeping distance from climate targets, fragility of the world order, countering China’s economic coercion and engagement with European allies. Biden addressed the Europeans directly for the first time at the Munich Security Conference, talking about the return of America and the transatlantic alliance and calling the partnership with Europe “the cornerstone of American foreign policy”. He declared himself committed to NATO.
But can these words really help solve the current challenges? Europe hopes that the United States, led by Biden, will once again play a leading role in the world and is determined to rejoin Europe; but the evidence shows that global problems are huge and that Biden is facing difficulties. Conclusions show that there are many areas for binding cooperation between the United States and Europe, the most important of which are climate protection, the fight against Corona, the reform of international organizations, disarmament, fair trade relations, defense for democracy, the fight against terrorism and countering authoritarian regimes.
Although Biden does not want his country to return back to the Cold War, he is ostensibly ready for a tough competition with China. Leaders of some G7 countries believe that collective action must be taken against China’s “unfair” economic and trade policies. Biden strongly criticized Russia’s “malicious” policies to undermine democracy and destabilize the security of the US, Europe, and other countries, but also called differences between Russia and the West as a good opportunity for cooperation between Europe and the United States. According to Biden, the only way to counter the Russian threat is an alliance between the United States and Europe. Russia’s actions against democracy are lurking in the West. Everyone knows that Putin intends to block the union of Europe and the United States in order to be a bully in the world and is trying to undermine the governance of the United States. Biden accused Moscow and Beijing of endangering democratic values in the world with their policies.
Biden needs to build a lot of trust in defense policy, especially in relations with its NATO partners. He indicated in his speech that he intended to distance himself from Trump’s defense policy. Using the phrase “America is back, the transatlantic alliance is back. Attacking one of us is like attacking all of us”, is an indication of such change in approach. His remarks on NATO showed that the United States does not intend to shirk its responsibilities. Although Biden did not mention the differences between the United States and Germany, including the Nord Stream 2 rolling pipeline, he praised the increase in Europe’s share of defense spending. Merkel too reaffirmed her commitment to allocate 2% of GDP to defense issues. The US and German leaders believe China and Russia are a challenge. According to Biden, competition should not fundamentally preclude cooperation with those countries, for example in the fight against the Corona pandemic.
In the case of Iran, although in the past there were signs of confrontation between the two sides; but now there are signs of closeness. The US government has accepted an invitation from the European Union to hold talks with Tehran and other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In Munich, Biden reaffirmed his willingness to negotiate, saying: “We need transparency and communication to minimize the rise of strategic misunderstanding or mistakes”; but Tehran has repeatedly said it will react to what is being done in practice, and negotiations will begin when US sanctions end; but in the United States and Europe, some believe that Tehran is raising the price of talks with such positions.
Evidence suggests that trade relations need to be reconsidered. Former US president had imposed severe punitive tariffs to the European Union, including on steel and aluminum. The European Union also imposed tariffs on some American goods a few days after the US elections. These are examples of disputes over US government subsidies to Boeing that, in the eyes of the European Union and the World Trade Organization, have unfairly discriminated against the European company Airbus. Although Biden spoke little about trade, he called countering China’s trade practices a strategic goal and advocated for intellectual property rights. From Europe’s point of view, the period of customs sanctions is over and the two allies must negotiate a free trade agreement.
A year after the outbreak of the Coronavirus and its widespread spread in China, Beijing is on its way back to its former power. The United States and the European Union are worried about a third wave of the disease. Getting people vaccinated faster is a top priority for the United States and Europe. Biden has pledged 2 billion dollars to the COVAX vaccine association, which supports poorer countries. Biden sees climate targets as a vital crisis in the world and emphasizes increasing ambitions. Many believe that Washington’s return to the Paris Climate Agreement is currently only on paper, and that above all Biden needs a major infrastructural program.