The week that opens today will be important to understand in which direction our world, which the Covid-19 pandemic has made more, not less, global and connected, will move along 2021. American Democratic President Joe Biden himself, in a article signed in the Washington Post newspaper, summarizes its importance: “Wednesday 9th, I will leave for Europe, on the first overseas mission of my presidency. It is a journey full of meetings, with our best democratic partners – including the G7 nations, NATO allies and European Union leaders – before the final summit with Vladimir Putin. At this time of global uncertainty, while the world still struggles with a centuries-old pandemic, my mission will be to demonstrate to allies and partners the renewed commitment of the United States, testing the ability of democracies to meet challenges and corner threats of this new era “.
A year ago, few analysts would have hypothesized such a manifesto by the elderly politician, known, after a thirty-year career in the Senate and eight years as vice president of Barack Obama, for moderation, according to friends, or mediocrity for opponents, ” Pisolo Joe ”mocked former Republican President Donald Trump, who was then largely defeated in the November 2020 elections.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovic Putin, all of Europe, the regimes of the planet, Erdogan in Turkey, Duterte in the Philippines, al-Sisi in Egypt, Lukashenka in Belarus, as Narendra Modi in India, the nations of Pacific stressed by the source of Chinese hegemony, South Korea, Australia, Japan, even the Taliban lurking in Afghanistan for the certain offensive after the withdrawal of the allied coalition in the autumn, or the jihadists everywhere, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, European metropolises, are waiting the results of the talks in recent days, to define future tactics and strategies.
Biden has held, up to now, friends and enemies, on the alert, with shrewd policies and without rash and definitive moves, swaying with sagacity between the thrusts, calling Putin a “murderer”, and compromises, see the ratification of the New Start treaty, renewed for another five years with limits on US-Russian nuclear arsenals, averting a new arms race, model Cold War 1945-1989 . The meeting with the Europeans comes with the success of the agreement signed at the G7 by the ministers of the Treasury on the minimum tax of 15% which, despite the fact that it now needs a long and patient negotiation to define rules to be imposed on multinational companies, including the digital platforms Google, Amazon, Facebook, capable up to now of evading most of their tax burden by playing among the capital cities of residence, is however a historical precedent capable of closing the pernicious race to the bottom of taxes among developed countries.
The goodwill shown on the agreements against pollution, the return to the Paris climate protocols, banned by Trump, and the World Health Organization – despite the many flaws WHO during the pandemic, under the aegis of Beijing -, even the caution used during the clashes between Israel and Hamas, which cost him criticism from the left wing of the party, and the diplomatic and tacit maneuver with the Egyptian al-Sisi to mediate the truce in Gaza, allow Biden to arriving in Europe with many parts to play, without the ideological corsets that held back Trump’s impetuousness, or the perennial Hamletic doubts about an unattainable perfect world that often rendered Obama impotent.
Analysts are therefore still uncertain about the nature of the “Biden doctrine” and do not know how to catalog it, to anticipate its moves. In one of his essays on “Foreign Affairs”, taken up by Project Syndicate, for example, the expert Charles Kupchan, director of the European Affairs office at Obama’s National Security Council, criticizes Biden as “ideological”, asking him for a sudden “change of course in foreign policy “. According to Kupchan, who has always been close to the Democrats, Biden must act with “greater pragmatism”, especially towards Russia, instead of “waving his sabers”, otherwise he will bring Moscow closer to Beijing forever and alienate the already frightened European allies, see the Germany in the last days of Chancellor Angela Merkel, of any confrontation with Putin, who holds his hand grimly on vital oil and gas taps.
But another veteran analyst, the founder of the Eurasia think tank Ian Bremmer, also certainly not pro Trump or hostile to Biden, raises the radically opposite criticism of the White House, of being too harsh with China and too accommodating with Russia. In his always punctual newsletter from the GZero website, Bremmer observes that, beyond the episode on Putin “killer” in the interview with George Stephanopolous of the ABC TV network, Biden “wants a predictable relationship [con Putin] and hopes to avoid a direct confrontation with Moscow, just while relations with China are so harsh “.
So what should European leaders, Prime Minister Mario Draghi in the lead, expect from Joe Biden in Europe, while the republican opposition invests him for the “sale” of US national interests and democratic fringes snub him for caution? The answer, this time, is found more in the biography of the president born in 1942 and elected for the first time to the Senate, from Delaware, in 1972 when in Italy DC, Pli and Psdi, all disappeared parties, supported the remote government of Giulio Andreotti..
” with what right do the US and the EU speak of human rights if, in turn, they have violated them in the past? ”.
Biden is the son of a generation that believes instead in a West of values, not just interests. He does not have the alchemy of the pulpit preacher, he knows the errors and horrors of common history, but at the same time he is aware of the strategic dilemma in progress.
China, during and after Xi’s rule, will be a rival for planetary hegemony, Russia, with a fragile economy and a corrupt system, will be a smashing vassal, but a minor one. The challenge with Beijing is total, economic, civil, cultural, political, technological, on Earth and in space.
Xi and Putin bet on uncertainty and Western divisions, launching their provocations, certain of impunity or inane sanctions: the invasion of Crimea, the repression in Hong Kong, the violence against dissidents, the oppression of Uyghur Muslims, the arrest and attempted murder of Navalny, the kidnapping of Belarusian Roman Protasevich. The great economic game, the weariness of American public opinion due to the wars abroad after twenty years, the divisions of the Europeans make a single, hard, difficult answer and Biden therefore chooses an ambiguous tactic, which he hopes will be effective. He will see Putin without the illusions of his predecessor Bush son, “I have seen in his soul”, he will propose a common road with the least possible number of hitches, but with the clarity that the US will not be inert in the face of new episodes of international hooliganism.
To the Europeans, as to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with patience, Biden will offer collaboration on the exit from the pandemic, the tax authorities, the economic recovery, but finally asking for greater commitment on NATO, surrounded to the south and north by new rivals. This is what the “Biden Doctrine” is, and this is why critics and supporters are perplexed in interpreting it: Biden chooses an “Open Doctrine”, devoid of slogans and devoted to pragmatism, one step at a time in a certain direction. He knows that the possible war with Beijing is being studied at the Pentagon, who says in 50 years, who in only five, and wants to limit the friction, for now, in parallel confrontation, with minor but concrete agreements. Look, for example, at how he moved on the pipeline with Russia Nord Stream II, Merkel’s coconut project: he knows he can’t stop it with sanctions, he doesn’t like it, if anything he is counting on victory (which from the polls seems to move away to Berlin ) of the German Greens in the upcoming elections.
In this context, President Draghi has a great chance for Italy. After the disastrous accession of our country to the Beijing Road-Belt program, an economic alliance that often ends up strangling the adherents, at the time of the Conte I government, Italy has regained credibility, even with the sortie on rights see the attack on Erdogan, and thanks to the military commitment in many peace missions with Minister Lorenzo Guerini, to the point of being able to focus on the leadership of NATO with various candidates, including women, the names of Mogherini, Sereni, Dassù are circulating, at the now approaching deadline of the mandate of Secretary Jens Stoltenberg. Draghi and Biden, the Financial Times noted in an editorial, are both weaned from any ideological tic, they know they have to manage countries divided in politics, impoverished by crises and pandemics, and do not have ideal posters at heart to stick to the wall of dreams. Their constant, industrious, ideal Western community will not be enough for the last passionate utopians, it will make the nihilist gurus who pass off the subjugation of Putin as “Realpolitik” smile, but it is the most totalitarian regimes, everywhere, fear: because it could, surprise and no fanfare, really work.