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‘Trump is gone,’ but lingering: As Biden vows ‘America is back,’ allies wonder for how long

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USA Today, June 2021

President Joe Biden spent a whirlwind week in Europe renewing transatlantic vows, reinforcing his message that the world is in an existential struggle between democracies and autocracies, and reclaiming an American diplomatic centerground following four years of relative chaos and drift under his predecessor, Donald Trump. 

Biden was enthusiastically welcomed by close allies – many of them old friends from his long diplomatic career – at a G-7 summit in Cornwall, England, and at a meeting with leaders at the NATO military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels. He departed talks in Geneva with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, with few concrete deliverables, but with some hope there could be a path forward for better ties with Moscow amid many fault lines – cyberattacks, human rights, election meddling, Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

But for all of Biden’s attempts to reassure partners shaken by Trump’s isolationist words and actions that “America is back,” some allies have lingering doubts about the forces that produced Trump’s election. They are wondering whether the U.S. can, longer term, be trusted to play its traditional role on the world stage, said Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia and NATO deputy secretary-general. 

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