After Donald Trump spoke to the Australian Prime Minister during his first week as President, the leaks from the call left many puzzled, and the new U.S. leader spoke and joined the close ally.
When Joe Biden spoke to Prime Minister Scott Morrison by phone on Thursday, the President-elect’s office said Biden hoped to work with him on “many common challenges” and the Australian leader said he would present a study on how his country is doing fought against Covid-19 contact tracing.
After four years of president’s spades and chronic chaos in dealing with foreign leaders, Biden has already signaled a turnaround – he is making US diplomacy predictable, even boring, again.
His transitional office, which receives no usual support from the State Department as Trump refuses to allow the election, is issuing the kind of soporific ads that were the U.S. President’s main means of communication up until the 2016 elections.
With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom Trump derided as “very dishonest and weak” after a summit on Twitter, a Biden statement following a congratulatory phone call said the couple “reiterated the close ties between the United States and Canada” and pledged working together against Covid-19 and future biological threats.
After speaking with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who openly criticized Trump for welcoming migrants, “Biden noted his interest in working closely” to address the pandemic, climate change and other issues and “praised her leadership.”
The lack of drama in Biden’s approach comes as no surprise.
With nearly 50 years of Washington experience, Biden pledged to return to normal and brought back the tried and tested decision-making process with expert consultations rather than impulsive tweets.
In a campaign speech on foreign policy, Biden pointed to the sharp decline in global respect for the United States under Trump and promised to turn the page on “the pounding of the chest, self-inflicted setbacks, and manufactured crises of this administration.”
Signs of priorities
Biden’s return to more traditional diplomacy is more than a less brazen personal style.
It also signals that he is more interested in working with the world, said Monica Duffy Toft, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
“Trump likes to do things bilaterally and unilaterally. The big difference is that Biden respects and understands that sometimes you have to work multilaterally,” she said.
“I think it’s getting less personalistic, less chaotic and a lot more by protocol and obviously not by tweet,” she added.
She expected Biden to revive the State Department role – mocked by the ever-suspect Trump as the “Deep State Department” – and move away from personal and family relationships.
Autocratic leaders have been eagerly searching for unfiltered channels for Trump, who eschewed the usual notes when meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and allegedly took phone calls made directly by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan without any preparation by aide-de-camp.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was blamed for the Middle East and talked via WhatsApp with the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who can expect significantly more pressure on human rights from Biden.
“If you were one of those countries with strong men it would be easier. They knew that somehow they could get Trump’s ear and get what they wanted,” said Duffy Toft.
Biden isn’t always the exact opposite of Trump. Like the tycoon, Biden likes to talk about how he’s cultivated relationships with foreign leaders and speaks the language of pragmatism rather than grand geopolitical strategy.
However, it’s hard to imagine allies restricting access to conversations with Biden out of concerns about embarrassing leaks, as Germany reportedly did with calls from Trump.
As former President Barack Obama said in a campaign by a Biden administration, “It just won’t be that stressful.”
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)