President Biden is approaching the first anniversary of his Presidency. Coronavirus and Afghanistan have combined to make this term an annus horribilis for the Biden administration. At home President Biden continues to be under pressure to unite the USA fraught by a divisive election in 2020 that split the country. Abroad, foreign policy risks have grown with assertive rogue states pursuing designs on aggressive expansion and threatening military action against US allies. China has been sabre rattling over Taiwan, Russia over Ukraine and Iran threatening to ignore international monitoring of its nuclear programme. These are potential global flashpoints which are all causing concern in Europe.
From the EU’s perspective, it is perhaps unrealistic to expect any significant change in the relationship between Europe and the USA in the nearest future. But with the US mid-term elections just under a year away, the support for President Biden according to the results of recent opinion polls do not look favourable. Europe must prepare for a reality that the USA’s primary priorities will be domestic for the nearest future, and that the EU must take its own action to defend its interests.
In Germany, Olaf Scholz took office this week as the new Socialist Chancellor leading a coalition government to take over from the dynasty of Angela Merkel with a powerful partnership from the Green Party. This is a complete sea change; the Green Party opposes the Nord Stream 2 Project, and it is by no means clear how the new Chancellor will deal with Nord Stream 2. He has already been heavily lobbied by neighbouring states to kill the project. France faces Presidential elections in the spring of 2022, and whatever the result it is clear that the chemistry of the Franco-German axis will change.
Elsewhere in Europe political leadership is at a low ebb, and there is anxiety that the inward looking preoccupation of the President of the USA with the US domestic agenda may force Europe to take greater global responsibilities to represent the interests of the Western powers in foreign policy. Although the continent is ill prepared to shoulder these challenges, it must face the harsh reality that it cannot rely on dominant leadership from across the Atlantic.
Meanwhile, in the USA a serious issue that continues to be a thorn in the side of President Biden and the democratic party in the USA are the continuing allegations and innuendo concerning the international business relations of President Biden’s son, Hunter. There have been the usual unrelenting but unconvincing attacks on the partisan news channel “Fox News”. But the latest development in this ongoing saga is that yet another book has come out earlier this week with allegations of inappropriate political conduct. The book “Laptop From Hell: Hunter Biden, Big Tech And The Dirty Secrets The President Tried To Hide” by New York Post columnist Miranda Devine documents allegations that the Biden family directly profited from the award of shares in a Chinese energy company CEFC.
The theme of inappropriate political intervention overseas has been taken up by other columnists. Writing in the Washington Times on 23 November, Wes Martin has already suggested that the Republican Party should not ignore the matters of integrity and government transparency and questions about corruption at the highest levels of U.S. politics. He argues that the US Congress should conduct a professional and honest investigation into Hunter Biden’s business adventures in Ukraine and China, and that failure to do so would degrade the image of transparency and integrity in President Biden’s administration. Such a degradation would impair the Biden administration’s ability to defend American national interests in a world full of geostrategic challenges.
It has to be in the long term interest of the democratic political system of the United States for these issues to be investigated honestly and fairly, and for a transparent report to be filed drawing a line in the sand that defines for the public record what has taken place, and whether the protagonists have acted with integrity and in the best interests of the state.