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Joe Biden grapples with challenges on multiple open fronts worldwide

Joe Biden grapples with challenges on multiple open fronts worldwide

Joe Biden grapples with challenges on multiple open fronts worldwide

Joe Biden grapples with challenges on multiple open fronts worldwide

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  • Former President Donald Trump is using global instability as a basis to criticize Biden.
  • Biden’s handling of international affairs faces disapproval, with 58%.
  • Biden’s efforts to revitalize international alliances, including those with NATO.
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Gone is the Joe Biden of February 2023, confidently strolling through the streets of Kyiv and championing the Ukrainian cause against Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Instead, nearly one year after that appearance, the US president is confronting the challenges of running for re-election while entangled in one stagnant war and navigating the volatility of another. The conflict in Gaza poses a constant threat to the entire Middle East.

Israel’s war with Hamas has spilled over into the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, with Yemen’s Tehran-backed Houthi rebels attacking ships in the region. Simultaneously, pro-Iranian groups have targeted American troops in Iraq and Syria, prompting retaliatory US strikes. Although the United States is not officially at war, involvement in multiple military fronts and ongoing migrant strife along the US-Mexico border create a challenging environment for Biden as he intensifies his re-election campaign for November.

Compounding matters for the 81-year-old Democrat is the fact that his likely Republican opponent, former president Donald Trump, is seizing on global instability as grounds to criticize Biden for appearing weak.

Democratic consultant Melissa DeRosa sees the conflicts and border issues causing a feeling of instability that will influence this election. She believes it will be a problem for Joe Biden, with Trump likely to emphasize it, especially the migration crisis, which she identifies as the president’s “Achilles’ heel” due to record numbers of migrants entering the United States in recent months.

While foreign policy traditionally plays a small role in US presidential campaigns and is unlikely to change in 2024 without major developments, Trump, well on his way to securing the Republican nomination, is leveraging global uncertainty to his advantage. This message resonates well among his supporters, as expressed by New Hampshire Trump voter and 72-year-old architect Tony Ferrantello, who stated that foreign entities respect and fear Trump more than the current occupant of the White House.

Biden’s handling of international affairs faces disapproval, with 58 percent expressing discontent compared to 36 percent approval, according to the December-January poll average from the site RealClearPolitics. This uncomfortable position for Biden contrasts with his self-presentation as a foreign policy veteran. He served eight years dealing with world leaders as Barack Obama’s vice president and had multiple terms as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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Additionally, Biden takes pride in revitalizing international alliances, including those with NATO and in Asia. Throughout his 2020 campaign, he promised to bring America “back” to the world stage after the chaotic, isolationist Trump years.

Looming large are difficulties with the war in Ukraine, as Biden has attempted to position himself as the leader of a vast multinational coalition supporting Kyiv after Russia’s 2022 invasion. He aims to do so while avoiding confrontation between Washington and Moscow. Two years on, he grapples with fatigue from lawmakers and voters uncertain about continuing to fund Ukraine’s defense without tangible returns on their investment.

In Congress, Republican opponents link these issues together, offering support for Ukraine aid in exchange for tougher immigration policies at the southern border. Further complicating matters is Biden’s unwavering support for Israel’s war against Hamas, exposing him to intense criticism from his supporters and others on the left.

Pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted Biden several times during a Tuesday speech on abortion rights, a central issue in his reelection campaign. This tension may pose challenges in November, particularly in key election swing states like Michigan, which has a large Arab and Muslim population, and among young voters — both groups more likely to take issue with Biden’s handling of the war.

All of this is without even mentioning the potential for yet another front in North Korea, as tensions between the North and staunch US ally South Korea have steadily worsened. Victor Cha and Andy Lim at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington warned, “North Korea tends to ramp up provocations during US election years.”

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