75th NATO summit Biden’s Presidential Test

Since the first presidential debate, the pressure on Joe Biden to prove that he could be the voice representing the United States at home and abroad has not ceased. Every public appearance is a test and the 75th NATO summit to discuss support for Ukraine is no exception. According to analysts, the president’s re-election would not only define the future of the country, but also that of the organization.

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO allies have invested around US$43 billion annually in assistance to the European country and the aim of this summit is to maintain this level of support until next year regardless of the current leader of each member country. The group is financed by contributions from countries, which since 2006 agreed to commit 2% of GDP, but it is the United States that provides 70% of the alliance’s joint spending. Thus, according to Andreu Casas, professor of political communication at Royal Holloway, University of London, “in the end, NATO is the United States and the United States is NATO.”

For the most part, opinions about Biden as a leader in the organization have been favorable. According to the group’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, important decisions for the future “would clearly not have been possible without the leadership of the United States and President Biden,” the official said during the current NATO summit in Washington. However, the uncertainty about the Democrat’s candidacy for re-election as president and the possible victory of his opponent, Donald Trump, who says he will not support the alliance in the same way, create fear among the leaders.

“None of the NATO allies doubt Biden’s loyalty to the alliance, whereas Trump would be a much more unpredictable president, one who cannot be counted on,” explained Sergio Guzmán, director and co-founder of Colombia Risk Analysis. Trump has long criticized NATO, believing that the United States bears an excessive financial burden on the organization. The Republican suggested that he would let Moscow “do whatever it wants” and would not respect the sacred principle of mutual defense in NATO’s Article 5 if he deemed that a member state did not comply with the alliance’s defense spending guidelines.

While the polls are in Trump’s favor, all is not lost for Biden. The summit to celebrate, according to Stoltenberg, the 75 years of the “strongest and most successful military alliance in history” seems the perfect setting for Biden to demonstrate that he has the vitality and stamina to be president for four more years, but also to reestablish the comparison between him and Trump, the central theme of his campaign, which was erased by his terrible night in the debate.

In an interview with ABC News a few days ago, the president described himself as essential to global security. “I’m the guy who created NATO, the future. Nobody thought I could expand it. I’m the guy who blocked Putin. Nobody thought it could happen,” Biden said. Later, during his speech to the Alliance, he mentioned that “the American people understand what would happen if NATO didn’t exist (…) They know that we are strong with our friends, and we understand that this is a sacred obligation,” he added.

For Lawrence Gumbiner, a former diplomat and international analyst, Biden has the advantage of “using his successful experiences during these four years in office, such as showing that he is a man of institutions because he knows how to work well with Congress or multilateral institutions,” he explained.

Although the president failed to end the war, as evidenced by the Russian daylight airstrike on kyiv that hit a children’s hospital, “he did secure the most effective weaponry against a Russian adversary since the United States supported Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviet Union in the 1980s and, in fact, revitalized NATO and presided over the entry of the two Nordic nations into the alliance,” CNN summarized. In addition, Biden could appeal to the fact that “Trump represents a threat to democracy, that he has been prosecuted as a criminal and that he does not have the emotional balance for the office,” Gumbiner added.

While Biden can use this to his advantage, it may be necessary for the Democratic Party to decide what to do about its nominee. Biden has insisted that he will continue with his candidacy, which must be ratified at the convention in August, while Democratic lawmakers argue over whether his nomination would cost the party the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as the presidency, if he remains their candidate.

A leading voice in the party, Rep. Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, joined lawmakers calling on Biden to withdraw his re-election bid. Meanwhile, Washington state Democrat Jake Tapper told CNN: “We have a good message. The president has shown he is not capable of delivering that message effectively.”

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