Washington: When Joe Biden entered the White House in January, he made a vow to the world: Donald Trump’s inward-looking and often chaotic “America First” approach to foreign policy was over.
“We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again,” Biden said in his first speech as President.
“We will be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security.“
He would later sum up this message in just three words: “America is back”.
After four years of being blindsided and bullied by Trump, this was exactly what America’s traditional allies longed to hear.
The relief, verging on elation, at Biden’s election victory was on display when he met with fellow G7 leaders in the UK in June. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, often caricatured as a transatlantic Trump, summed up the mood at the summit by describing Biden as a “breath of fresh air”.
That’s not something Johnson is saying any more. Instead, America’s allies feel dismayed and even betrayed by the US handling of the end of the war in Afghanistan. Rather than co-pilots in the withdrawal effort, Biden has treated them like powerless passengers who were merely along for the ride.
In the lead up to an emergency G7 summit on Wednesday (AEST) Johnson and several of his senior ministers made clear they wanted Biden to delay his August 31 departure date so as many people as possible could escape Afghanistan.
French President Emmanuel Macron was also pushing for a delay beyond next Tuesday, as tens of thousands of Afghans with valid claims to have aided the allies have not yet made it into the airport in Kabul.