US domestic crisis dooms Biden's image abroad
Published: Oct 31, 2021 11:14 PM
US President Joe Biden stands at the far end of a group photo at the G20 Leaders' Summit on October 30, 2021 in Rome, Italy. Photo: AFP

US President Joe Biden stands at the far end of a group photo at the G20 Leaders' Summit on October 30, 2021 in Rome, Italy. Photo: AFP

Over four months after US President Joe Biden embarked on his "America is back" parade in Europe in June, the president once again landed on the continent on Friday for the G20 summit in Rome and the COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow. But US position in global arena could be similar to where Biden stood in the group photo at the G20 - on the farthest end of one side. 

During the ongoing tour, it is obvious that Biden has been restraining US arrogance. These range from personal talks with Pope Francis to the meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. This is because the president is experiencing "headaches" both at home and abroad. 

On the same day when Biden arrived in Rome, NBC News published an article entitled, "Biden promised to unite country. He'll be lucky if he can unify half of it." The hard truth is he cannot even unite half of the US, not even the Democratic Party. 

The left-wing forces, led by US Senator Bernie Sanders, are rising rapidly. The 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, a congressional caucus affiliated with the Democratic Party in the US Congress, has been following the banner of Sanders, although it has its own leadership structure and a chairman. The left-wing caucus has become the biggest obstacle to Biden's ruling power.

Any proposal raised by Biden that involves domestic policies will be scrutinized and even challenged by these 96 people. Before Biden headed to Europe, where questions loom about how much more the US can contribute to global issues such as global warming, he announced a framework for $1.75 trillion in social program and climate change spending. He hoped Congress could vote for it soon. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also tried hard to endorse him on Thursday, saying, "when the president gets off that plane, we want him to have a vote of confidence from this Congress." However, the vote was cancelled because of opposition from progressive Democrats, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Biden's power at home is weakening. Take a look at the crisis Americans are going through. Supply chains are collapsing and the many common items are in severely short supply. "Shortage economy" used to be a term to describe economic difficulties in poor developing countries. But the US is going through the pain. 

Without decent domestic affairs, it will be difficult for Biden to keep his head up abroad. 

Biden's approval rating started to drop sharply since the middle of June, after his tour in Europe. Why? Because his swagger on the global stage simply makes no sense to Americans. They would rather see the president resolve US domestic issues in a serious manner, instead of offering more promises to other countries. According to a new CNBC All-America Economic survey, released on October 21, Biden's approval rating has slid underwater to 41 percent, with 52 percent of Americans saying they disapprove of his performance in the White House. The world might witness a very dramatic presidential election in 2024. Huge changes may occur within the Democratic Party and the Left is likely to seize power. 

The US democratic politics has come to where it is today mainly because the bottom of its society is teetering. The middle class and grassroots are growingly helpless in improving their living standards. They believe Biden's social spending bills are far from enough. Therefore, left-wing politicians, represented by democratic socialist Sanders, who have been calling for economic justice for grassroots, are having growing divergences with other Democrats. 

With US domestic problems hanging, Biden's proactive moves on the international stage will only bring about negatively impact for him. American cannot see how Biden's visit to Europe will benefit them. The least thing they want to do now is seeing the US making more promises to others. 

In turn, the domestic mess will affect the US leadership in the world. Yet being a leader requires both capability and intention. Biden only has intention, but not at all capability. 

Granted, comprehensively speaking, the US is still strong. Most countries will keep showing courtesy when interacting with the US. But this is more of a perfunctory manner. Almost no countries are sincerely following the suit of the US, except for the UK, Australia, and Japan. 

The honeymoon between the US and its European allies has long gone. Take the recent submarine deal. On Friday, Biden explained to Macron that, "I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through." This is apparently impossible. But what else could France do? Macron responded, "What really matters now is what we will do together in the coming weeks, the coming months, the coming years." The truth is, the harm of the case to France will be permanent. 

Besides, after Biden's explanation, Australians may come to ask him if he knew the case earlier, would the US still go ahead with the deal? Biden can hardly justify himself, just as the US can hardly appease all its allies. 

For Biden, domestic puzzles and the US role on global arena cannot be separated. Regardless of the G20 summit or COP26 conference, more and more people will look at Biden with suspicion. 

"Build Back Better" or "BBB" was the bumper-sticker of Biden's campaign for presidency and the title of his current spending plan. However, looking closely at Biden's confusing narratives and ever-changing numbers in his plan, it seems that "BBB" is more like a mediocre credit rating given to the Biden administration.

Looking a bit further, the real rating could be far below BBB.

The author is a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn
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