During his campaign and throughout his presidency, Donald Trump would say the “world is laughing” at the US. When he showed up in front of world leaders, it often was, at his expense.
Joe Biden’s relatively warm welcome during an eight-day trip to Europe stands in sharp contrast to his predecessor’s cold and often mocked reception, following four years of political disorder and a blunt “America First” agenda.
Before his first overseas trip since taking office, Biden signalled a return to “normal” for G7 leaders with his “America is back” mantra, hoping to soothe over tensions and repair relationships antagonised by Trump.
French President Emmanuel Macron was filmed throwing his arm around Biden during a photo appearance. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the US president as a “breath of fresh air” following their first meeting. “There’s so much that they want to do together with us, from security, NATO, to climate change,” Johnson said.
He even borrowed from Biden’s own “build back better” slogan to describe the global response to the coronavirus crisis. G7 leaders and other countries have committed to supplying more than 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines, including 500 million from the US, with a goal to end the pandemic in 2022.
A little more than a month after their meeting, Biden will host Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House in July. Trump had reportedly called her a “loser.” She condemned his failures to accept his 2020 election loss.
During his first G7 in Quebec City in 2018, Trump refused to sign a joint statement on shared economic goals with the nation’s allies just moments after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released it, upending two days of talks and accusing Mr Trudeau of making “false statements”.
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly later that year, Trump claimed – as he often did – that his administration had accomplished more than any of his predecessors had at that point in their presidency.
“In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” he said.
“America is,” Trump continued, pausing, appearing caught off guard by an audible response from the assembly.
“So true,” he said, laughing as the laughter continued. “Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK.”
He later said officials were laughing with him – some appeared to join in by laughing at his quip. Others said it was more of a “nervous laugh, or a bad joke turned laughable precisely because the guy who tells the joke doesn’t realise how bad it is.”
In December of that year, as officials and diplomats mulled around in Buckingham Palace during a NATO reception, three world leaders explicitly laughed at his expense.
A candid conversation among Trudeau, Macron and Johnson caught on camera captured the men joking about Trump’s behaviour during the conference.
“Is that why you were late?” Johnson asked Macron.
“He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top,” Trudeau added. “You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”
Trump, who then abruptly left the summit early, called Trudeau “two-faced.”
Global approval of the US president has rebounded – a median of 75 per cent of respondents in 16 allied countries are confident Mr Biden will “do the right thing regarding world affairs,” compared to just 17 per cent under Mr Trump, according to a survey from Pew Research Center.
Trump’s approval fell to 34 per cent in his final year in office. Ahead of his first overseas trip while in office, Mr Biden’s is at 62 per cent.
“The election of Joe Biden as president has led to a dramatic shift in America’s international image,” Pew found.
The nation’s favourability grew by at least 25 per cent from 2020 among respondents in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the Netherlands.