Corbis Bay, England, 12 June 2021 (AFP) – “Everyone on the water!” Joe Biden’s comment on the traditional family photo of this year’s G7 summit near the beach sets the tone for more respectable diplomacy than his predecessor, Donald Trump.
On his first foreign trip, the US president plays a character he is familiar with, unpredictable, less aggressive, and more manic on the red carpet than his predecessors.
After four years of diplomatic turmoil, “Joe” expresses calm and refers to “a big breath of fresh air” in the words of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
He knows that the 46th President of the United States is skeptical of his allies and needs more than good words, and the promise that “America is back” to dispel pessimism and questions about the future of American democracy.
For now, the 78-year-old president is on alert, facing the enchanting landscapes of Cornwall and taking him to Brussels and Geneva at the start of an eight-day trip.
The “old lion” of American politics was not very comfortable with zoom lectures and now enjoys personal contacts.
If he is known to be weak at times, he is the oldest American president in history to be called “Sleeper Joe” by Donald Trump, who has so far silenced criticism of his lack of courage and questions about his health.
He appears to be a backbone, photographed in white sneakers the day before the summit and sitting on the beach facing the sea with his wife Jill.
His long political career was based on contact in Washington (where he was a congressman for 36 years) and in the international scene (traveling around the world as Barack Obama’s vice president).
“He has been preparing for 50 years,” his spokeswoman Jen Socki joked before leaving for the UK.
Since his years in the Senate, he has maintained the habit of speaking face-to-face with journalists, telling jokes, and spreading unique phrases known as “fitness” in Washington.
When traveling, keep that tone. “This is wonderful! I do not want to go home anymore,” he said as he faced the bay of St. Ives.
– Image of America – In the G7, Joe Biden is in favorable ground because Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau or Emmanuel Macron have been criticized for their brutal Republican pioneer.
Now, his every word, his every gesture, offers a different variation of Donald Trump’s first trip to Europe, in May 2017 at the NATO summit in Brussels, and then at the G7 in Sicily.
The image of the then president of the world’s greatest power to immortalize himself as prime minister of tiny Montenegro left indelible marks.
“Of course, the G7 is back in the United States,” says Steve Bomber of the International Crisis Group.
“But in the end, Biden will not be judged for the mistakes his predecessor made,” he adds.
Apart from the G7, the most difficult meeting of this trip will be on Wednesday, in Geneva, with Russian Vladimir Putin.
For now, Biden may be proud to have restored his country’s image abroad, at least temporarily.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center’s 16 countries, 62% of respondents now have a “positive image” of the world’s leading power, up from just 34% by 2020.
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