The world breathed a little easier last week. The election of Joe Biden is good news not only for the American people, but also for international relations. Biden’s past as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as vice president of the administration, Barack Obama has given him a familiarity with international affairs that could work in his favor.
For Europe, Biden is a good interlocutor. He is a lifelong “transatlanticist” with strong ties to many of Europe’s most important leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel. European leaders see the Biden presidency as an opportunity to repair the transatlantic alliance.
At the other extreme, is Boris Johnson, his argument for Brexit was the trade agreement with the United States. But Biden has nothing to do with Brexit, he wants to improve relations with Brussels.
Another who does not breathe easy these days is the Turkish president, Erdogan, who occupied the Kurdish canton of Afrin in Syria, deployed mercenaries in Libya, tensed the situation with Greece without Donald Trump making a move against him. Biden could toughen his country’s position on Turkish military interventions abroad and its cooperation with Russia. Trump defined Erdoğan as “a world-class chess player in foreign policy,” while Biden supported opposition leaders who were the first to congratulate him.
In the Middle East, the Palestinians trust that the change will help to resume the relationship that broke with Trump, whose decisions in favor of Israel disqualified the United States as a “valid mediator” in the conflict. Biden inherits the Abraham Accords, the strategy of normalization of relations between the Jewish state and different Arab countries such as the UAE or Bahrain, a strategy promoted by Trump that represents a radical turn to the position defended by the Arab countries in recent decades.
Robert Malley, CEO of the International Crisis Group, recently said: “President Trump has lowered the bar so much that it wouldn’t take much for Biden to drastically change the perception.” Still, Biden will be forced to rehabilitate international relations and regain traditional alliances by fostering dialogue under the umbrella of international institutions. The effects of internal polarization and the politicization of the international agenda will force it to commit structural changes such as the consolidation of a multipolar world. In this sense, Europe has a golden opportunity that it cannot and must not lose.