Biden’s France Visit Highlights Commitment to Alliances, Implicitly Criticizes Trump’s Isolationism

Jimmy Williams

Not once during his five-day trip to France did President Joe Biden mention Donald Trump by name. However, standing among the graves of American soldiers killed in two world wars, Biden’s remarks implicitly criticized Trump’s quasi-isolationist foreign policy. Biden emphasized the necessity of strong alliances to fend off autocratic threats to democratic states.

A Symbolic Visit

Biden’s visit culminated on Sunday at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, about an hour from Paris. This cemetery is the final resting place for 2,289 Americans who died in World War I. The site holds significant political symbolism, particularly because Trump avoided it during his 2018 trip to France, citing weather conditions. Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly later confirmed reports that Trump had disparaged the war dead as “losers,” a claim Trump has denied. Chris LaCivita, Trump’s 2024 co-campaign manager, reiterated that weather prevented Trump’s visit and called the report “fake and thoroughly debunked.”

Biden explained his choice of this particular cemetery by highlighting the extraordinary number of Marines buried there. However, his visit inevitably drew attention to Trump’s controversial absence in 2018.

Emphasis on Alliances

A recurring theme during Biden’s trip was the celebration of America’s network of alliances. He noted that these alliances helped the U.S. prevail in past wars and are essential today to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from defeating Ukraine and threatening Europe. At the cemetery, Biden stated, “The best way to avoid these kinds of battles in the future is to stay strong with our allies. Do not break. Do not break.”

Biden is betting that Americans prefer his cooperative foreign policy over Trump’s nationalist approach. As commander in chief, Trump often criticized allies for not spending enough on defense and considered withdrawing from NATO. He has reiterated this stance, stating in February that he would let Russia “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO allies that do not meet defense spending thresholds.

The Political Context

The 2024 election might turn into a referendum on these two contrasting foreign policy approaches. Biden, addressing the press on Sunday, challenged the notion that Americans have become “semi-isolationist.” He asserted, “That’s not who we are. It’s not who America is.”

The trip was largely smooth for Biden, except for a 45-minute delay at the D-Day 80th anniversary ceremony in Normandy, caused by French President Emmanuel Macron’s late arrival. This delay left elderly veterans, many in their 90s and 100s, waiting in the cold.

Age and Imagery

At a time when Biden’s age, 81, is a concern for many voters, the trip offered photo opportunities with WWII veterans old enough to be his father. This imagery aimed to counteract concerns about his fitness for office. For instance, during a toast at the Elysee Palace, Macron highlighted 100-year-old veteran Harold Terens and his 96-year-old fiancée, Jeanne Swerlin, who were present and had recently made their marriage vows.

Upcoming Challenges

On Wednesday, Biden is scheduled to leave for the Group of Seven (G7) summit in southern Italy. However, a pressing personal issue looms: his son Hunter Biden faces felony gun charges, with his trial resuming on Monday in Wilmington, Delaware. The prosecution has rested its case, and the president may soon learn the verdict for his lone surviving son.

Biden’s trip to France underscored his commitment to international alliances and implicitly criticized Trump’s isolationist policies. Through symbolic gestures and strategic messaging, Biden sought to reaffirm America’s role on the global stage and highlight the contrasts between his approach and that of his predecessor. As he prepares for further international engagements and navigates personal challenges, Biden continues to define his presidency against the backdrop of Trump’s legacy.

 

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